By Geisha Torres (Venezuela)
When I came to the United States from Venezuela in October of 2009, to cover the playoffs for the Major Baseball League, I couldn’t even imagine that I was going to meet so many special people spanning some 20 different countries. Thanks to Beto Villa, the New York Yankees Spanish announcer, I was able to have this wonderful experience.
He told me that he used to be a volunteer teacher at the International Center and he wanted me to go there to improve my English and get to know people from different cultures. At first I told him that I didn’t need to go to a school, but after thinking it over, I said to myself, “Why not? Let’s give it a try.”
Yes, you always need to say “Why not?” and try something new in your life, like I did. And now I am proud to be a member of the International Center.
First of all, it is the right place to meet new people. I was able to share my experiences with everyone there and learn from others as well regardless of the issues of color or religion. The important aspect was learning and sharing, and most of all, I was able to improve my English skills.
I joined the Center in October 2010, and my first class was with the funniest teacher in the world – Joe Lamb. I really enjoyed his class. The Vocabulary in Use with Lori Buck was so good; Cultural Traditions with Luise Palace was great, because I could tell everyone in the Center about my beautiful country. I also had classes with an Italian designer teacher on Saturdays; Exploring English Through Music was a good part of my routine and I was able to take many things away from it; Talking about America with John Donal Quinn and learning the history of this country was so interesting. I was excited because everyday I was meeting new people with diverse backgrounds.
My best friend is Noelia Roman. She is from Spain, but at the beginning I thought she was from Brazil. I met her in the class Tips for Success at Work with Ann Collins. We were working on the same team with guys from Senegal and Japan and, of course, we were speaking English. The next day I met her and other new friends – Flora Pouette from France and Ran Lee from Korea – in another class. We met David Ross, who is teaching the class Working in the USA, and all the students enjoyed his class and company a lot. Everyday I was able to meet new friends and this could possibly have been the best aspect of my experience here. Yes, English is a universal language; now I understand this phrase very well.
By the way, I am a sports journalist. So I went to Madison Square Garden to cover a New York Knicks game, where I accidentally met my “Brazilian friend.” We were speaking English, but I had checked her professional media credentials before, so I said to her, “Diario Público, Spain.” After a week, I learned that she was from Barcelona, Spain. So, the “Brazilian” turned out to be a Spaniard. She introduced me to Curro and Patricia, a couple from Spain. They were very good friends, and we are still in touch. I got the opportunity to meet Miguel Angel, a guitar player, Alba, “the miner” from Valencia, Elena from Madrid and Nacho, a fireman from Menorca.
I would like to thank the International Center in New York. I know for sure now that I have best friends forever and that distance doesn’t matter. I know that Darius Levy is always going to be my friend from Uruguay as well as Carlos Luna and Ambrosio from Mexico; Elena from Russia, Veronika, Inna, Galina, and Pasha from Ukraine; Giorgi, an actor from Georgia, Leonel, my salsa dance partner, not tango one, from Argentina; Yao Wing, my favorite friend from China, Alex Martinez from Dominican Republic; Katherine from Colombia; Gabriela from Ecuador; Jaru, a male model and my countryman from Venezuela; Florine from France, Ahmed from Egypt, and Mohamed from Morocco.
As you may see, at the International Center we have many friends of different colors from different countries, but we speak the same language – English.