What’s On at DUQ

Sigma Tau Delta’s Mingle Monday: Working with English Second Language Students

By: Bri McDonagh

Monday, February 14, Sigma Tau Delta kicked off its annual service project with the English Second Language Department (ESL). Students in Sigma Tau Delta use the time given to talk with the students, learning more about them and their culture. Although this was my first service project with Sigma Tau Delta, it is not hard to determine how remarkable this project is.  

Working with Hannah Goss (President), Dr. Emad Mirmotahari (Faculty Advisor), and Bethany Lyobe (ESL Specialist) is a pleasure. The opportunity alone to meet and converse with a group of dedicated, intelligent, and kind people was an extraordinary opportunity. 

In Liberman, the ESL students gather for class, and where Sigma Tau Delta hosted the event, Mingle Monday. Previously, this event was called Conversation Hour. Mingle Monday was created to allow for a space for everyone to learn, get to know one another, and not feel the pressure someone might feel in the classroom. Going for a pressure-free environment, Sigma Tau Delta prepared Valentine’s Day-themed event. During the time allotted, we played Bingo, teaching the students about short-hand messages on the hard-heart-shaped candies and traditions relating to the holiday. The winners of the bingo received prizes of Valentine’s day candies. After a few rounds of Bingo, we separated into three groups to talk to the students about their names, the meaning of their names, their hometown, and any hobbies. 

All of these students work hard learning the English language, grammar, and conversing with other students. It has made me realize how hard-working and brave these students are to move away from home during uncertain times and dedicate their time to learning another language. Talking to a few of them, understanding that some came to the United States with a husband, children, friends, or even a sibling is a major adjustment. Encountering everything firsthand was quite the experience. This allowed me to recognize the difficulty of not speaking one’s native language to transition to English. 

I believe there is a lot to say about students, like the English Second Language group, who put themselves outside of their comfort zone every day. Growing up with immigrant grandparents, hearing stories about the struggles they faced coming to America and trying to adapt. Even my mother only spoke Italian going into grade school. She had to dedicate a lot of time to learning English to catch up to her peers. So, with the season of love and gratitude, I believe many educators deserve a lot of thanks for what they do for students of all spectrums. Furthermore, to show love and kindness to students who are not from the United States, and welcome them any chance we get! 

Coffee House Reading Series: Alumni Edition

By: Bri McDonagh

This past week, Duquesne University welcomed four alumni back home for a poetry reading. In the Genesius Theater, Brian Tierney, Cameron Barnett, Elizabeth Savage, and Justin Kishbaugh brought to the stage some of their beautiful pieces of poetry to read to students and faculty who gathered. Each poet brought their personality and emotion to the stage. It was entertaining to listen to them read their works, as well as contrast each piece with one another. Many students thought it was compelling to see how their writings have brought these authors flourishing careers by doing something they love. 

Before the reading in Genesius Theater, some poets, including myself, got the opportunity to meet Brian Tierney. Upon meeting Brian Tierney, we discussed what poetry means to us and how that correlates to our writings. Understanding what inspires us and what is our “muse” is fun to uncover or maybe notice as we continue to write. Consequently, we workshopped a few poems with Brian. He brought us to realize that we do not have to completely delete lines from poetry, but change the order of the lines or stanzas. Seeing how he workshops poetry, methods to reading poetry, and how to relay critiques without being rude to the author’s piece. 

The day after the reading, my poetry class with Dr. Linda Kinnahan was joined by both Brian Tierney and Justin Kishbaugh. Justin shared his knowledge and wisdom about writing poetry with the class. Learning about Justin’s academic path and career path was interesting, especially how English majors are as flexible as they are. With Justin, we learned how although poetry does not have “rules”, punctuation is important in the process. Punctuation can heavily affect meanings and emotions within a poem. Thus, workshopping with both Justin and Brian led to so many fruitful ideas and ways to strengthen our poetry. 

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the English Department and the McAnulty College NEH Endowment for sponsoring this event. Granted the opportunity to meet and work with some of these alumni was an experience. Having alumni back on campus seems to bring high energy to classrooms and the college.

Sigma Tau Delta’s Mingle Monday: Springtime Edition 

By: Bri McDonagh

With Easter break approaching rather quickly, Sigma Tau Delta’s event with the English Second Language students allowed for creativity to flow. This event included plastic eggs, paper, prompts, and originality. Each student was asked to pick an egg, inside each egg was a prompt for each to write a poem responding to the note. 

Why the eggs? Well, many may respond to the eggs relating to Christianity and maybe a Westernized idea of the Easter holiday. The decorated eggs that are often related to the spring holiday originated in Persia. This tradition began about 2,500 years ago by the Persians, who painted eggs for Nowruz (Persian New Year). This was to celebrate the arrival of springtime. Having this in mind, we wanted the students to be creative and invent a poem to celebrate springtime or even something they do for their faith. 

Working with Hannah Goss, President of Sigma Tau Delta, we both created prompts over the weekend and filled the eggs for the students. The prompts allowed the room for each student to write a poem about something they like or enjoy.  

During the event, the students engaged with each other by figuring out words to place in their poems. Hannah and I had the pleasure of helping the students create their poems. We even had the opportunity to learn from the students about meals they cook or families traditionally make. Other students talked about their favorite colors, seasons, places to visit, or even favorite colors. The creativity that was flowing from the group celebrating themselves also celebrated the idea of the rebirth of the Earth during springtime! 

Although this was the last Mingle Monday with Sigma Tau Delta, it was enjoyable working with these students. These students are witty, intelligent, and hard-working. Having had the opportunity to work with these students allowed me to be educated on their culture and college experience at Duquesne. Next year, Sigma Tau Delta plans on doing Mingle Mondays again with the English Second Language group to continue conversing and learning.  

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