From The Blog

Personal Statement

by Shirley Yang

I look up the clock on the wall. Oh, My God! It’s almost 1am in the morning and I am still preparing for the tomorrow’s history mid-term exam. It covers severn chapters from colonial period to Civil War. I have to say I am not good at historical date, figures and events. The American history is totally a new story for me. I learnt Chinese history since in primary school and I am not good at it. How can I deal with the American history? The figures are so obnoxious, to be frank. James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, Andrew Johnson.. Why their name are so similar? Their contribution are also confusing in terms of different period of time.

 

I know taking this GPA killer class is just a matter of time. For majority of international students with no background of America history, it is not a piece of cake. I have to admit that I lied in my first history essay, the one argued about wether or not college students should still learn history. I stated my point that history classes are so beneficial to international students because it provides new perspectives for them to know America better rather than being a tourist. I should be honest about it. How can I finish three short essay and eight definition writing during one hour and fifteen minutes? Well, I comfort myself that college courses are not all easy as you thought, you have to challenge yourself to find out your deeper potential. Yes, it is true. I already know that when I rented the textbooks from bookstore.

 

Now, it’s half way there. I am still hang in there. I think when Thomas Jefferson proposed the Declaration of Independence, he wouldn’t imagine that a Chinese girl will learn  this after 200 years.

 

by Jose Morales

I just watched one of the best TEDed videos I have seen so far. It is about spelling, but more so about the meaningful structures of language that we as speakers take for granted. Whether we’re learning a new language from scratch, or just speaking our native language we rarely think about the nature of words. As it turns out, once you break up words into morphological constituents, you realize that words are ideas combined to create a larger idea that transcends immediacy and situational boundaries.

The video (that will be linked below) shows the true beauty of simple words like one, and how from this simple numerical concept many other words such as alone and onion flourished into existence. I think this video is great as a follow up, to the English Conversation Club meeting we had this p0ast monday, in which our special guest Kelly Giles (a librarian at Rose Library), showed us the visual nature of Asian characters to descibe words like mountain and mouth. Language is a beautiful invention.

by Jose Morales

 

I can’t believe it has been three years. Three years. That is one year short of a presidential term. Yes, it is hard to believe I have been working at the ELLS for so long, yet It all makes sense in retrospect. I have worked at the learning centers since sophomore year, back when I lived in a tiny apartment (yet waaaaaaaaay cleaner than my current house) and my parent’s had just given me my bicycle as an early birthday present. Kristen still had her office in Wilson Hall, and she did not know yet that she was allergic the the iconic building. It was back in that office where I had my very first job interview, and yes, fortunately I scored the job.

It was Friday November the 9th, and I was getting recognized for being a valuable tutor. I had never thought of myself as “valuable” or “outstanding”, let alone a “servant leader”, and yet as I was being recognized in the tutor recognition ceremony, I couldn’t help but to feel a little sense of pride on myself. Not selfish pride, rather something along the lines of a more healthy feeling–perhaps, content. Working at the ELLS has been a great opportunity for me to grow as an individual, as a student and as a future professional. I’ve presented at conferences, I’ve ridden a train to Baltimore in “business casual” attire, I have talked with the Deans of JMU, I have represented the learning centers at multiple events and trust me, it all feels pretty good.

And yet, the award is not all about me. I have to thank JMU and the Learning Centers and Kristen for being quite simply: awesome. I wouldn’t have done any all of those things if it had not been for the opportunity they gave me to embody one of the roles I admire the most : that of a teacher.

And so to that I say, thank you. Thanks to all who have come to me eager to learn something new. No award means more than an honest “thank you” at 6 PM  when the lights of Taylor Down Under have dimmed and It’s time to pack up my “English Conversation Club” sign within the messy insides of my backpack.

by Jose Morales

Here at the English Language Learner Services we love to help you with your English communication skills. Whether is written or spoken, we have a program or resource to help you as a student thrive in the English language, and succeed by applying it academically. When we think of language we think conversations and cahtter; we think books and presentations. And these associations are all by no means incorrect but sometimes we tend to overlook an equally important dimension of language communication–non-verbal communication or body language.

