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Essay Contest Results (8th Annual, 2013)

"Be the change you want to see in the world"---Gandhi

Thank you to all the teachers and students who participated in our NYS TESOL Annual Essay Contest! We received a wonderful collection of essays from students across the state! Below is an accounting of the number of submissions we received in each category.

We at NYS TESOL would like to recognize all the teachers who participated and all the schools they represent by listing them here. Your dedication to your students is evident to us and we applaud the efforts of your students. You are all winners to us!



Grades 6


Aden Yakub
Grade level: 6
Teacher: Elena Zelfond, ESL teacher, International school # 45, Buffalo, NY

Violence has always existed in our world. Throughout history, there have been agents of change such as Mahatma Gandhi who fought against violence and inequality in peaceful ways such as marches and fasting. He collaborated with his proponents, and he encouraged tolerance and mutual understanding. Following Gandhi's example, I want to be an agent of change. Violence is a major problem in the world, and people need to solve it peacefully. There are a lot of types of violence such as killing, robbing, and kidnapping that take place in homes, streets, and near schools.

There are many ways to prevent violence. One way is to teach children and adults to understand each other more. People can start being friends and caring about each other no matter what race and religion they are. Specifically, I can collaborate with my classmates to create posters demonstrating how different people can be friends. We would put the posters in many places in our community. This way, many people would see them and learn from them. The second idea would be to write letters to convince the mayor to start gun control. The mayor could buy guns from people. If the mayor started gun control, there would be fewer people shooting each other. I could also encourage my peers to write to the President about gun control. In conclusion, violence is a major problem in our world, and we need to collaborate to prevent it peacefully. Mayors and presidents in the world need to make gun control to stop violence. People can make posters in their communities to prevent violence. So be an agent of the world!

Honorable Mention
Jesed Barragan
Robert C. Dodson School
Teacher: Ms. Joseph
Grade 5

In this world people litter all over the streets because they don't respect the environment. Just imagine all the streets without garbage! Wouldn't that be cool? Some people say it's impossible, but what do you think? One change that I would make to the world is to not litter. It's not impossible if we work together, and I know that it is not impossible because in my old neighborhood everything was neat and quiet and other neighborhoods about 10 blocks away from my apartment aren't very neat because there is more garbage on the street. There is also another problem, in some places there is more garbage cans than other places and that's bad because, what do people do when they don't see garbage can near? Well, their reaction is to throw garbage on the streets and of course I know that I don't do that because I carry a bag with me every time I'm out of the house. Although this is a big world and the streets aren't very clean, we can still help. We can help by starting with something small and then transform it big. We could gather small groups of people to clean and that group could tell other people, those persons could tell others and so on. Then this wouldn't be just a small group anymore. In conclusion, remember it's never too late to do the right thing and this is only one change I would like to make because I've got a lot of ideas and I definitely want to change the world into a better and cleaner place.

Grades 10

Crystal Lee
Grade 10

To be an agent of change in the world, I can start using less technology and interacting with people. Lately, this world works with all kinds of machines and robots to satisfy people's endless greed. As technology develops, we can live a better and easier life. For example, we don't have to meet up with people anymore to talk because we can just text them with our I-phones. Also, we don't have to ask around about stuff we are curious about because we can get the answer right away when we search for it on our computers or our I-phones. But, as we get used to this comfort, we lose our laugh, we do not feel this feeling of warmth or attachment from other humanity. If we think about this for a moment, our happy conversation at a dinner table disappears over talking from the TV. The joy we get from seeing our friends got ousted over meaningless text messages. We are becoming more efficient, but we are actually forgetting what is actually important and needed like respect and considering other people's feeling. So, I like to say, more use of technology increases most of the worldwide problems like bullying and suicide or more possibilities of crimes. People look at their phones instead of looking at each other's faces and giving smiles which shows that now we are caring less about people and more about technology. The instances of the results of using developed technology can be easily shown around teenagers. For example, it is really much easier to talk bad about other people on the internet because we don't have to show ourselves and we don't think over about how people can feel. And that is why cyber-bullying is becoming a huge worldwide problem and also raising the rate of suicide. It is now hard to find teenagers talking to their friends and having fun because now what they do is text or check on their personal webpage, which can damage our own privacy and cause a lot of troubles. So, now they talk less, cause a lot of misunderstandings, and criticize each other. All kinds of problems come from selfishness and indifference and these are now increasing. So, what I like to say is, people can just put down their phones, look around and try to talk and solve problem through conversation. Talking face to face might lead us to consider each other's feeling, and might give us better solutions to the problems that we are struggling with. Technology can give us convenience and comfort, but it can take away the things that we really have to value, like people, friends, love and energy we get from them. So, why don't we all just take the hands off of the phones, go outside, walk around and give smiles to people we see to take back what we really need now. We can all become agents of change in the world by making a small change in ourselves.

