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Our ESL kids share their stories

Yesterday was Diversity Day as STHS.  One of the projects I was happy to help with was our ESL Stories. We asked our little group of students from Ukraine, China, Tibet, and Korea, to share their personal stories about coming to America.

While our initial intent was to create opportunities for our ESL students to practice written and spoken fluency, what happened as we presented these stories–most of which were about the decision to come to American–audience changed everything.  Giving the kids a stage resulted in the collateral benefit of empathy and new understanding from the students who have lived their lives in Springfield.

Mainstream Springfield students got to know the quiet ESL kids in their classes through a different lens.

The stories, with their themes of loneliness, fear, and sacrifice, fostered genuine respect for these students’ hardships and struggles.  And for how hard they have to work to catch up.

Joyce Valenza About Joyce Valenza

Joyce is the teacher-librarian at Springfield Township High School, a technology writer, and a blogger. Follow her on Twitter: @joycevalenza


  1. Mariz says:

    The stories of those kids are so touching and inspiring, no matter life will bring us just keep on moving forward don’t ever give up kids!

  2. Wow. I had the honor of working briefly with these kids. They were a ton of fun, friendly but guarded; to be expected considering their circumstances. To hear their openness in these stories is a tribute to Christine (ESL teacher) and Joyce’s work with them. Beautifully done and very moving.

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