Global Connections ESL tutor helps former GC member launch U.S. citizenship

One of the very first things Dr. Olga Bakayev, dermatologist from Moscow, did when she relocated to State College in May 2019 was to join Global Connections (GC). “When I arrived in State College,” Olga notes, “my English was nowhere near good enough to pass the US Medical Licensing Exams and get certified by the Educational Commission for Foreign-Trained Medical Graduates so that I could practice medicine in the US. Global Connections kept popping up as a good resource for learning and practicing English, so I joined up. I am really glad I did.”

Olga started out in GC President Bob Persiko’s English Language Classes (www.gc-cc.org/programs/english-language-classes/).  She then contacted Wenjie Fu at Penn State’s Global Programs Office to learn about other available resources. Serendipitously, just a few days before that, GC Treasurer Bruce Truitt had offered to serve as a Global Programs Conversation Partner for Russian (and Spanish) speakers. Wenjie connected Olga and Bruce, and after an initial meeting on June 24, 2019, they began weekly sessions focusing on English grammar, usage, and conversation and on various aspects of the American experience. 

“I am thankful to Bruce for illuminating the similarities between English and Russian grammar. His insights helped me establish a strong foundation in the new language. I truly appreciate his patient and nonjudgmental approach, which enabled me to overcome the fear of speaking English so common among beginners,” Olga noted. 

Olga also feels that “The process of integrating a new member into American society is often undervalued. Even if one has a good grasp of English, cultural differences and social barriers can still pose significant challenges to this integration. This is why I am so glad that Bruce not only taught me English but also helped me learn important things about US society, culture, politics, geography, the arts, and so on. We have worked together steadily over the last 3.5 years, even though I relocated to Brooklyn. And our regular meetings definitely helped me pass the first of the three Medical Licensing Tests I must conquer.”

Olga recently surmounted another critical hurdle – she passed her U.S. Citizenship Test. “I am elated and proud to be an American. I could not have done it without Bruce’s expert assistance or the support of Global Connections. Thanks so much!”

Women’s History Month

Women’s History Month is an annual celebration of achievements by women throughout the history. We honor countless women, who have bravely and tenaciously fought for equality, justice, and opportunity throughout the country. If you want to learn more about this importance observance, please check the following link: https://womenshistorymonth.gov/

Make your donation to Global Connections through Centre Foundation Fund Advisor Portal

From now on, it is easier to make donations to help Global Connections keep their good work. Thanks to the new Centre Foundation Fund Advisor Portal, anyone can make a donation directly into the Global Connections Fund at the Centre Foundation at any time.

Each dollar donated to Global Connections is used to strengthen the cultural fabric of our diverse community through partnerships, service, education, and advocacy. This is accomplished by extending assistance to internationals and offering programs and events that enable intercultural learning and sharing for both internationals and local residents.

Please donate through the following link: Centre Gives or in the QR code in the image.

English Language Resource List

We are pleased to share with you a resource list on Google Docs that we have compiled for those interested in English language learning. The list includes various helpful resources and contacts that we believe will be useful for learners of all levels.

Please find below the link to access the resource list: https://rb.gy/zzlj1a or scan the QR code in the picture.

International Poetry Night

Global Connections will be holding an International Poetry Night at Webster’s Bookstore Café. Everyone is welcome to step up and to share a favorite poem from a favorite poet in their own language and its English translation, or to share one of their own poems. Are you a poet? We’d love to hear which poets inspired you. But, if you prefer only to listen to others recite, you are also welcome to attend this inspiring event and enjoy a cultural night.

When: Thursday, March 23, at 7:00 PM.
Where: Webster’s Bookstore Café on 133 Beaver Ave, State College, PA 16801.
Cost: FREE and open to the public. Donations will be welcome.

