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LACE Cultivates Language Community

Illustration by Anya Chytrowski

The Language And Culture Exchange Club (LACE) is a welcoming and diverse club designed for English Language Development (ELD) students to share their languages, cultures, and experiences with English-proficient students. The club has approximately 45 members.

“The point of the club is to get to know the ELD students and hang out with them, and to introduce them to American culture while learning about their own culture,” said Agustin De Jesus, who will be a co-president next year.

In a club meeting, English-proficient students’ aim is to make a safe space for ELD students and to make them feel at home and comfortable with talking about their culture. In the process, ELD students can improve their English speaking skills which will help them participate in normal classes.

“Our club is to help people and newcomers here feel comfortable, because we want people who don’t speak English very well to speak English in normal classes,” said Hicham Hamze, a club member that will help lead  next year. Hamze’s position in the club is “to help people feel comfortable in the club … and know that everyone wants them in this club.”

Members of LACE attend club meetings and participate in other events. A community of club members with various degrees of English proficiency participate in monthly cultural exchanges and a fun end-of-year ropes course trip with beginner ELD students. This year there has been a wide variety of activities ranging from team building games, to pumpkin carving, to karaoke.

Once February came around, they started on Valentine’s Day cards, a potluck, and International Women’s Day trivia came in March. Club members have also learned and taught others about cultures from around the world, learning about their leaders, and cultures. There have been presentations about Holi, Chicana artist Jenni Rivera, Chinese New Year, and the country of Morocco.

This week, they will take a field trip to a ropes course to bond and celebrate their community.  “We go to the forest and we go and climb trees, we’re on the trees, jumping with professionals who know safety and know how to manage all of those things,” said Hamze. “It’s just to make it so people enjoy the club and to bring the community together.”

LACE is individualized by its extremely supportive community and teacher, Molly Lawrence. “What makes our club special is the members and how our teacher sponsor is so involved in what happens … Our club generally makes our community more friendly because this way more people get to know each other which creates a more welcoming environment,” said De Jesus. Additionally, Hamze mentioned that what makes the club special is the support club members offer each other: “The way that you speak, the accent, the way that you do things, there’s no judgement.”

Club members integrate culture into the club by teaching others. De Jesus said, “I’m hoping that my fellow club members learn more about cultures that aren’t theirs and even make new friends with those people.”

LACE meets every other Tuesday in M-202. Please contact Lawrence for more information about LACE.