I think we tend to overlook the importance of body language since it’s as natural as it is automatic. Body language lacks grammar for it does not need one. “Grammatically” speaking, body language across the human species is universal. That is to say that someone from China and someone from Brazil will probably perceive as sad someone who appears to be crying. Also, people from complete different cultures perceive similarly bodily positions of authority, protection and emotion. We can all sense when someone is shy, nervous, outgoing or feels powerful. And yet, I had never thought of the importance of non-verbal language in everyday communication.

Last week however, I was browsing TED talks on TED.COM (I highly recommend visiting this site) and stumbled upon a great talk by Harvard proffesor Amy Cudy titled “Your Body Language Shapes who you are”. This talk opened my eyes to the amazing world of pyschology and the profound results attained lately in the field of body language communication. In her talk, Dr. Cuddy talks about how we can shape people’s perceptions of ourselves by just changing our body language. Many students have come to me with questions about how to interact in proffesional settings, whether it is a business reception or a job interview. I usually just tell them to be confident and natural when they speak; but I often forget that confidence can’t only be communicated by one’s tone of voice, we have to look confident to be perceived as confident. Our body language needs to speak for us too. We need to appear receptive and powerful, yet inviting. I know all these concepts seem rather abstaract just by eading about it, and I am probably doing a terrible job at explaining Dr. Cuddy’s research, but I really encourage you to watch this inspiring talk and learn how your non-verbal language can enhance and help you communicate even more effectively what you are wishing to verbally convey. So click on the video below and enjoy! :)

I remember the Idea hitting me with an air of promise. It was last year’s spring when I went to George Mason for a quick tour about their ESOL programs. I had my mind set, ready for learning and brainstorming. At GMU, I learned about the various services they provide to English language learners. They had it all, including a “conversation group” which basically aimed to facilitate English-language learning through the most effective communication medium of all: conversation.  I knew I wanted to start something new. I wanted to help students in the position I was in merely five years ago, when I left Guatemala and moved to America.

The idea of Conversation Club appealed to me from the moment I saw it in action. I envisioned myself engaged in interesting conversations and cultural discussions. Both fortunately and unfortunately, JMU lacked any program as such geared toward non-native speakers. It was my calling, my opportunity to begin something on my own. Thus, I began the process to incorporate a Conversation club for students here at JMU. I started a pilot of Conversation Club a few weeks after I began the planning. It took place in East Campus Library in a rather forgotten corner in the second floor. The first meeting I remember, set the record for the least attendees, you guessed it, zero. Though my expectations were damaged a little, I decided to advertise it more until I found the first conversation group in the history of the English Conversation Club. Two weeks later and my first two-students made an appearance. I continued the English Conversation Club  pilot until the end of that semester and I left with the motivation to expand the idea further.
Now, I have a tremendous sense of accomplishment. From one semester to the other, the club grew exponentially. An average of six students come to every meeting. As the group grew, I thought It would be a good idea to also expand on the meeting days. Conversation Club now meets two days a week for an hour.

The way in which the club has evolved and progressed has struck me. As we keep meeting, I sense an air of confidence, friendship and trust building with every conversation that takes place. Even native speakers now are eager to join and help me out with the task. I definitely want to keep doing this program as long as I’m at JMU. I love teaching students things that you can’t learn in a well-structured semester-long course. As for the future of the club, it might be a little uncertain what my next step will be.  It could be anything. Of what I’m sure is that mo matter what students might need or want from the Club, I will be there to talk about it.

By Cecilia Enriquez

Source of my passion

  • My American dream is to be a doctor and organize a group of doctors that are willing to help me and going with me into far communities that has little or no access to medicine.
  • As a Bolivian, my plan is to go to these towns and be a part of their community; I want to convince as many people as I can to go to see a doctor when they feel sick, in some cases before it is too late.
  • I talked with different people about what they believe and think of medicine. As a Bolivian, I also share the though of the importance of the natural remedies and herbs, but i am sure that medicine and vaccine helps us to prevent diseases.
  • My other plan is to create more health centers and facilities in the US, where people can be check if they feel sick or need medical attention. No matter if they have no insurance, low economic status, nor if their legal status is unknown.

