“This is my first poem in English!” raved one Belgrade student. That accomplishment was the result of the 2018 winter intensive camp for Access, a program, sponsored by the Department of State, providing English-language education for underprivileged youth in over 85 countries. English Language Fellow Jean Linehan is such a believer in the program that she traveled to four Serbian cities in four days to visit each and every Access group in Serbia.
More than 120 Access students in Serbia participated over the course of the five-day winter program. This year’s theme was museums, so each group studied famous museums around the world—and then created exhibits for their own museums. Jean visited each of the four program sites and created lessons to support the overall museum theme. Here’s a quick look at Jean’s tour and curricula: in Nis, on the topic of love in art, the students worked in teams to design a piece of art using only sticky notes. Access Vranje, working as paleontologists in their own natural history museum, had to work collaboratively and quickly to figure out how to put the pieces of a shattered dinosaur together before the opening of their museum. Bujanovac students, after studying several famous self portraits, determined that “selfies” are modern-day self portraits. They then drew their own self portraits based on selfies in their phones. The Belgrade students talked about poetry as a form of art. They then created collages to represent opposing colors and shapes on which they later wrote “diamante” style poems using opposites.
The last day for each group culminated in the opening of their museums, where the guests and visitors were given tickets to walk around and look at the exhibits. Access students explained the history and the process of making the pieces of art in their exhibits. It was absolutely fabulous. The creativity, dedication, and hard work of both the Access students and their teachers was heartwarming and inspiring. This really proved their motto: Access Is More than English.

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