Press Releases

In addition to learning the English language, Washtenaw Literacy’s ESL program helps introduce American cultural traditions to newcomers in our community.  Learners in Marty Friedburg’s ESL group recently got a double-dose of learning about our Thanksgiving tradition. 


Left to Right:  Ayako Takabayashi (Japan), Shin Shin Lin (Taiwan), Ally Song (S. Korea), Beth Dugdale, Yumie Shiraishi (Japan), Tomoe Koike (Japan)


Beth Dugdale, Marty’s wife, started the ball rolling with a “Thanksgiving Cooking Class” for five of his students.  Over the course of three hours, each student learned how to prepare one or more of the main ingredients of a typical Thanksgiving dinner – turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry jello salad, red cabbage, green beans, cranberry bread and pumpkin pie.  Preparation was followed by a luncheon for Beth, Marty and all seven of his ESL learners.

A few days later came the main event, when the student cooks prepared all of the above in their own homes and, together with spouses and children, celebrated a Thanksgiving potluck feast.  The dinner was made a little more international with the addition of California (sushi) rolls by one participant.  In all, eighteen adults and three kids had a wonderful dinner together!

Experiences of this type help ESL learners learn about American traditions.  They also provide an opportunity for learners and their families to interact with Americans and connect with other foreign families who are new to the area, helping provide social contact and building friendships among all involved.

This was the third annual “Thanksgiving Feast” that Marty and Beth have enjoyed with his ESL learners.  They look forward to continuing next year what has now become their own tradition!



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