College News

Barton Community College ESOL class hosts local sixth grade students

a young student visits with two international students in a classroom
(From left) St. Joseph student Leah Steffan shows some of her prepared material to Barton ESOL students Joao Gabriel Freiria and Maria Laura Genizelli of Brazil.

October 4, 2022
Story by Joe Vinduska
Photos by Maggie Harris

Students travel from all over the world to attend Barton Community College. Last Tuesday, sixth graders from St. Joseph Catholic School in Ellinwood were able to talk with them about their journey to the United States and learn about a variety of cultures when they visited an English as a Second Language (ESOL) class on the Barton campus.

Barton ESOL Instructor Abby Howe said hosting collaborative educational events is beneficial for the college as well as local communities.

“I find that activities like this increase participants’ sense of personal connection to the local and global communities,” she said. “The Barton students now have more personal connections to Ellinwood and Kansas, while the St. Joseph students have personal connections to the countries and cultures of the Barton students. This activity directly supports the part of Barton Community College’s mission that we offer exceptional learning opportunities to support community needs.”

ESOL student Aya Saiki said she enjoyed the experience.

“I think it is necessary for young people to know about multinational people and cultures when they go out into society,” she said. “I think it's even better to experience different cultures at an early age. Since I came to America, I have only communicated with adults. This was the first time I communicated with an American child. He spoke very quickly! It was very difficult for me to understand how to respond, but it was a good learning experience for me.”

St. Joseph sixth grade Instructor Catherine Strecker said the social studies class did a lot of work to prepare for the visit such as researching information about various countries, creating brochures highlighting items like: population, size, language, food, weather, economy, development, tourism, religion, and government. Students presented their brochures in class and then developed questions to ask the ESOL students.

“Developing communication skills helps promote a better understanding of the similarities and differences of our world,” she said. “It also promotes friendship and understanding each other in a better way! Students engage in their multiple intelligences with various ways of learning.”

For more information, contact Executive Director of Foundational Education Stephanie Joiner at or (620)792-9238.