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Essay Contest Results (9th Annual, 2014)

"A good head and good heart are always a formidable combination. But when you add to that a literate tongue or pen, then you have something very special." --Nelson Mandela (1918-2013)

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 4-5


Shanzeyh Hussain
Grade 5
Teacher: Mrs. Abate
Watervliet Elementary School
Watervliet, NY

In my community there are various amounts of adults that do not speak English fluently. Because of this, they are not able to communicate with other people such as teachers, neighbors, and cashiers. I could arrange classes in the public library in the afternoon. I would need to find volunteers to help a group of adults. Volunteers would help by teaching reading, writing, and speaking. To inform parents about the classes I could send flyers home with children from school. Also I could send a survey home with children so that I could find out what language they speak. If it was successful, it would help them be independent and able to communicate with other people. Also it would help them by giving them more confidence. Maybe they could get a job. It would also help because they would be bilingual. This program would be very helpful to adults that do not speak English. And I would feel proud because I made a difference in my community.

Honorable Mention
Camilo Suescun
Grade 5
Teacher: Ms. Cunnane
Caroline G. Atkinson School
Freeport, NY

In my opinion bullying is the main problem in my community. In my opinion people bully others because it lets them get that anger out that most of the feel because of someone else. Other reasons for kids and teenagers bullying is because they get in trouble with their parents and then they can't do the things they like to do like watch television or play video games. So they get angry and bully others, and that calms them and makes them feel superior. A solution for this problem is to give the Bullies and the bullied people a chance to be with a psychologist so they can tell them their situation and solve the problem. One example of bullying is the time I first came to this country, some kids close to where I live would call me immigrant because I would barely speak English, so I slowly learned English and now when they say it just doesn't make sense. In conclusion, bullying or being bullied can be one of the main problems in your community, your house, or school, but you have got to control it or make it stop by telling an adult, it is your choice.

Grades 6-8

Winston Jiang
Grade 6
Teacher: Mrs. Conner
Jennie F. Snapp Middle School
Endicott, NY 13760

Do you want to live in a world that is polluted? I think that people ages 5-100 can recycle, which could help people and nature. Recycling should be part of everyday life. Protecting the environment will make a healthier world. First, recycling could help the environment from being destroyed, by saving trees from being cut down and can cause less pollution in the air from the machines. Also, a tree can make a lot of oxygen in its whole life time. The machines create carbon monoxide, which is not healthy for the animals that help plants grow. Second, recycling can make old metal into new products and we don't have to re-mine new metals. Recycling can save a lot of land from becoming a dump. So, it can make contaminated waters from wells less of a threat because there are fewer dumps to poison the well water. In America today there are as many as 50,000 dumps that contain toxic waste. Recycling conserves raw materials and energy needed to make new products. For example, they could turn wasted glass into a window. In addition, plastic can be melted and molded into new water bottles. Choosing products made from recycled materials is a fantastic option. Most paper products are biodegradable. To conclude, people of all ages should recycle and it should be everybody's business. It could save money, land, and prevent nature from being destroyed. People must recycle or else the Earth will be covered in garbage!

Grades 9-12

Hyein Kim
Teacher: Mr. Lee
Benjamin N. Cardozo High School
New York, NY

Great Leader Ship

In the world, there are so many people who live succeed lives in different ways. But there is one common thing that is they know how to lead people. The combination of knowledges and full of understandings of others is key point to be a good leader. But everybody doesn't think in same way. That's why people have to communicate with others. And if add here knowing how to speak and write well, then they will get people who support them. Their hands and mouth are going to make them specially. When I was young about 9 or 10 years old, my parents bought a lot of books for me because of I liked to reading a book. But that was not the only reason, they wanted me to know how to think and transmit my idea to others. They said, "The most important thing is knowing how to communicate with others who think differently with you." They hoped me to get that idea from reading books. They also said, "You have to know how to speak up your ideas. There is no meaning when you have knowledge but you don't say it." I didn't know what it really means but now, I agree with them. So I am trying to remember this all the time. That is why I try to express. Of course the good head and good heart are important but if you don't show what you think, people don't know what kind of person you are. I really agree with this idea of pen and tongue that's why I want to become a person who writes a book. I believe that the thing that make the world move is a word. In the future, I will write a book which will desire and inspire people. The world is really huge and in the world, there are so many different types of people living together. But there are some people who has good knowledge, good mind and also good tongue lead people gather people to make one community. That is the how world goes round. By the pen and tongue.

