English as a Second Language, Positivity as a First

Scholarship Entrant: Marina from Henniker, New Hampshire
Essay Question: If you could earn a living doing what you love most, what would it be, and how would it change the world? Describe the specific goals you would set to make that dream a reality.
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I sit down next to Pierre (name has been changed), a refugee boy from Rwanda, and pick up a book. “Can you read this for me please?”
Pierre looks back at me blankly and raises his eyebrows.
I hand him the book and open it, tracing my finger along the first sentence.
Pierre’s eyes light up. He enthusiastically grabs the book and begins reading. “Ze two girls zhump rope. Zhey are best friends.”
When he is done, I exuberantly check the “Excellent” box on Pierre’s evaluation next to pronunciation and move to comprehension.
After some unsuccessfully complicated questions, I create an easier one, the idea of which the book is centered upon. “Are the girls friends?”
Pierre immediately replies, “No!”
I sigh and shove the evaluation into the folder, my stomach sinking with the feeling of failure. But then I look at Pierre’s beaming face and cannot help but laugh. That is the one form of communication that we both understand.
Working with refugees is my passion. Despite the unthinkable challenges they face, they continually inspire me with their positivity and resilience. I want them to be able to thrive without conflict in their new homes. I am majoring in International Studies as well as studying Arabic and Spanish because my goal is to work with refugees and asylum seekers. Every person deserves the opportunity to live free of persecution and discrimination.

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