Cristina Ayala’s inspirational graduation speech

Student Cristina Ayala, from Colombia, gave this inspiring speech at the Blue Hills Adult Education ESOL graduation ceremony in June:

I was reading something about Katie Couric, who is an American news person who covered many important events, including: The historic presidential election of 2008, The September 11 attacks, The Columbine tragedy, The Oklahoma City bombing, and The Funeral of Princess Diana.

And I was shocked when I knew that one day she was working washing dishes. It shows me that one of the most important things in America is EDUCATION.

That’s why, I want to thanks to Ellen Borgenicht, Mary Ann Sliwa, and all the others teachers here for being worry about our education, and also I want to say to students that never stop learning, because no body knows what we can be in the future.

Don’t forget it:
Education is the road,
Education is the way,
Education is the power.

Congratulations, Lorena!Lorena_ElSavador

Congratulations to Lorena Y, from El Salvador, who recently became a US citizen. She has been an ESOL student at Blue Hills Adult Education for two years. She started in the Beginner class and is now in Advanced 1. An assistant manager at McDonalds, she is married and has two girls, ages 7 and 3.

Blue Hills Adult Education helped Lorena prepare for the citizenship test. “My teacher, Marie, helped with the questions on the test,” she explains. “It’s easier for me now that I can write words.

“I can’t believe I’m an American,” she says. During the citizenship ceremony, “I was very excited and I felt sad and I cried. It was exciting and emotional.”

Her advice to other immigrants: “Learn English! You have to read the books and study the history of America, it’s very important.”


Congratulations, Claudia!

Congratulations to Claudia H, from Colombia, who recently earned a Nail Technician Certificate. She hopes to start working as a manicurist soon. She has been an ESOL student at Blue Hills Adult Education for two years. She started in Intermediate 1 and is now in Advanced 1.

“Since I started in the school to learn English, it has opened many opportunities and new ways to live in this country,” she says. “To all the people who come to this country to have a decent life, the only thing I can say is that do not lose hope to do many things to be a better person every day. We can achieve everything we want, but don’t forget that you have to have a respect for this country that is giving us this opportunity.

Valentina Kobrina’s story is published in newspaper

Blue Hills Adult Education ESOL graduate Valentina Kobrina wrote a story that was published in the September 2012 issue of the newspaper The Change Agent. Published by the New England Literacy Resource Center, the newspaper features articles about social justice for adult education students and teachers. Valentina’s story was selected from hundreds of stories submitted by other students.

Valentina is from the Russian Federation. A piano teacher, she is married and has two sons.

Heroes Among Us

By Valentina Kobrina

On April 26, 1986, there was a nuclear accident at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine. The accident killed or injured many people and the economic and environmental damage has been massive.

I was only 11 years old in 1986, and my sister was 2. We lived in a small town in Siberia. My father worked as a flight mechanic on a helicopter. He was 35 years old. I remember that day very clearly. When I came home from school, I heard my mom and dad having a heated discussion. My mother was crying. The government was calling for volunteers to help with the Chernobyl accident. My father signed up as a volunteer. He and a few others from our region were sent to Chernobyl. Now I understand why my mother cried that day. It was not a regular flight mission. It was a dangerous mission that has affected my father (and many others) ever since.

Right after the explosion at Chernobyl, lots of firemen, military people, and other specialists were sent to work on the reactor and surroundings. They were later called “liquidators.” Once they got the maximum allowed amount of radiation, they were sent back home and others came to take their place. My father lived with other liquidators in a nearby city. In June in the Ukraine, the flowers are blooming, and so they were that year. It was hard to realize that there was death all around them.

My dad was there for two weeks. He returned home alive, but not healthy. After a while he developed serious health problems. He started to be sick often. He began having problems with his lungs and nervous system. Doctors told him that if he did not take good care of himself, he would not live long. He listened to their advice. He was discharged from his job. It was a shock for my dad, because he loved his work. All the other guys from my father’s crew had similar problems. Some are already dead. Others have lots of health problems.

After the Chernobyl accident, all the liquidators were awarded medals. The government established a fund for them. On the 25th anniversary of the tragedy, my father was awarded the “Medal for Valor and Compassion,” but he can’t get his health back. Recently my father was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. Meanwhile, our government doesn’t do much for the liquidators. They have not received many of the privileges and payments that they were promised. When my father realized what was happening, he started to fight for his rights in court. After many years, he won and got some payments and privileges for himself. I think this situation is the same everywhere. At first, the government needs the heroes and volunteers – and perhaps gives them medals. But then the government forgets about them.

All of the liquidators are heroes to me. They didn’t think at that time about fame and medals. They went to save our lives. We all have to be thankful for what they did. It could have ended awfully if they did not show their heroism. I asked my father, “Would you do it again, now that you know about the consequences?” He said, “No, probably not.” But then he thought about it some more, and he said, “But, if not me, then who? Someone has to do it.”

For me, he always will be a hero and I am proud of him!

Paying it Forward

By Myojoung Kim

A Few years ago, my friends and I had decided to go to Rhode Island. As soon as our children went to school, we hopped in my friend’s car excitedly. We were talking a lot while driving on highway I95. We were too preoccupied with talking to see a huge pot hole on the road. My friend who was driving didn’t notice the pot hole and ran through it. We heard a bang. It seemed okay on the highway in spite of that bang, but after entering a driveway, we got a flat tire. We had to pull over on the shoulder. We didn’t know what to do. After many cars ignored us, a middle-aged woman pulled over in front of us and asked us if we needed some help. She led us to the nearest gas station and luckily there was a police man. She asked him for some help. The kind police man changed the tire. After the problem was solved, I asked her why she helped us. She said that someone had helped her when she had the exact same problem so she just paid it forward. We learned how helping each other made the world a wonderful place.

“Before I came here I couldn’t speak English. I did not understand people and they did not understand me. Now my English is better. I can talk with my neighbors. I can read the instructions on my child’s homework and can help them out. I can email my friends and my job. I can use the computer and my grammar is better.” — Michel F, from Haiti


“I didn’t know any English before this. Now I can explain myself. We made a lot of friends in a lot of different nationalities. The teachers are incredible.” — Hoda N, from Lebanon


“My English is better. I understand more people and they understand me. I can talk with my neighbors better. I have a lot of American friends. I learn more computer programs. I can come to my kid’s school to volunteer and help the teacher with class work.” — Oksana K, from Ukraine


“I like computers, typing, talking, and I make good friends.” — Hicham B, from Morocco


“Before I came in the program I don’t understand anything. Now my English is better. I understand the teacher. I can talk with my neighbors better. When I go in the office I can explain what I want. Before the program, I never use the computer. Now I can! I can send the email, type something, study English. I read better, I write, my grammar is better, too. The program helps me very much.” — Ernst L, from Haiti


“I like English class because it helps me to improve my life.” — Maria L, from Cape Verde


“I improved my reading and writing. My tongue came untied.” — Natalie K, from Russia