Grades 9-12

Honorable Mention
Pamela Rodriguez

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

Hi I am Pamela Rodriguez. I am fourteen years old and I go to Humanities three. Today I am here to talk about all types of bullying.Throughout this essay I will be explaining on how and why I want to fix this issue. To me,this issue is very important because I myself have been a victim of bullying. Bullying has been going on for years before and after I was born. Bullying usually takes place in schools all over the world, but nowadays its on the computer (cyberbullying). Cyberbullying is the same as bullying but just the fact that its on the internet.I personally do not think that people are going to stop bullying right from the back but I think that once I get the word out people would less bully others like before. This issue has lead to suicide and less confidence in people. For example, on ABC News it stated that Amanda Todd fifteen at the time died on October 10,2012. She committed suicide by hanging herself, drinking bleach, and even cutting herself. All the bullying took place at school and on the computer.

I myself have been bullied (not cyberbullied) and thought of suicide but between all these thoughts there is always that one person who will always be there for you from the start. This is has inspired me by giving me life events and evidence. It has inspired me to improve it by giving me life obstacles to face with this issue. I have so many solutions to this issue but out of all of them I managed to get the top three solutions. The first solution is to have a small gathering and get people's ideas on what they think of this issue. I will do this by hanging posters in hallways and emailing them. Have a date and time and some snacks. With all the information gathered I will take into action. For example, if one says "the teachers don't really pay mind" then I and an adult will go and talk to the teachers and principal. The second solution would be to have an anti bullying day. This day could have some singer, activities, food and giveaways. This would get people to be part of it and even have fun while helping people improve. The last solution would be to teach adults and teens at school how to respond to when they see bullying. For example, if a student is getting bullied the teachers or anyone else around should react to it in a civil way. They should not go for backup or do something crazy but help that person.

In conclusion, I feel that bullying is a big issue. These solutions can help bullying improve and help bullies see why bullying is not helpful for them. Also it can make your community a safe environment to live in. You won't have to worry about going to the grocery store and getting bullied.

Grade 12

Omar Hernandez Alvarez, Grade 12
Riverhead High School

Three years ago, when the noises from outside were from roosters or other birds, when I felt smart because I could understand, it was a different time now everything is different, all I hear outside are cars. Florida is a nice place for rich people, I remember everyone going to the beach and night clubs, everyone except me, I use to stay in garage which was my room, well almost my room I had to share it with Tripas he was a nice old guy but he was very dirty and I had to clean his mess every day perhaps it was natural as he was a mechanic and the reason we called him Tripas was because he is fat. He used to drive me to school because it was very far from the garage. That's why I never said anything, sometimes we worked together doing things as painting, construction, landscaping and many other activities I remember the time that we were demolishing an old house by the river, and it fell with us on the top. I had time to run to the other side of the house, which was preserved but my uncle and Tripas didn't move. They remained crouched to the house, praying. Then the house went to the water but we didn't. Maybe their prayers were answered. My life hasn't being easy, all this year I've been working hard after school, day to day the same thing but it is for success not only for me, but for the success of all Latin immigrants who just came here as European immigrants did in some time of American history. Now we are in their shoes and our hearts beat as theirs did for the great dream of success. This society needs good heads to be successful, and I want to be part of the solution, not part of the problem, as some people think that we are. I want my people to have their dream realized, as Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela did for their people. This is something that my heart says and my head knows it! Am aware that I have many challenges that may make me collapse like the old house. But if I could clean up after Tripas's mess I know I could persevere and one day be especial.

