Students Share Stories of Christmas in their Native Countries

December 24, 2021

Wayne Community College English Language Acquisition (ELA) students wrote and spoke about the Christmas traditions in their native countries.

Nearly four dozen students contributed essays to a “Christmas Around the World” book that covers stories about the holiday in 16 foreign countries and the United States of America. Four program teachers and staff members also wrote pieces for the book.

ELA Coordinator Maria Abalo-Zarate shows Meadow Lane Elementary School students the “Christmas Around the World” book her students wrote.

Three of the students, Dorita Escalante, a native of Guatemala; Karen Carcamo, a native of Honduras; and Gisela Zavala, a native of El Salvador; along with ELA Coordinator Maria Abalo-Zarate, a native of Argentina, shared their stories with a class at Meadow Lane Elementary School.

ELA Student Karen Carcamo points to her native country of Honduras during a presentation to students at Meadow Lane Elementary School.

Zavala is a beginning level student and Escalante is an advanced student in the program on the college’s campus in Goldsboro. Carcamo takes advanced ELA classes through the program’s location on the University of Mount Olive campus.

ELA Student Dorita Escalante tells Meadow Lane Elementary School second grade students about Christmas celebrations in her native country.

They presented copies of the book to the students in Jennifer Heim’s multiage second grade class and the school’s library. Heim’s class had been learning about Christmas traditions around the world the week of the ELA students’ visit.

ELA Student Gisela Zavala reads the section she wrote for the “Christmas Around the World” book.

Abalo-Zarate said she was very proud of the students who wrote for the book and those who presented to the class.

“Speaking in another language in front of other people is not easy,” she said. “These students want very much to be able to communicate with others in their new home.”

A Meadow Lane Elementary School student starts reading the “Christmas Around the World” book she was given by students in the WCC ELA program.

The book is part of an effort to educate others about different cultures and celebrate both similarities and differences. “We work very hard to help people understand we are all equal, whatever language we speak,” Abalo-Zarate said.

“Our students have taken this opportunity to share this most intimate memories of celebrating Christmas,” the introduction of the book says. “Every person has a story that includes customs and traditions that make them unique.”

Posing with the Meadow Lane Elementary School dragon mascot are Dorita Escalante, Maria Abalo-Zarate (left to right, front), Gisela Zavala, Karen Carcamo, and Lynn Rabhan (back). Abalo-Zarate is the ELA program coordinator and Rabhan is the college’s director of Transitional Programs for College and Career. The rest are ELA students.

The Wayne Community College English Language Acquisition program assists speakers of other languages with improving English reading, writing, and speaking skills as well as learning about American culture and enhancing employability skills. The classes are taught on campus and at off-campus sites. The program is a component of the Transitional Programs for College and Career. For more information about the program, call 919-739-6911 or go to

Wayne Community College is a public, learning-centered institution with an open-door admission policy located in Goldsboro, N.C. As it works to develop a highly skilled and competitive workforce, the college serves 10,000 individuals annually as well as businesses, industry, and community organizations with high quality, affordable, accessible learning opportunities, including more than 165 college credit programs. WCC’s mission is to meet the educational, training, and cultural needs of the communities it serves.