Amazing Stories of International Students

Phyl CampbellStarred Page By Phyl Campbell, 23rd Aug 2013 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/3ujptced/
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>Personal Experiences

In my year teaching English as a Second Language as an Arkansas Reads! Americorps volunteer, I had a chance to experience many wonderful people from all over the world, and I wanted to share some of their stories with you. When you see someone who doesn't look or sound like you, I hope you will engage them and see what you can learn from their experiences.

About AmeriCorps

AmeriCorps is a wonderful program to encourage community volunteerism, much like the Peace Corps does on an international level. You can learn more about AmeriCorps by clicking here for the Wikipedia link or going to the Americorps website here. One major benefit of the AmeriCorps program is money for college or to repay student loans.

Now the part I hope you really care about -- hearing from the students!!

Zoila (Peru)

My name is Zoila, and I come from Peru. Five years ago, I was visiting the US on a tourist visa and I was visiting a mental health clinic. We were looking into the opportunity to provide better mental health services to Hispanic families in the area. Still, I was surprised when that company offered me a work-visa and a job in the United States.

It is my dream to work with families and help them to have better mental health. But writing the reports in English, when I conducted my sessions in Spanish, was very difficult. So I started taking free English classes here to open my ears to English. I had a good job, a wonderful teacher, and a great tutor. My life was full.

Unfortunately, budget cuts at my workplace eliminated my position. I am qualified to move up into a different position, but my English skills must be better. Moreover, I now have to pass TOEFL if I wish to apply for this new position.

I have a lot of stress about passing TOEFL. My ears are opening, but I worry at my age, it is not enough. Still, my tutor and my teacher worried about me and reassured me. My classmates encouraged me. I will do this. I will pass TOEFL and get my job back. And I will owe my success to the love and care I am shown everyday at school.

Fahimeh (Iran)

My husband is a visiting scholar to the University of Arkansas. We have two young boys who are almost men, and we want them to know English, because English is really important to be successful in Iran. When people in Iran know that my sons have studied English from native people, they will gain more respect and success.

On his first day of school, my younger son cried and cried. No one could speak Farsi to him and no one could understand him. I was so upset. But I talked with my teacher and my classmates here at school. They had good experiences. They understood that a mother worries with love for her sons. But they told me he would pick up English very quickly in the school. They were right. My sons very quickly fell in love with their American classes. Now they don't want to study their Iranian lessons!

I love my country; I love my government. But my home away from home will always be with my new friends and family here at school.

Christine (Cameroon)

My name is Christine, and I come from Cameroon in Africa. In my country, there is a great competition to allow the people of Cameroon to pursue the dreams of America. I was able to win one of those prized awards, and used it to bring my husband and our four children to Fayetteville. It is my dream to study nursing with the technology that is not commonly available in my country. So I have to study English very hard.

At this school, I was able to greatly improve my English in a short period of time. I was able to take the TOEFL exam and am now working on my PRN license. My children are happy to be going to school and engaging with American teenagers. My husband was able to find a job. Our family is together, which is the most important thing.

Coming to the United States was more difficult than I anticipated. I especially had problems with speaking, because my french accent is very strong. A lot of words in french and English are spelled the same, but have different pronunciation. Other words with the same pronunciation have a different meaning than what I wanted to communicate. But my teacher and tutor worked with me, and I worked really hard, and together we saw progress in my abilities.

I am applying for nursing opportunities, and I have recently passed the nursing training course. I am on my way!

Veronica (Mexico)

My name is Veronica and I come from Mexico. The most important goal for me is my daughter's education. My daughter is the star of my life and she pushes me everyday. When I am sad or depressed because I am not learning English the way I want to, I focus on my daughter and I think about why I am studying so hard.

My daughter is so smart, but we really have to work on spelling and grammar. Spelling is so hard for her – it is hard for adults, too! I have to learn lots of vocabulary, spelling, and grammar because it is important for me just like it is important for her.

My school is really so helpful to me. Not only do I learn a lot about English and grammar and speaking, but I make connections as a woman and as a mother. We women understand about pushing our children and wanting the best and having to do the best because our children are our bright future.

Tao (China)

My name is Tao, and I come from China. I came to the United States with my wife. She got a job at the university in the biology lab. It was a two year position. We don't have any kids yet, so we got a lot of free time when Lin wasn't working to explore Fayetteville and explore America.

