By Jian Di Liang
Being in the United States for two and a half years, my happiest time was the period studying at the English Center – a non-profit organization that helps new immigrants, refugees, and international students improve English skills and find jobs.
To me, the Center was like a small society. I met people from all over the world and made friends with them. We not only studied about the American culture, but learned from each other as well. We were not afraid to make any grammar mistakes or use any body language because we understood what we were trying to say to each other.
The classes are very intensive and students have 4.5-hour classes per day. Class schedules are flexible in the morning, afternoon and evening. Having classes with the same people every day builds up much more conversant friendships. The teachers are really helpful and patient. We feel comfortable making friends with them, and we go out with them as well. We have class field trips once in a while. If students need help, there is one-on-one tutoring after class.
Since I was new to the country, I did not have any working experiences. The Center introduced me to the Port of Oakland and got me a volunteer opportunity there. The volunteering experience helped me so much later in my career.
I was also an intern for the development department. We organized social activities such as picnics for students, alumni, staff, friends and families. We had so much fun playing games together.
The Center helps students finding jobs successfully. We all moved along after graduating from the English Center, either to work, go to college or do both.
I really appreciate the help from the English Center. I could not be any happier with my opportunity to study there.