ESOL students and teachers from Watkins Mill High School traveled to The Shakespeare Theatre Company in Washington, DC on Thursday, December 19 for their production of Peter Pan and Wendy.
The Shakespeare Theatre Company provided Spanish speakers in the audience with live Spanish subtitles during the show.
ESOL theatre teacher Sharon Asro Faber organized the whole trip for the students. “Every year I take a lot of time to apply for different grants. This particular trip was supported by The City of Gaithersburg. [They] supplied the tickets,” Faber said. Faber also received a donation from an anonymous donor who paid for half of the cost of the bus they traveled on. Once the anonymous donor split the bus fare in half, each student who wanted to go on the trip only had to pay seven dollars.
“I always try to go to a play that has Spanish live captions subtitles because our students in ESOL theater are typically in ESOL levels one and two, so they’re beginner English language learners,” Faber added. “So this allows more accessibility to what is going on onstage and it makes them feel like they belong, like they’re connected, that they are good enough to experience a beautiful play just like all these other students.”
Faber believes that by The Shakespeare Theatre Company providing live Spanish caption subtitles for them, the students have been changed both emotionally and physically because they now get to walk taller as they have expanded their horizons.
On February 27, 2020, Watkins Mill High School ESOL will travel to Olney Theatre. “[The education director of Olney Theatre] reached out to me. They wanted our school front and center in terms of going and filling up the auditorium,” Faber said. Faber hopes to take the entire ESOL department this time, both students and staff, which could be close to 300 people.
The production will be a musical based on the storyline of an immigrant’s experience. The musical depicts the challenges that a mother and her daughter have to face while transitioning to their new life in America. “It’s very topical to what a lot of our ESOL students have experienced because they are new immigrants and some of them have been through very haranguing experiences coming into this country,” Faber added.
This upcoming field trip will be fully funded by the Olney Theatre and they will be providing the ESOL department with seven buses.