by Selcuk Ersoz
Tonight, we are here
to celebrate our graduation from the ESL program, and I, Selcuk
Ersoz, am glad to be here.
Two years ago, when I
was standing in front of the administration office, I had a dream
to be able to speak English fluently at the end of this course.
However, I had no idea about what I was doing. I was standing there
as a stranger, a real stranger. I wondered why everything was so
weird. I mean everything, language, people, buildings, even the
pencils lying on the office desks. I started observing things like
a baby with my curious eyes.
Since I was three weeks
late for the classes, I was immediately taken into a classroom for
my placement test to find out in which level I would enroll. Actually,
I found this unnecessary because I thought I didn't know English
at all. During the test a young man came into the classroom and
asked me if I were taking the placement test and later I found out
that he was Mete. I hesitated for a moment then gave him a short
answer, "Yes." The next thing he asked me was in Turkish.
"Are you Turkish?" he said. I thought he might recognize
me from my beautiful Turkish accent. Probably not! Anyway, I don't
want to talk about the accent anymore. After calculating my score
I was surprisingly in Level 3.
The next day I came to
the campus and rushed into the classroom to meet my new classmates.
They welcomed me in a friendly way. Then we started studying, studying
very hard. The words were flying over my head along with adjectives,
adverbs, phrases and idioms. The room was filled with English even
the gerunds were there squeezing at the corner of the room. Frankly,
I had never heard of the gerunds before. I was afraid. Later my
fear became a desire. I was obsessed with the studies we had done.
Despite long days at work, I was running to classes every night
with a great desire. I was literally running to the classes because
I had no car back then!
Back into the classroom
where our friendships were growing day by day as the subjects advanced
in English. There were tenses we had to learn but one of them was
special to me. The Perfect Tense, which I avoided to learn at the
beginning. It was so perfect maybe even a little too perfect for
me. I was so tense with the perfect tense in this intensive course.
There were other exercises, sophisticated conversations and oral
drills, too. We had to know how to pronounce properly every single
word. There were "th" and "v" sounds, which
were a nightmare for a Turkish student but the explanation from
our teachers was easy:
Teacher: "Roll your
tongue, and stick it between your teeth, turn your head 30 degrees
to the right and blow it."
you." What if I just take my right leg, flip it over my left
shoulder and jump around like that. That is easier, right?
After all, it has been
great. We learned more than English here such as a culture and being
friends. We had good days along with the bad ones. We became a family
and I am delighted to be a part of this international family.
Now I would like to thank
the people starting from the top.
Laura Lyons, thank you
for accepting me into this program and giving me the opportunity
to live in this beautiful country. And of course thanks to her staff,
Debbie, Jackie and Danielle for their endless help.
Our teachers, Marcia
Matrowski, my longest-term teacher. Thank you for supporting me
from the beginning and enforcing me about writing and pronunciation.
Ralph, my last and youngest teacher, thank you, your class has been
fun. And the greatest teacher I have ever had, the greatest person
I have ever met, David Parise. He helped me a lot on and off campus.
He is a loving, caring, unselfish, entertaining person. A million
thanks wouldn't be enough for him! I feel I have an American father
if he accepts me as his son. At the end, my classmates, thank you.
I will never forget you guys. Thank you!