Experiences on the bus

  • As a Bolivian, I know that medicine does not reach far places and i also know that traditions are a big influence for not seeking help.
  • At a young age, i saw a boy with polio and burns on his face, he impacted me and had a big influence on my future plans.
  • I felt so bad that i started to cry, i could not understand why he had polio if it could be prevented at birth.
  • Since that day I knew that i had to do something to decrease that number of children that had preventable diseases.

Immigration experiences

  • A new different experience was high school in the US, I felt lost and unprotected  every time that i was there. It was so frustrating to not be able to communicate and understand my teachers that I cried every day when i came back from school.
  • My plans for the future and my dad encouraged me to continue, I stayed after school almost every day to read, and understand books that were probably for elementary school, but later I started to stayed with my teachers to understand the subject and i joined a group where they helped me with my pronunciation.

Father’s influence

  • I see my dad as a role model because of his dedication for doing the best he can for my family no matter the setback.
  • although he could not reach his dreams to become a doctor while we were in Bolivia, he emphasized on his family and taught us the importance of life and family. He somehow reach his dream through us. From a very young age my dad told me stories of how was the first year at medical school in Bolivia.

By Cecilia Enriquez

Coming to the US was a big change for my family and me, everyday we learned something new from American society. We arrived at my uncle’s house, where we stayed for a month, and then my dad decided to find a place for us. He rented an apartment and we moved there with nothing but our suitcases. For my brother and I, it was fun to live like that because we usually said that we were camping. Little by little the apartment started looking like our home. Later my brother and I took a test and went to school, he entered to middle school and I entered to tenth grade of high school.

High School
A new different experience was high school in the US, I felt lost and unprotected  every time that i was there. It was so frustrating to not be able to communicate and understand my teachers that I cried every day when i came back from school. My dad always encourage us to be strong and continue reaching our dreams, he sat with me after he got off from work and talked to me. For me, my dreams and plans were clear and even before I came here, I remembered  I told my dad that he will not regret coming to US because i would go to college with a scholarship. My plans for the future and my dad encouraged me to continue, I stayed after school almost every day to read, and understand books that were probably for elementary school, but later I started to stayed with my teachers to understand the subject and i joined a group where they helped me with my pronunciation. Talking in English was harder for me because my peers made fun of how i talked, but this experience did not stop me from learning English. By the end of my senior year I completed one of my dreams that was going to college with a scholarship.

By Cecilia Enriquez

The passion that drives me everyday to continue studying and giving the best of me to people around me is my American dream. Before I came to US, I set goals that would help me to make my dream came true. My American dream is to be a doctor and organize a group of doctors that are willing to help me and going with me into far communities that has little or no access to medicine. The first place that I want to go with this group of doctors is to little towns in Bolivia. People[DS1] who live in these little towns are not use to medicine because it is expensive or is not available in the area. They grow with traditional medicine and every time they get sick they drink herb teas or use other plants, but sometimes this is not enough to prevent and cure many existing diseases. My plan is [DS2] to go to these towns and be a part of their community; I want to convince as many people as I can to go to see a doctor when they feel sick, in some cases before it is too late. I also want to emphasize the importance of vaccines in children, and preventable medicine. While we are there, I want to check and see every one’s health, and treat them if is necessary. My other plan is to create more health centers and facilities in the US, where people can be check if they feel sick or need medical attention. No matter if they have no insurance, low economic status, nor if their legal status is unknown.


[DS1]Why do people believes that??

[DS2]Background”Identity”

 


By Kouadio Koko

This paper is written to provide information on my career, and a general outlook of my professional ambitions with a public health nursing focus. I am very comfortable with public health nursing. I believe that a career choice should not be focused only on financial need, but also what you will enjoy and be fully invested in. I believe that public health nursing is a good place for me to develop my skills which include leadership, role model, and management skills.

