Immersion in Culture at Wilkes University

Student Center showcases display in diversity

WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) -- A local college is celebrating the culture of Latin America but it's more than just a lesson in diversity. It is a connection that benefits a country in Central America and a campus community.

The elaborate costumes, dancing and music on display at Wilkes University's Henry Student Center help demonstrate the rich culture of a country in Central America. "This is everything what we can do in Panama. What we have in Panama," said Angie Rodreguez.

Billed as Panamanian Cultural Day, the event helped showcase a connection Wilkes University has with Panama. Both parties signed a partnership nearly two years ago formalizing an educational affiliation. With Wilkes University's help, Panama helps to fulfill a goal of having its public schools become fully bilingual. 

For 16 weeks now, Ms. Rodreguez has worked at Wilkes polishing her English skills and new teaching methods. "They give us a lot of tools, a lot of resources, a lot of whatever you can think of." Fellow Panamanian teacher Mario Serracin said, "In my particular case, I can say that it's going to help me a lot."

While teachers like Angie and Mario are benefitting through this exchange program, they are not the only ones from Panama who are taking advantage of it here at Wilkes University. 16 other students from Panama are working on degrees here.

The lessons aren't limited to the Wilkes campus. Wilkes Early Childhood Education major Dominique DelPriore visited Panama last year. "Initially, it was meant to educate the teachers in Panama to help them with creative writing." The experience for the Wilkes senior from Dupont became more than just "all give". "I gained a lot of cultural information. I gained experience. I gained lessons in life and I gained knowledge of how the teaching system works in Panama." Wilkes University Senior Vice President/Provost Anne Skleder, Ph.D. added, "The key to this entire partnership is that it has to be enriching to both."

The Panama-Wilkes partnership also provides educational opportunities to Panama's professionals doing diplomatic work in its country's equivalence to the U.S. State Department.


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