Here is the link to register for the event: https://globalconnections.wildapricot.org/event-5162387

If someone wants to be a presenter at the event, please also register here: Registration for PRESENTERS

WE STAND IN SOLIDARITY WITH TÜRKIYE & SYRIA

We in Global Connections want to express our solidarity with the people of Türkiye and Syria affected by the terrible earthquakes that have caused an unimaginable loss of lives and suffering, along with widespread destruction. We encourage all who can to make a contribution to rescue and recovery services. Our heartfelt sympathies go out to members of our community who have relatives and friends in the region.

Discussion Group Members decide to have in-person Meetings once a Month

The Global Connections (GC) discussion group members decided that it would be great to have an in-person session once a month. Their first in person meeting happened on December 20th. It was a joyful celebration. The GC president, Bob Persiko, submited a request for a room at the Municipal Building for the last Tuesday of the months of January through April. On Tuesday, Jan 24th, they met in person in room 241. It was an informal moment when the group could share thoughts and writings. 

Global Connections Profile: meet the Lucky and Brave Baktygul Issabekova

Do you know anyone who has won the United States Diversity Visa (Green Card) lottery? If your answer is “No,” Global Connections has a surprise for you. Allow us to introduce a very lucky woman, Baktygul Issabekova. But, besides being lucky, she is also remarkably strong, smart and brave. She is a Global Connections member from far-off Astana, Kazakhstan’s capital where she worked as a sales manager. 

Baktygul moved to the USA almost three years ago with her husband Darkhan and two beautiful daughters, Darina (14) and Yasmina (8). They chose State College because her husband, an architect, was hired by a firm in the area.

“My first impressions of America were great. I really loved New York City, but America is not only New York, right? The easiest part of moving was making friends with other Kazakh and Russian (her second language) speakers who live here. The hardest part was facing COVID 19 just a few months after we arrived.”

While Baktygul loves living in the US with her husband and children, she does get really homesick at times. “I miss my mom, my dad and my sisters, my other relatives and friends.” She also misses the food and the restaurants in Kazakhstan and the physical and natural beauty of her homeland. “The Kazakh mountains are true works of beauty,” she says.

Baktygul recalls that she heard about the possibility of getting a Green Card from a friend. “My husband really wanted to move to the USA. I just filled out the form and forgot about it. I didn’t even hope for success. Now that I know how difficult this Lottery is, I understand that I’m really lucky.”

Baktygul has been a valued member of Global Connections for almost one year. She met the organization after an invitation from her Brazilian friend, Sabrina Lima, Global Connections’ outgoing Public Relations Officer. She tells how GC is helping her. “I met my great tutor Bruce Truitt, who helps me to learn English on a charitable basis. Also, I met a lot of other international citizens.” She says that her favorite things about GC are the in-person thematic meetings and the opportunity to experience a little bit of how other people from around the world live. “Walking in another person’s shoes is one of the biggest favors you can do for yourself.” 

She plans to keep studying English even harder, make new friends in America and build a career for herself. With all her luck and courage, she will certainly succeed. Fly high, Baktygul!

Know the elected Global Connections’ officers

Robert (Bob) Persiko was re-elected Global Connections’ president at the November 9 general membership meeting. This is Bob’s third term as president. 

Anna Borisova de Valdez was chosen to be the new secretary. Marco Damasceno is the new public relations officer. Kieran Holland will remains the vice-president, and Bruce Truitt will continue as treasurer. All the elected are volunteers. 

During the meeting, the members also approved changes in the Global Connections bylaws.

English Teachers Needed

Global Connections currently offers one weekly English class, conducted virtually, whose members are at the intermediate-to-advanced level. We might offer a more basic English class if we have a teacher and sufficient students to justify the offering. The target audience would likely be immigrants whose children are taking ESL classes in school. The other possibility is one-on-one tutoring in English. We already have a couple of GC members who are serving as tutors in this way. Having a “stable” of teachers who feel capable and are willing to engage in this way would enable us to respond to requests from public institutions. If you are interested, please contact Deb Leo, [email protected].