Master Teaching

a blog for teachers who follow the Master Teacher

Hopes and Dreams


by Patrick Seifer

As an ESL teacher, I find great delight in teaching people from all over the world. I learn so much every week about different places and cultures. Today, I taught English to Filipino nurses. I also taught two men from Kenya yesterday, and I commonly work with people from Nepal, India, the Caribbean, and many other places around the globe. What I wish my American friends knew about the people I teach is their desire to live and work in the United States and the journey my students take to live here.

From 2020 to early 2022, I taught English to immigrants. I worked at an English language center in Orlando, FL and then worked for a short time for a community language program in Central Florida. Working for these companies was an eye-opening experience for me. In the language center, I worked with affluent people who could choose to leave their country and immigrate to our country. Many of these people were college educated and had professions in their home countries. As I got to know these students (I saw some of them 18 hours a week), I had natural opportunities to ask them why they chose to come to the U.S. Their stories seldom changed—they wanted a better life and were willing to move their families from the comforts of their country and culture to live in another. They told me about how their countries were failing and full of violence and how it was no longer a safe place to bring up children. However, their stories almost always ended with the same theme: The U.S. is a great place to live and a land of great opportunity.

As eye-opening as my time in the language center was, my time working for the community language program was even more heart-wrenching. I was teaching people who came from countries that were devastated by crime and corruption. Many of these immigrants left incredibly dangerous situations and did not have much education. Some are in the U.S. under protective asylum. Their stories of suffering to come here still bring tears to my eyes. One night before class, a young woman looked particularly sad, so I asked her how she was doing. She did her best to smile, and we started some polite small talk. The brief conversation turned to family members, and I asked if she was living with her parents. She told me, “No, teacher. My dad was killed by gangsters in my home country. That is why I am here.”

The last group of students I taught at the community language program was a great group of young guys. They wanted to tell me of their years-long journey to the United States. They also told me stories of prejudice and racism that were difficult to listen to, but they emphasized how they loved living in the U.S. Their desire for English was insatiable because they were looking to start a new life for their young families. They told me of their hopes and desires to get more education after they finished the English program so they could get better paying jobs, provide for their families, and become American citizens.

I wish my American friends knew that the people I teach are like them. They have hopes, dreams, and desires for their families and children to do well, and they look forward to achieving these dreams. Thanks for letting me tell you about my students.

Further exploration

What’s your perspective?

We welcome your comments on any of the ideas in this post or in answer to the questions below.

  • How do Patrick’s interactions with his students mirror your own?
  • How are they different?
  • What would you like people in your circles to know about your students?

Post Author

Patrick Seifer taught in China from 1990 until 2019. He currently lives in Florida in the United States. He has a bachelor’s degree in French and English. He received his MA in TESOL from Azusa Pacific University in 2002. He has taught ESL to adult immigrants in the Orlando area and now works at Avant Healthcare Professionals helping international nurses pass IELTS and TOEFL English exams so they can work in hospitals in the USA.

Photo by Monstera.

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