The students in this program have come a long way since August. Time seems so relative in these situations–three and half months seems a lot shorter than it really is. To think of everything that has been accomplished in such a short time boggles the mind. It’s easy to see the growth in you–I can see who you are now and who you will become.
You were all aware that your country relies on you to better not just your own future, but Brazil’s future as well, to succeed in learning at a high academic level in a language not native to you, to return as a significant asset to the investment your government has put in you. We sat in a circle on our first day of school and introduced ourselves to each other. You were all unfazed by the enormity of the situation you had just entered. You had just left behind the warm comfort of your beautiful country, walking into the autumn days of Maryland to achieve something great at the prestigious institution of Morgan State University–instead of being intimidated by these circumstances, you embraced them. Look at the friends you have made here, and the support you have built for each other. We grew together. Think about the future connections you have ahead for you. You will continue to grow, and hopefully every positive experience you have here is tailed by more rewards.
This pressure has not overwhelmed any of you, and it is evident that you are all quite capable to progress into your academic studies. In August, when you arrived, each of you took a standardized international English test, the ITEP, where the scores range from 0-6, six being masterful of the language. It catalogued your capacity and comprehension for reading, listening and grammar. The preliminary class average score for the upper intermediate students was 2.83, which by ITEP standards, is elementary English. In just 14 weeks, the class has raised their average from a 2.83 to a 4.63–more than a 61% raise in English proficiency, a clear indication of Advanced English at the Upper-intermediate level. You should all be proud of yourselves.
I’m sure I do not only speak for myself when I say that this has been a great opportunity for everyone here at Morgan State University. I believe that with the correct momentum and continual positive structure, this opportunity can transform the English as a Second Language department into something more permanent, helping to propel Morgan State into even further domain of diversity and prestige. I am honored have been a part of this program, and I would like to thank everyone else that has played a role in this effort.
I would like to thank Dr. Elizabeth Gunn and Ms. Agnes Moon for hiring me, and having faith in me to succeed–I too have grown immensely and could not have done this without you. I would like to thank Dr. Joan Robinson, for putting this program together in the first place, and deliberating her efforts in South America. I would like to thank Qimmah Nadjuleeah for being my counterpart in this operation–you are strong and direct and positive, a whole slew of positive adjective, so thanks for having made this fun. And last, I would like the thank the all of the students here for having the courage to take the steps they are taking. This has been a magnificent experience.