University & Adult

Sybille Bertrand
Reading 030 F1

The Possibility to Improve a Situation

Everybody likes his/her community. Since I am in the United States of America, I visited my country, Haiti several times. But, one of those times I have been in a little city named "Fonfred" located in the South department; it is more like a village. I spent a couple of weeks in that community with some friends. The people were very friendly and hospitable, but they faced some problems. The big one was a health condition. When I came back to the United States of America, I thought I could take some wonderful actions to improve that problem, such as building a health clinic for the population of that community, and prepare a place to educate them about how to prevent diseases.From the very first moment I was in that community, I noticed the health problem. The population did not know much about the precautions to take for their health in order to prevent diseases; such as washing hands and keeping their places clean. For example, a fourteen years old girl didn't wash her hands after she finished using the bathroom. I was thinking, if that young girl didn't know the importance to wash her hands, she could not teach a younger child to do it. Another example, I witnessed a ten years old boy dropped an orange peel on the floor after he finished eating that orange. Also adults and children drank non-purified water; they didn't care about germs. As a consequence, adults and children got sick because of germs and microbes; they got infections; little kids got diarrhea. To get treatment, their families went with them to another city which was far from their home to reach a hospital. Therefore, when I came back I gave serious thought to the whole situation. I wrote down some ideas which I could combine with actions in order to help those people in the community of "Fonfred". My plan to improve that situation would be to build a health clinic for the population. The building would be located in the center of the village of "Fonfred" in order to facilitate people all around the village and near the village to get access to it. The building would have two floors. The first floor would have three consultation rooms and two rooms for medical tests. Those rooms will be well equipped with updated machines for the consultation and tests. The first floor would have also a pharmacy that would contain all emergency medications and pills and over counter medications. It would also have a laboratory room to execute the medical tests. That clinic would require two doctors, four nurses and an administration to serve the population in that community in order to fulfill their needs. It will have also a staff for the cleaning of the building as well. In addition, there would be an education plan for the population of the village "Fonfred" to teach them how to prevent diseases. The educational place would be at the same building, but it would be located on the second floor. It would be a big room, equipped with technology supplies; such as, computers, a big screen for video projection, and a big television. It would have the capacity to accommodate more than sixty people. The education session will be in three times: morning, evening and night. Some Doctors, Nurses and Nutritionists who have knowledge about health would teach the population how to prevent diseases during those sessions. They would teach them the importance of washing their hands and how to wash them. They would also teach them how to manage a healthy diet by eating right. They would teach them how to avoid infections due to germs and microbes. They would explain to them the importance of washing their fruits and vegetables properly before eating them, and the importance of washing their hands after using the bathroom and before eating and how to wash them properly. They would teach them how to purify water before drinking it and the importance to live in a clean place. Moreover, they would do some seminars on how to protect themselves against sexual transmitted diseases (STD). In conclusion, this medical clinic and the sessions of education would be very beneficial for the population in the community of "Fonfred" because those people really need it. With that opportunity, sick people would not have to go far from their home to get treated, and also they would be educated about how to stay healthy. Doctors, Nurses, Nutritionists and medications would help them to recover their health, and the health program would teach them how to prevent diseases. All of that would be very helpful for them. Therefore, if some nongovernmental organizations who care enough for the population of the community of "Fonfred" could help also to realize that project, it would be like heaven coming down to the earth for them.

Honorable Mention
Tiemoko Soumahoro
Mid-Manhattan Adult Learning Center
Instructor: Ms. Alexander

A Disaster Called Forced Marriage

Marriage is one of the most important things in our life. It is a sacred act that unites two partners who decide freely to join their lives. However in many communities, including mine, forced marriage is still widely practiced. This social evil, which consequences are multiple and various, profoundly affects our societies. Widely practiced in African societies, forced marriage affects both women and men, but women are more subject to this tradition. Forced marriage victims are generally subject to many troubles such as affective disorders. People who have been forced to get married with partners they don't like are constantly anxious, sad and depressed. These bad feelings lead easily to suicide. The children from forced marriage may also experience emotional troubles in their future life. These children often become thugs. Moreover women of forced marriage often experience domestic violence. Indeed, a wife who will refuse to comply with the will of the husband chosen for her will have to undergo physical or psychological violence from her husband and sometimes from her own parents. I still remember the case of one of my cousins, Massandje who was hospitalized two times after being beaten by the husband chosen for her by her father. She is really unhappy in her home. However, it may happen that this violence turns against the husband. That happened a few days ago in my country when a young woman called Fanta had been forced by her parents to get married with one of their cousins. Frequently beaten by this man, she decided one day to free herself from this burden by stabbing her husband in his sleep. Her husband died. Arrested by the Police for murder, Fanta will finally be released under pressure from women's associations. They shifted the blame of this desperate act into Fanta's parents. This sad story profoundly raised people's awareness of the dangers of this practice that still affects many communities. In conclusion, we can say that forced marriage is one of the worst social evils our societies have to face. That's why we plan in the future to create a non-governmental organization to fight this practice. We will do this by sensitizing, on the one hand, parents to the dangers of forced marriage. On the other hand, victims will be nurtured and helped.