I think everyone should come to America and learn something about this country. When Americans see reports (about China) in the media, it's not always good or completely true. It is the same for us in China. There is far too little information for people to judge for themselves. There are a lot of similarities between our two countries. Big cities are too crowded for my taste. Small cities have people who know each other and look after each other. When I was a child, I lived in a house where the neighbors knew each other. When I came to the United States, I was a little worried to be living in an apartment near so many strangers. I was glad we didn't have kids, because of how hard it would be. But not anymore.

Downstairs from me lived a father and son. Many days, we'd meet in the parking lot as I was on my way to class and he was on the way to take his kid to school or go to work. I didn't think much about him at first. He was just a man who was not from my country. He was a stranger to me. But as the days and weeks and months passed, the man stopped feeling like a stranger. I still didn't know him well. I still don't think I could pronounce his name, even if I remembered it. But I recognized him. He was part of my life.

I never expected one night he would come to my house. It was after 9pm, and Lin didn't want me to answer the door. Nothing good knocked on the door after 9 at night. But I looked through the peephole and I saw the man from downstairs. I knew he was a good person and a father, so I opened the door for him. He asked to borrow a cup of sugar from me. I thought it was such an odd request, but since he held out his measuring cup, I filled it with sugar and gave it back to him. My wife said I was lucky. He could have been anybody.

The next day, the man knocked on my door again. This time, he had a plateful of chocolate chip cookies. He told me he had wanted to do something for me since I was always treating him and his son with kindness. He told me how embarrassed he was that he had run out of sugar. My wife and I enjoyed the wonderful cookies that night.

But the thing that surprised me most about my time here is this school. It's a free school – I still can't believe it – and I've been here for two years. I could not believe that in America, which media says is very capitalistic and selfish, there are so many teachers who volunteer their time so that I can understand them and others better.

Yesterday, my wife and I were in Wilson Park, and we saw a mom and dad with three kids. The kids all had bikes and helmets, and we just looked at each other and said, “oh, it's so expensive!” So I guess we're not ready to have kids yet. But having this opportunity to work and learn here in the United States, to see how the other half of the world lives, it's very special to me. I am grateful for my parents, grateful for my wife, and grateful for my adventure in the United States. One day when I have a child, I will teach about my wonderful experience. I hope one day my child will also experience American adventure.

Comments

As you can see, I have had MANY wonderful students from all over the globe. The above is just a very small sample: in my year with the AmeriCorps program, I worked with 75 to 100 students per week, and I learned so much! It does happen that I am an English teacher by nature and training, but all you need to teach others and volunteer is the ability to use what you know and have a willing spirit to help others.

I'd love to hear about your experiences -- tell me in the Comments section below!

Tags

Americorps, Arkansas Reads, English Language, Esl, Foreign Students, Personal Experience, Personal Experiences, Personal Story

Meet the author

author avatar Phyl Campbell
I am "Author, Mother, Dreamer." I am also teacher, friend, Dr. Pepper addict, night-owl. Visit my website -- phylcampbell.com -- or the "Phyl Campbell Author Page" on Facebook.

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Comments

author avatar Retired
23rd Aug 2013 (#)

Beautiful article.

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author avatar Retired
23rd Aug 2013 (#)

well writen

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
23rd Aug 2013 (#)

Thanks so much!

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author avatar cnwriter..carolina
23rd Aug 2013 (#)

well done Phyl...thank you...

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
24th Aug 2013 (#)

Thank you Carolina!

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author avatar Sivaramakrishnan A
24th Aug 2013 (#)

Thanks Phyl for sharing. I like especially Tao from China's experience - the feelings and yearnings of people are just the same. If we realize this basic human nature, our world will be so much a better place - siva

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
24th Aug 2013 (#)

I agree -- thanks, Siva!

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author avatar Connie McKinney
25th Aug 2013 (#)

Great job, Phyl. I loved all the stories. I was struck by how hard they all work to study and learn English. We could all learn about developing a strong work ethic from these wonderfuland inspiring folks from all over the world.

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
25th Aug 2013 (#)

Thanks, Connie! Yes, they are great and inspired me every day.

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