Dear International Students,
I am speaking to you today not as a teacher but as a witness—a person who sees what is happening and who speaks about what he sees.
I would like to tell you what I see now, what I have seen this quarter, and what I see every quarter when I look at the people in this program and in my classroom.
Here’s what I see:
I see men and women who have traveled thousands of miles to live in a foreign country.
I see women and men who struggle every day trying to communicate in this crazy language called English.
I see people who run from building to building to be on time, and then have the grace and the patience to listen attentively while a teacher challenges them to understand.
I see young women and men who for the first time in their lives are living away from their parents, who for the first time have to pay the bills, do the shopping, do the cooking, and the cleaning.
I see students who endure the daily confusion of living in a country that seems to have many, many rules and sometimes no rules at all.
I see those who are going just a little bit crazy trying to figure out what each teacher wants, what that store clerk just said, and why complete strangers talk to you at the bus stop.
I see husbands and wives who never realized that living overseas would challenge them to love each other even more and whose children would learn English much, much faster than they would.
I see people who share with us their dreams of the future, who share the precious hope of becoming who they truly want to be.
I see risk takers who are gambling that the time, money, and energy they invest today will result in the future pay off of a better life.
I see children who carry the hopes and dreams of their parents, and who know that failure is not an option.
I see a group of people who seem very, very different from one another, and from their American teachers. But I know that underneath the surface differences of culture and gender, we human beings are 99.9% genetically identical. We humans, for all intents and purposes, are the same person repeated 7 billion times.
It is because of this amazing similarity that we know what you feel and share in your dreams and feel honored to participate in helping you make those dreams come true. And so we, the instructors in the Campus IEP, would like to bear witness to all that you do for us and to say thank you for how much you enrich our lives.
Thank you so much, dear students. You are truly wonderful to work with.
Speech written by Richard Alishio, IELP Instructor