MCC students to perform “Fork Tales” January 29



Students enrolled in Muscatine Community College’s (MCC) English Language Acquisition (ELA) program will share stories about food experiences in their home country and in the U.S. through “Fork Tales,” a one-of-a-kind performance organized by former Iowa Poet Laureate Mary Swander. The public is invited to attend this free event Wednesday, January 29 at 12:30 p.m. in the college’s Strahan Center, 152 Colorado St., Muscatine.

Students from Togo, Brazil, Ukraine, China, Mexico and Ivory Coast taking ELA classes at MCC spent several days working with Swander to craft their stories, focusing on the many ways in which food unites us all. While food ensures survival, it also represents ties to family, ethnicity, place, social settings, commu­nity and historical events. Students’ personal stories were recorded and then transcribed by Swander to help them create their monologues. In addition to the monologues, several students will be performing musical numbers with music and instruments from their home countries. Dumplings, which were identified as a universal food during the storytelling process, will also be served following the performance.

“We made a great connection with Mary Swander when she brought her play ‘Vang: A Drama About Recent Immigrant Farmers’ to campus last year,” said Naomi DeWinter, MCC President. “We knew we wanted to work together on a project and the ELA students were a great group for Swander to work with on storytelling.” 

“We want students to have unique and memorable experiences and learn in a really great, hands-on and practical way,” DeWinter said. “This provided the perfect means to do that. It’s amazing how you can communicate across languages when you want to tell a story.”

In addition to the January 29 performance, Swander has invited the students to perform their work at an upcoming event hosted by Grinnell College in Grinnell, Iowa.

Eastern Iowa Community Colleges (EICC) offers ELA classes in Clinton, Muscatine, Davenport, Bettendorf, Columbus Junction and West Liberty. ELA classes expand English communication skills for students who are not native English speakers. Classroom, small group and computer instruction promote reading, writing, listening and speaking skills. Students learn about personal communication, conducting business, work-related communication and civic engagement.

For more information about EICC’s ELA offerings visit

For questions about the January 29 performance of “Fork Tales,” contact Lisa Wiegel at 563-288-6005 or 

Toll-free 1-888-336-3907, email