Grades 10

Honorable Mention
Christina Lee
Jericho Senior High School

A Simple Smile

I can, you can and together we can change the world and people's hearts with one free and simple gesture -- a smile! Based on my experiences, a smile is the best thing that can change other people's actions and also their hearts toward acceptance and respect. Sharing a smile can be a casual gesture, but also a very powerful gift when someone is having a hard time or feeling blue. Like catching a cold, spreading a smile can virally infect others around the world. It is easy to do, since it is so contagious. Let's pretend someone smiled to you, what did you do? I am pretty sure that you smiled right back without even thinking about it. You probably did not notice what you did. It just happened naturally. At that moment, you and the other person immediately respected and understood each other with a smile. More specifically, sharing a smile is healthy and also wealthy. It cannot be priced since a smile can spread endorphins all over our bodies and even change people's situations in life. If you feel good, you also have a smile on your face and join in changing the world and spreading happy faces to other people without making a plan or signing a contract. It is an automatic change for a better world. One simple smile at a time can replace intolerance, singularity and disrespect with trust and consideration.

Grades 10

Honorable Mention
Duyen Nguyen
Olympia High School

Gandhi once said,"Be the change you want to see in the world." This statement reveals to me that I should not sit there and wait for the world to change. Instead, I should do something and make it happen by collaborating with other people to change the world the way that will bring a benefit to everyone. Indeed, I would become a agent of change in the world. However, one person will not be able to change the world. Thus, I need to encourage others to collaborate with me in this huge process and ameliorate our lives in a better place. I would give a speech about the negative way if we do not work together to change the world and the positive way if we do. On the negative side, if we are ignoring the world, it will stay the way it is and not change. On the positive side, we can make the world different, a better place, peaceful and world harmony. In addition, we could create an international law and rules. Conversely, it will be hard because national customs are different; nevertheless, we should give a try to do it. One way is to threaten the nations where there are no tolerances that we will support anti-government regime movements. By expanding on social education to study about freedom, dictatorship and results, we can find the evidence that intolerance causes bloody civil war. For instance, like in Syria today, the government uses force to kill protestors causing a bloody civil war and killing civilians. We should create a world where people are welcome to live the way and style they want as long as they do not harm anyone. Moreover, there are proliferate children and adults in this world facing hunger and starvation. In accordance, we would create an international donation supply to help these people. By assisting the government, we can help create less starvation. We would improve the living standard where everyone has a house, welfare, and medicine when needed. Furthermore, we would spread our words and actions to engage everybody around the world to stop bullying and say no to drugs. Lastly, we need to support education in order to make people understand and be aware of drugs. Overall, I wish, I hope and I pray for the world to change into a better world where living standards, tranquility and tolerance take place. In other words, together we can build up a better world.


So Mee Shin
Nassau Community College
Instrutor: Cara Tuzzolino-Werben

Before Gandhi, the world did not believe that a non-violent movement could bring positive change. However, Gandhi changed the world by excluded violence. This influenced and fascinated people, and they started to join his cause. Gandhi's concept of non-violence became so influential that it was crucial in the success of the Civil Rights Movement in the United States, on a different continent. Like Gandhi, I will bring about change on a personal level first in order to change the world.

I was very bad at math in middle school. I had several math tutors, but they couldn't help me much. However, one tutor was able to change and help me. With her, I could understand problems which I thought impossible. She was also not good at studying when she was at my age. One day, she realized that she needed to change to achieve her dream of becoming a doctor. She studied hard, and finally she succeeded in changing herself. Her grade became all A, and her teachers wrote positive words on her recommendation for college. Because she had changed herself, she inspired and enabled me to do the same.

To be fair, one person can't change the world alone, even Gandhi. He changed the world because he started a movement by inspiring other to follow him. I'm not looking to be Gandhi, but I believe that if I create positive change in myself, I can inspire many others to do the same, creating a positive movement that can change the world.


Honorable Mention

Pariksha Rajbhandari
ASA College

The Power of a Smile

Who doesn't love to live in a place that is devoid of hatred? Imagine a place full of love, happiness, and smiles. Wouldn't that be wonderful? However; the reality is that the world is entangled with hatred, jealousy, and violence. It is so because people emphasize differences, and simply overlook similarities. Changing all the people in the world most would think would require a lot of money and power. But wait, isn't money and power the root to all the hatred and violence? I believe changes can be accomplished only if we stop over thinking, and go back to the basics. Little gesture like smile has a power to touch millions of hearts, and create a better world for all of us. Therefore; I would like to teach the power of smile. A smile, I have realized, is a powerful tool; a tool that costs us nothing, that can be used to foster positive changes, and to create a world full of love. The power of a smile has been overlooked. And, I want people to understand the power of this amazing tool. A smile is contagious, and has no language. A warm smile can touch hearts, cross boundaries, and create strong bonds. Let us smile at each other, see the similarities we share, and help out those in need. This small gesture can ensure the world that is empathetic of one another bringing about tolerance, collaboration required to create a better world.