The Elizabeth Bradley Turner Center is the heart of Continuing Education here at Columbus State University. Every day, this humble building gathers people of all types, ages, interests, and backgrounds together under one roof. But whatever their differences, they all share something timeless and magical — the desire to learn, to explore new things, to meet new people and develop new skills.. Everybody who enters this building has that desire. When you put all those remarkable people together, some amazing things are bound to happen.
Paige Burns, an English language instructor through our ELI (English Language Institute) program, had one such experience when a tornado warning prompted a class of much older learners to join her in her English classroom. Read her heartwarming story below.
“It was just another stormy spring day in Columbus when a tornado warning turned into a magical meeting of minds.
I teach a class of upper level international students who are enrolled in English classes at the ELI . We were in the midst of a lesson on prepositions when I saw movement in the hallway outside my room and a head poked in to inform me that we were under a tornado warning. Since my inner classroom is considered a “safe place” on our emergency plan, I began to resume my lesson when I realized the voices in the hall were of other misplaced learners in our building searching for shelter.
Although I briefly felt concern about how my shy young learners, aged 17-30, would feel as their safe learning environment was invaded, I opened the door and welcomed in a class of senior adult strangers.
My students remained in their seats while we pulled chairs around the exterior of the room to make room for approximately 20 more guests. I smiled, then took a deep breath from the front of the room and thought, “Now what?” as many pairs of eyes stared back.
After discovering these newcomers were from a class with CALL (the Columbus Academy of Lifelong Learning) studying the origins of the English language, I couldn’t help but smile at the serendipity of the situation as I let them know that while they were studying the origins of English, my students were learning how to use English in the first place. An immediate murmur of interest wafted around the room, and I invited my young learners to introduce themselves. What happened next could never have been scripted. Entire conversations were developed, questions were asked and answered, common places of interest were discussed, and laughter was shared.
The clock ticked away and the thankfully mild storm outside was forgotten. The encouragement that was poured into my students that day surpassed the rain that poured around our building, and the winds of affirmation that built their confidence that day far exceeded the destruction from the winds outside. It was a magical meeting of minds – young and old, native and international – but all students, all lifelong learners.”
This is the kind of wonderful story that happens all the time here at the Elizabeth Bradley Turner Center. Young and old, international and domestic, artist and engineer — all find a home here to build on their skills, and to meet and support one another in their journeys.
Blog Post by Scott Berson
Original Story by Paige Burns