NTC offers summer immersion program

Jul 12th, 2013 | By | Category: Online TC News, Tribal College News, Web Exclusive
By Daniel Vandever

SUMMER IMMERSION. Immersion camp participant Matilda Descheny gives a presentation on language preservation.

Navajo Technical College’s (NTC, Crownpoint, NM) School of Diné Studies, Education and Leadership and the Navajo Nation Department of Diné Education (NN DODE) collaborated to offer a four-week immersion program designed for New Mexico’s Diné language and culture teachers. Held at NTC, the camp featured guest lectures by various traditional Navajo leaders and elders.

“I’ve always advocated for the revitalization of language and culture,” stated Matilda Descheny, who teaches at Ch’oosh’gai Community School in western New Mexico. “It’s challenging in the schools because most students speak through the dominant society’s language, which is English. Speaking the Navajo language requires a lot, not just in the words, but in the sounds we make.”

Nine teachers representing five different schools in New Mexico participated in the program, which emphasized the development of effective teaching methods that can help preserve the Navajo language. “The camp was important because it gives Diné teachers a motivation to keep the language moving instead of stopping,” explained camp participant Mary Ann Clark of Twin Lakes, New Mexico. “We learned how to develop a child’s mind in a way where we could steer it in the right direction with Diné language.”

Dr. Wesley Thomas, chair of NTC’s School of Diné Studies, Education, and Leadership, was pleased with the program. “Overall I think the program went well considering it was the first year we’ve held such an event,” Thomas stated. “Language and cultural preservation are key to the Navajo people’s future so it’s crucial that we effectively teach our youth in each subject area. I think a lot of good things came out of the four weeks the program took place and hopefully the instructors will utilize what they learned here at their schools.”

Funding for the Diné Language and Culture Immersion Program was supported by a grant awarded to the NN DODE by the New Mexico Department of Education. For more information about the Diné Language and Culture Immersion Program, contact Dr. Wesley Thomas at (505)786-4333 or by email at wthomas@navajotech.edu.

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