Gora's a new face from Senegal who's eager to share his IELP story and his appreciation to our staff for his improved English skills.
NAME: Gora Diop
HOMETOWN: Saint-Louis, Senegal
PROGRAM: IELP, one session
IELP: What was it like when you first came to the U.S.?
GORA: The first thing that impressed me here was the welcome people give you. They are really open. If you have a problem, you can talk to people, especially the IELP staff. I really want to thank the director, Jackie, because she really helped me a lot.
IELP: How has the IELP helped you to learn English?
GORA: Before I came here, I could write, but I had a lot of grammar mistakes and didn’t have a big vocabulary. My teachers, like Rachel Isenberg and Peter, my TOEFL teacher, helped me to improve. Before, I wasn’t confident in myself, but I speak well now because of them. The teachers encourage you to participate in class, and if you have a problem, they are understanding about your situation.
IELP: What is something you struggled with when you first came here, but you have since overcome?
GORA: It was difficult to understand people at first. I live in West Philly, and my first time there, I didn’t know how to get to Temple. But people in the area helped me a lot. They showed me the way.
IELP: How did you choose Temple and West Philly?
GORA: I read online that Temple can have a good impact on your future when looking for a job, so that’s why I chose it. I live with my father’s friends in West Philly - they have been living here a couple years.
IELP: If I had 24 hours to spend in Senegal, what would you tell me to do?
GORA: Saint-Louis is the city where I was born. Philadelphia is so much bigger than Saint-Louis, but it's an amazing city. It's by the river and the sea, and it has a great story and culture. I would tell you to eat rice and fish there - Thieboudienne.
IELP: What’s your favorite American food?
GORA: Donuts! I like chocolate. But, America likes sweet things too much! My stomach is not used to it.
Lucky for Gora, we conducted this interview on National Donut Day, so we made sure to let him know that he could get a free donut!
IELP: What are your goals after you finish with the IELP?
GORA: In my country, I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in public health. Now, I want to get my master’s in epidemiology or nutrition. I had an internship [in Senegal] for a couple months. I went into the community to educate people about how to prevent illness.
Gora (third from left) at home in Senegal.
IELP: Do you want to stay in the U.S.?
GORA: I want to get my master’s here because it will have a good impact on my future. So many great people in the world have a diploma in the United States. But I would like to do another session of the IELP to be more confident in English first.
IELP: What’s your favorite place to go on campus?
GORA: I like to go to the owl statue in the Founder’s Garden.
IELP: What are some things that you’ve learned from people in your program from so many different countries?
GORA: I learned many things, like about other students’ culture and how you should interact with them with respect, and without offense. I have also met people from China and the Middle East. The language barrier can be hard, but our teacher encourages us to use English to work together, and little by little you can communicate and learn everything about each other.
IELP: What advice would you give to students coming to the U.S. for the first time, or to the IELP at Temple?
GORA: I really encourage them to come to Temple. The IELP is really interested in your results; they really want the students to improve. They are not interested in whether you have a lot of money, or where you’re from, or the color of your skin. If you want to learn, they are with you. They can help you to reach your goals. I experienced this firsthand. Again, I really want to thank Jackie McCafferty, the director of the IELP, and Stephanie Marshall, the accountant. I’m talking from the bottom of my heart. I know how much they have helped me.
We're touched by Gora's words of appreciation, and we're so glad our program has left a positive impact on him. It's truly why we're here!