Spanish-speaking students find cultural literacy at fire station
July 15, 2003
They seemed to enjoy crawling on the trucks more than anything, but the Truckee Spanish-speaking students also learned a thing or two about what it’s like to be a firefighter Monday morning.
“One day we went on a trip to the library and the kids walked by the fire station and they said, ‘I want to go there! I want to go there!'” said Brienne Lopez, who teaches the 20 or so English learners who range from fifth to eighth grade.
The students prepared for the field trip by watching a video about firefighters in English. Most of the children have been in the United States for less than three years, so Lopez translated parts of the video students did not understand.
Field trips are a usual activity for Lopez’s intensive English class. They’ve been to Donner Memorial State Park and the Truckee Library so far this summer, and because there is no field trip transportation available, Lopez and her students always walk.
“I try to make it fun because it’s summer school and none of them really want to be there,” Lopez said. “I’m trying to give them cultural literacy.”
On Monday, a very excited group of Spanish-speaking students walked to their field trip at Truckee Fire Protection District station 92. Immediately, the students began climbing on the fire trucks and the ambulance.
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Firefighter Meredith Watson received the class at station 92. Watson has given many tours to younger students and this was her first time showing a Spanish-speaking group of students around the station.
“We’re always open to giving tours to kids,” Watson said. “They’re so enamored with the fire station and fire trucks.”
Through Lopez’s translation, Watson told the class about the different types of fires the district fights, from house to wild land fires.
Firefighter Don Akers showed the students the equipment fire crews use. Some students got to try on helmets and protective gear.
Once the students returned to the classroom, Lopez asked them to write in English a list of words they learned and what they liked about their visit to the fire station.
“It was good for [the students] to go there,” Lopez said. “They’re new to the community and they need to know that they can call these people when they need help.”