By Olga Levin, Russia 

My beloved teachers and my beloved friends: 

I want to thank you for coming to my house today so that we can be together again. I thank each of you for your endless love and respect for me. 

My first English class started in February, 2018. From that day on, I began my acquaintance with you. When I came to your class, I did not know a single letter of the English alphabet. I didn’t know a single word of English. But I saw in your eyes love and a desire to help me, and this gave me a lot of strength. I fell in love with English and can no longer imagine a single day without it. Such changes in me were made only by you, my beloved teachers and international friends! 

Every Monday, Linda taught me to read! Reading magazines, we traveled with her all over the world! It was a really exciting journey. And in real life with her, we will also make a trip to Europe! Then Jan taught me grammar. We discussed English with her many times, and she was always patient and tolerant of my problems. On Tuesday, I always ran to Beth and we read and retold newspapers with other international classmates and did crosswords! When Wednesday morning came, I ran with great desire to the class of our beloved Frann, who gives me every corner of her soul every year. Each class with her always includes a joke, joy, and a lot of conversation. She teaches us starting from the very basics of the English language, and now we already know a lot of idioms. Soon we will have fun learning American youth slang, which will also help us to be adapted to this country. 

Now we are all knee-deep in the sea! And we are like a fish in water in English! 

Olga’s Farewell

But how I loved Thursday morning, when we all got together in our favorite club, International Neighbors, which is already 51 years old! It is a great and important tradition of this city to bring all foreign visitors together and share their stories about their countries. And also thanks to Miyoko for always making us delicious meals on this day! It was a great time that I can never forget. When Friday came, I became a first grade student because our beloved Marianna taught us accuracy in calligraphy. These were wonderful lessons, when we could not only study classical English, but learn a lot about the most important teacher, about God, who also heard my prayers all the time and made it easy to learn a language I didn’t know and a country I didn’t know. Also, Mary’s husband, Gary, was teaching how to drive. 

I love all of you very much, and I cannot imagine that I can no longer be in your classes. But thanks to Covid-19, I will still continue to be with all of you in my favorite class, and we will study online. 

I will always remember this city where the kindest, most tolerant and beautiful people in the world live. I really hope that all of you will have the opportunity be our guests in Tennessee! Thank you all very much! Love you!! 

===

By Puti Ceniza Sapphira, Indonesia

I had been looking for a community to engage with, practice my English with, and that would allow me to meet new people and experience the most of my time living in Houghton, MI. I am grateful that during my volunteer time at the Keweenaw Coop I got introduced to this program by Judy, a friend of Jan’s. Jan sent me a warm greeting and included me in Randall and Jill’s class along with Dr. Pichai, Wathsala and Janaka at their Thursday afternoon conversation class. It has been a wonderful experience for me to have conversations about the various topics we discuss from Elllo.org. I had enjoyed these Zoom classes so much that I kept “longing” to meet my teachers and classmates in person, especially during a nice summer days–how nice if we could meet in person I thought. But due to the pandemic it’s not really an easy option.

Little did I know, after few months in Zoom class, that I was to learn about a sister group called International Neighbors that arranges routine meet-ups for fun outdoor activities. I was really happy last week to finally meet the many people from both organizations during Donna’s picnic day, where I got to know many more people from this multicultural community.

Lovely day at Donna’s where I finally got to meet both of my tutors (Randy and Jill) in real life 😀