ESL students get authentic Oklahoma experience

March 24, 2014 Community Print Print

International students at OCCC experienced an authentic taste of the state during their recent field trip to southwestern Oklahoma.

On Feb. 20 the group of 13 left campus and headed south on Interstate-44 to the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge.

Their first stop upon reaching the park was Mount Scott, the tallest of the refuge’s mountains.

Here the students, who hail from countries ranging from Senegal to Guatemala, encountered the day’s first sample of genuine, undiluted Oklahoma.

The gusting 60-mph winds that met them as they reached the summit dramatically illustrated the lyrics, “Oklahoma, where the wind comes sweeping down the plains….”

The vans rocked and shuddered with every violent throb of the unforgiving wind.

The few brave students who were courageous enough to venture out of the vans were treated to blown-off eyeglasses, wind-thrown baseball caps, and sweatshirt hoods that looked more like flags popping in the wind.

Retreating back to the vans after a short time taking pictures and admiring the view, the students laughed and spoke in awed tones at how strong the wind was in Oklahoma with one of the volunteer van drivers.

“I’d never had an experience like this before,” said Jing Long, from China, of the wind.

“It’s a very new thing to me.”

After a brief visit to the refuge’s visitor center, the group traveled southeast to Lawton.

Over lunch, the students laughed as they recounted stories from their childhoods back home and talked about shared experiences here in the U.S.

The Bridge Program allows international students to improve their English writing, grammar, and speaking skills.

Professor Abbie Figueroa, the program’s director, could not speak highly enough of the quality and character of the students.

After finishing lunch, the students jumped back in the vans and made their way to Fort Sill, a National Historic Landmark and active Army artillery base.

The students were treated to a tour of the base’s museum and historic buildings from Mark Megehee, the museum’s collection specialist.

Megehee captivated his audience by walking the students through 19th-century period barracks and by demonstrating the use of antique cooking tools.

He recounted vivid tales about Geronimo, an Apache warrior imprisoned at Fort Sill.

Following the tour, the group loaded up in the vans, and headed back north towards OCCC. Tired after a day full of adventure and learning, most of the students caught up on one of a college student’s most precious resources, sleep.

Other students on the trip were Hoda Abdollahi, Iran; Lesly Bemal, Guatemala; Buket Celik, Turkey; Iaan Hernandez, Mexico; Abdoulaye Sylla, Senegal; Qiumei Lin and Jing Long, China; Hoa Chu, Nguyen Khong, Hieu Nguyen, Van Nguyen, Trinh Pham and Chon Tran, all from Vietnam.

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