Celebrating Kuwait National Day at CU Denver
ESL Academy Students & Denverites Enjoy Afternoon Festivities
“We have fun together when we celebrate our national holiday on February 25th; so we wanted to share it and enjoy the moment of having a smile on someone else’s face, too,” said Thamer Alshammri, a student in the ESL Academy, University of Colorado Denver. Along with his friends and classmates, Alshammri enjoyed distributing traditional Kuwaiti food, as well as American snacks, and extending global friendship to downtown Denver business and community neighbors throughout the afternoon.
The students explained that Kuwait National Day was initiated in 1961 to honor the country’s independence from Britain. Festivals, food, fireworks, and music are a part of the activities in Kuwait, similar to the way that Americans celebrate their independence on July the Fourth.
They spent many hours planning the event and worked together as a team, with the guidance of the ESL Academy staff and Specialists. “It was the students’ idea and they asked me if I thought it would be well-received by people along the 16th Street Mall; I said definitely ‘yes’,” said Kseniya Kreyman, ESL Program Coordinator.
“It’s really wonderful to see our students wanting to share their culture with the people of Denver.”
When international students enter CU Denver’s ESL Academy, they enter more than an English language immersion classroom—students also delve into a curriculum designed to deepen their understanding and appreciation of life in the United States and in Colorado communities. Community-service learning activities, trips to art and science museums, outdoor recreational events in the beautiful Rocky Mountains, and city cultural festivals are all integrated into the fabric of the international student experience at the ESL Academy.
This was the second time that the Kuwaiti students reached out to the local community. Several months ago, they accompanied their teachers to prepare and serve meals at the Denver Rescue Mission. “I have a good feeling when I give people something,” explained student Maryam Alkhshman.
“At home, we have been brought up to value helping others,” said Asmaa Alsafar, who came to school in Colorado after hearing of her sister’s good experiences at the ESL Academy. “We are from a country of humanity.”
Although all of the students were from Kuwait, they did not meet until they were enrolled in the CU Denver ESL Academy. In addition to now having a new set of friends when they return home, “we also have friends from other countries that we met here — from China, Korea, and Saudi Arabia.”
“I’ve learned how to depend on myself more, and about new culture and a new way of living. I feel more self-reliant; that will benefit me when I go back home,” said Ali Alrasheed. The students are entering degree programs in preparation for careers and professional advancement in a variety of fields, including environmental, civil, and electrical engineering, special education, genetics, and dental medicine.
“Before I came here, I had the impression that many Americans had a wrong stereotype about Arabs and were not comfortable with us. Since coming here to the ESL Academy and to Denver, I have felt more comfortable; the people have welcomed us and have been peaceful. I joined a gym and live with a homestay family; the people here have been helpful and friendly,” said Abdullah Abuqammaz.
“I am so proud of these amazing students and our entire ESL Academy team for their commitment to service in our community,“ said Marcel Bolintiam, Director, ESL Academy. “The mutual respect and appreciation for diversity and inclusion has extended both ways between our international students and neighbors in Denver.”
To learn more about the ESL Academy, visit online: ESL.ucdenver.edu.
For more information about degree programs at the University of Colorado Denver, visit: internationaladmissions.ucdenver.edu