Educators to learn more about Asian population

By Greg Gelpi

Breaking down the language and cultural barrier, Clayton County educators will get the opportunity today to learn about the county's growing Asian community.

In a staff development course on Southeast Asian cultures, school personnel will learn to communicate with and be more sensitive to the needs of a growing segment of the county's student body from 4 to 5 p.m. at the North Jonesboro Center.

"Various topics will be addressed to get them familiar with?the different customs and cultures," said Pery Khiev, community liaison for Clayton County Public Schools. "It's to raise awareness. We'll talk about the do's and don't's based on the perspective of Southeast Asian culture."

Community Liaisons provide services for the families of students who come from other countries, such as Laos, Cambodia, Mexico, Uruguay, Vietnam and other parts of the world.

Khiev and fellow Community Liaison Somchanh Singha will be on-hand to help facilitate the cultural education class.

The school system had 1,866 enrolled in ESOL classes during the 2002-2003 school year. This year that number is expected to increase, making it essential that teachers and other school staff learn how to talk to and interact with families who speak a different language and belong to a different culture.

Following the class, participants will be invited to go to a Thai temple in College Park.