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A Dream Comes True
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."

Student: "Thank 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!


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