PASADENA - The sea or faces in the Washington Accelerated
Learning Center auditorium resembled a miniature United Nations.
the school's ethnic diversity that drew USC professor Renford Reese there Monday to
promote better understanding and trust through a program he has developed and dubbed
It involves introducing students to simple phrases in
And if the raucous response Reese received from the 300
Washington students is any indication, his program was a hit.
By the end of assembly, students were using pronounced body
English and shouting their repetitions to phrases such as "annon et encha?"
(what is your name, in Armenian) and dwyeh boo chee (excuse me, in Mandarin
language session was useful for a
walked up to somebody on the street and wanted to be their friend, you could say that in
their language. You could be friends with everybody that way.'
9-year-old fourth grader
of reasons, according to the students.
"If you walked up to somebody on the street and wanted to be
their friend, you could say that in their language," said 9 year-old Nora Palmer, a
fourth-grader. "You could be friends with everybody that way."
Ninth-grader Desiree Noe said the language skills also could come
in handy in a restaurant.
"If you walk into a restaurant and somebody asks how you are
in a different language, you would what it means and make another friend?' the
Harris said she agreed to have Reese, a professor of public
make his presentation because it's important for students
to learn sensitivity and respect for other cultures.
"It expands their awareness
and helps them understand how better to get along with
other people and make them feel comfortable with us,"
Reese said he started his program
two years ago in the Montebello and Los Angeles Unified
school districts with a small grant.
Since then, some 45,000
students in seven districts have been exposed to the
rudiments of 22 different languages, he said.
"Breaking the ice
can be the first step toward breaking down cultural
stereotypes," Reese said.