First, I want to be a leader for many reasons. Nurses do not have an easy job, but we have absolutely no choice but to hope that change can always happen. By being a leader I can contribute politically to influence authorities to give full attention to public health which is mainly prevention. “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” In healthcare prevention is not always a political priority but the focus is on cure. My increased desire to be a public health nurse will allow me to switch political views to consider prevention as opposed to cure.

Another benefit to being a public health nurse is the fact that I’m going to be a role model. Being a role model is one of the goals that I have set for my nursing career. I see a unique opportunity for me to assist with the necessary social interventions that are needed to reacquaint society with the need to have good role models. Another benefit of being a public health nurse is my ability to develop unique skills, which will be needed both on the job and off the job.

Last but not least, my management skills would definitely help me achieve my goals. The biggest area of improvement for me is in the area of time management which basically means how one uses his or her personal time. In order for me to be successful in the era of nursing and management skills I will continue to improve my time management skills.

In conclusion, I can modestly state that being a public health nurse will be a life changing experience for me, both from a personal and a professional point of view. There are many challenges that lie ahead, but I am prepared to meet those challenges through hard work, determination, respect and an acute appreciation for the nursing field.


By Ahmad Abdul Ali

Leaving Kabul and escaping to Mazar-Sharif was a difficult but life saving migration which distanced us from the ongoing war in Kabul. As I was five years old, it was time for me to go to school, which I looked forward to with a great passion. Our school was very small and did not have electricity, a bathroom, nor enough chairs and tables. Chairs and tables were distributed on a first come first served basis. Since there was no heating system, school was canceled for winter and most of the spring until the weather got warm enough to hold classes. School supplies were the students’ obligation and in most cases I shared a book with five more kids and used a chalk board as my notebook. If I got lucky enough to use a paper notebook, I would use pencil so I could reuse that paper notebook several times before it was used to kindle the fire. Conditions going to school were neither pleasant nor safe because of attacks occurring near school which immediately resulted in termination of school for weeks. Therefore, under these settings most kids dropped out of school but this was not an option for me. Even though, my school cannot be seen as school through the eyes of the western countries that was all I had to get my education in the first grade. I value this hardship experience because it taught me to appreciation things that most of us take for granted such as school supplies, teachers and most importantly education.

After my first year in Afghan school, the Taliban reached Mazar-Sharif and my parents faced another crucial decision that would shape our lives significantly. Eventually, traveling for days we reached Turkmenistan and were accepted as refugees under one condition that we could no longer leave the country. Being refugees does not give one full rights that citizens have. Life was difficult but much better than in Afghanistan. Once again I was very excited to go to school even though I had to learn Russian and Turkmen. It was difficult to learn these new languages while maintaining my Farsi and Uzbek, which I spoke with my family. Even though I was racially and religiously discriminated against in school, socially I was grateful that Russian schools had chairs, tables, bathrooms, nice teachers (sometimes) and better education than Afghan schools. I had plenty of paper notebooks, books and other school supplies. I felt like I was in a different world which indeed it was a different country. Spending ten years in such conditions, the future for me looked empty because I could not go to college due to my status nor I could leave the country. Then the Turkmen government decided to expel all refugees. Once again a political shift not in our favor ended up as being a miraculous educational opportunity. We were sent to the USA, where we could live a more stable life.

Like ten years before, it was hard for me to adjust to a new language. I could barely speak English, but that did not stop me from going to high school and starting a new phase of my life and education.

My appreciation for education is very deep. I started on the cold floor of an Afghan school with few prospects. War took me to a more advanced but marginalized existence. Fate brought me to America where, in my fifth language, I am completing my bachelor degree and applying to medical school electronically. Every time I enter a classroom, interact with teachers and students I always remember that there are hundreds of students who lack these elementary settings and I was one of them. This bond motivates me to achieve my goal and gives to bring change to needy communities.

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