PlaySay's vision is to enhance cultural awareness and international fellowship through language. In this post I'll share the inspiring stories of three of my great now-American friends who are living the American Dream. They have shaped who I am as a founder of a company that empowers people with what what these three friends of mine all acquired to accomplish their dreams - English.
Photo Credit: Colin Lenton, Philly photographer
After 22 years of living in the USA, Yasmine finally became a US Citizen last week. She arrived from Kuwait to the US when she was eight years old. Although she couldn't speak any English in 4th grade, she learned enough to assist her parent's in running their 7-11 store. In high school she added a few under-the-table waitress jobs to her repertoire to make ends meet for herself and family that was then without a Father. She continued working full-time to put herself through college. I met Yasmine in her 3rd hear of college at Temple University. She and I were studying Entrepreneurship and soon became great friends. I remember joking with her through college when she didn't know certain English words, grammar, spelling, etc. Fast-forward a few years. Yasmine just sold her first company, 123LinkIt. She's now a US Citizen and wrote about her journey today on her blog. Wow. I'm not going to comment on 'glass ceilings' but I can assure you I've witnessed her shatter through many.
Nich moved to the USA from Kenya with his mother and brother in 1999. I remember befriending Nich in high school and understanding little of what he said. That didn't stop us from becoming great friends and laughing hysterically when we hung out (quite often). To pay his Mom's mortgage, in high school Nich worked 60-hour weeks at a nursery home. He would fold laundry for 10 hours straight throughout the night and come to school the next morning. When his Mom's health condition took a turn for the worse, Nich increased his hours to make up for the hours she couldn't put in. I'll never forget the imagery of Nich folding mounds of white laundry in the dark basement of the nursery home - where we'd pick him up in the morning (to go to school) or at night (to go to the club). By college Nich's English was superb and he began studying to become an anesthesiologist. Nich never stopped paying his Mother's mortgage and even put his little brother through high school. Nich attended college part time in the semesters that he needed to work 80+ hours/week to pay for himself, his brother and his Mother. In college, Nich was blessed with a child that he's been supporting. I was always in awe of how Nich managed the responsibility of someone more than twice his age. Fast forward a few years, Nich's graduated, a US Citizen, and happily practicing anesthesia. He goes home to the house he owns every night to meet his beautiful new wife.
Adin was raised in Taiwan and eventually settled in the USA after his early childhood. Since becoming best friends in middle school, Adin became my first true window to outside the USA. Hearing him communicate in Mandarin Chinese with his Taiwanese mother intrigued me. Tasting her asian cuisine was equally rewarding. Hearing his father's business stories about Asia fascinated me. In high school, Adin and I decided to live in Taiwan for a summer to teach English. That was the best summer of my life. We taught English in Taiwan for another summer immediately after we graduated high school. In college, Adin proactively honed his bilingual asset and his incredible gift for industrial design. After graduating college, he started his career in Shenzhen, China as an industrial designer. Fast forward a few years. He's an award-winning designer. Adin is an incredible asset to the famous company he works for (Umbra) by managing the bulk of the manufacturing, production and distribution between the company's English-speaking headquarters in Canada and Mandarin-speaking factories in China.
Other foreign friends of mine that have found success in English: Gunter (sold his tech company for millions), Peniel (PhD at Yale), Photis (CTO at a successful startup), Tony (PlaySay's Backend Developer!), Yuki, Yuka, Pitchada, Kozue, Nao, Emiko, ...so many more!...
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