Let College Be Your Next Step

20 Jul 2010 by Fausto Sicha, No Comments »

By: Fausto Sicha

Speech delivered at BOCES on the summer of 2008

Nyack, New York

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          The memories of the darkest day in my life cannot be erased from my mind. It was on March 24, 2001 that I was forced to leave Ecuador. It was on this day that I witnessed my family fall apart. First, my two nephews who were four and six years old were ordered to walk away from me and their mother who is my oldest sister. Then, a sad woman with tears rolling down her cheeks approached me, and without a single word her shaking hand managed to express her religious belief by doing the sign of the cross over my chest. Knowing that destiny was separating us, I nodded in sign of accepting her farewell.

          Unable to understand this tragedy I directed my head to the sky, and my eyes witnessed that the flag that protected me for over twenty years flew with complete liberty. Then for the last time I looked toward my mother, but she was gone. I watched the time, and it was 3:20pm. Not long after that, my sister and I left the country.

           Arriving to the U.S. was as hard as seeing my family fall apart. This country was foreign to us. English was unknown to us. We had no place to live. We had no food to eat. And we had no friends to speak with, so we had no choice, but had to begin from zero again.

           The painful memories of leaving her two children did not allow my sister to concentrate on anything else other than her work, but I managed to accommodate the schedule of my five jobs that I had at that time and began taking English classes here at night.

           In this school I did not only learn something new in every class, but I also found great professors. And I found people that were willing to help me. One night I told my classmates about my plans of going to college, and they without a single word approved my plan. In their eyes I saw that they believed in me. In their lips I read, go Fausto go. Before I left, my professor whose name is Josephine said, “Come back to visit us.” That night I promised that I would come back, and today four years later, I am here with a college degree in my hands.

           I must admit that when English is our second language things in college can be challenging. To compete with someone who grew up in this country, with someone who went to school here, and with someone who is familiar with American culture is not an easy task. But that must not deter you from trying. The challenges that you will find beyond this school must not stop you. And if your plan is to go to college one day, be assured that it is possible to get there.

           I went to college not because I had money, but because I would not like to witness my children leaving the country as my mother did. I believe that education is capable of improving our economic status. I went to school not because my English was good enough to be a college student, but because I believe that education will give us more and better opportunities. I went to college not because it was easy, but because I was determined to overcome that challenge. And I went to college because one day I will go back to the place where I came from, to lead my people to a better future.

           My friends, I know that to combine school and work is not easy, but it can be done. I know that to learn a new language is challenging, but it is not impossible. I know that after a long day of work our bodies needs to rest, but if we learn English now, tomorrow we will see that the advantage of knowing two languages is greater than the pleasure that we can give to our body today.

           Four years ago, I felt that education would allow me to be as free as the flag that I witnessed flying with complete liberty in my country. Four years ago, I decided to concentrate on myself, but today I know that alone I will not achieve great things. Today I know that without education we will not go far, therefore I came here to say, my friends, let college be your next step.

           I know that to overcome the challenges that lie ahead of us is not easy, but when you have a vision, when you have a goal, when in your mind you know where you want to go, you will get there. The challenges are there, and they will be there forever, but the mind doesn’t see that, the mind doesn’t feel that, and the mind of a determined man can’t be reversed. The eyes can contemplate the challenges and the obstacles, but a man shapes his life, not from what he sees, but from what he believes.

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