I had the privilege of teaching ESL Level 1 this year (2016 – 2017) for the Ana Brito Foundation. The classes are held at Epworth United Methodist Church. I was asked to say something to the students as part of the graduation celebration. Here is what I said:
As a teacher, I can speak for all of us and say, we love and appreciate each one of you. We thank you for your commitment to coming here week after week, at the end of a long work day to learn English. You think that we are teaching you, and we are, but I also believe that we learn something new as we teach as well. Learning from you is the second best thing about being a teacher; the first is seeing you learn and grow in your command of the English language.
As teachers we get to share what we know, what we think we know and what we don’t know. So thank you for sacrificing your personal time, family time, and dinner time to come and learn.
At the beginning of the year, we asked many why you wanted to learn English. Many of you said you wanted to learn English to get a new job, a better job, communicate with co-workers, fill out a job application; the reasons are many. For most, learning English is seen as a way of being successful. I say with sincerity of heart that you are already successful. For I believe we cannot measure success by what we have or know or learn. We can however measure success by our relentless pursuit to better ourselves. Every time you walk through those doors you are being a living example to your children, families and friends of what success is. Learning a new language is not easy. Success is the courage to continue when you feel as if you are not learning. Success is the tenacity to push on when you feel as if you will never understand.
As someone famous once said, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal; it is the courage to continue that counts.”
There are countless stories of people just like you who didn’t speak English when they came to the United States. These same people are now teaching at the Universities, some are Actors, Musicians, Doctors, Lawyers, small business owners, politicians and more.
Just one example:
Jerry Yang was born in Taipei, Taiwan, in 1968, and his father died when he was two. When he was 8, he moved with the rest of his family to San Jose, Calif. Upon arriving in America, Jerry Yang knew just one word of English: “shoe.” He later became the CEO of Yahoo.
With that said, I leave you with these final words:
1) Never, never, never give up.
2) Keep learning
3) Dream big
4) Follow your heart
5) Please come back next year!
Thank you and Congratulations!!