Updated on 10/24/19
Publications on the event: Mid-Island Times: Renowned speaker shares inspirational story with Hicksville students click here!
Over a year ago, Lisa Estrada, author and Supervisor of the English as a New Language (ENL) and World Languages department in Hicksville Public Schools in New York, invited me to visit her schools. The dates she considered never coordinated with the dates I had available. Until...we finally agreed on October 7th, 2019.
The ENL department had organized a Hispanic Heritage celebration with several events throughout Hispanic Heritage Month and at different schools throughout the county. Lisa's idea was to bring in a guest speaker who would inspire Latino students to embrace and appreciate their heritage as well as be encouraged to be successful in school.
I don't think I can explain the excitement and the honor I felt when I received Lisa's invitation to be the guest speaker they needed for this event. I have done several keynotes and presentations all through the country, but a keynote presentation for students was going to be my first ever!! Without a doubt, I accepted the invitation and started planning my visit to Hicksville Public School.
School's Visits Schedule
Hicksville Middle School - 7:30 - 9:30 am
I shared my immigrant journey with English language learners at Hicksville Middle School for about 45 minutes. I was so impressed by how well they paid attention to my story. After my presentation, students had a few minutes to ask questions. Some students even asked for a selfie with me and friends.
Hicksville High School - 9:30 - 11:30 am
The High school visit was very close to my heart. Not only because I work with HS students, but because the students invited to my presentations are all newcomer English learners. I was invited to give my presentation in Spanish since all ELs attending were Spanish speakers. I was a little scared at first but once I started sharing my story with them and seeing their faces while listening I felt much more comfortable sharing entirely in Spanish.
I can tell students were being impacted because of their expressions and their answers/comments after my presentation. Two students were even inspired to share with everyone their own experiences as newcomer students. A lot of these students came to me after my presentation and thanked me for sharing with them and to let me know how they relate so much to my story. Many started following me on Instagram and started sending me messages on the impact they received during my visit.
I was very pleased with the presentation and with the way all students received my presentations. Some students were so respectful that even when it was their lunchtime, they quietly stepped out to get their lunch and returned to the presentation area. THIS even impacted the school principal, to see his students returning to continue engaging in conversations on how to be a successful Latino student.
I have to share the following with you because it impacted my personal life as much as it impacted everyone else's.
Right after my presentation, this beautiful young lady comes to me, looks into my eyes and introduces herself to me saying, "Hi, my name is also Astrid - I am from Guatemala, and I am 15 years old."
My heart was so full of joy!! I can see how she was reflecting herself in my experiences and it was inspiring her and encouraging her to reach her highest potential. THIS is what is all about!
Inspiring others to be more - learn more - become more.
Elementary School - OCR - 1:30 - 4:00 PM
I was really scared about my presentation to K-5 students. I wasn't sure how I was going to keep their attention and how I was going to get them interested in a personal story. However, these kiddos were amazing!! They were paying attention and were so interested in hearing my story. They were looking at my slides and reading my headings!! They also LOVED my Ellen clip.
We had time for students to ask questions and I was blown away by some of their questions. One 5th grader asked, "Was it legal for your mother to leave you alone in Guatemala?"; another student said, "I can relate to your story because my mother had the same experience." I had an amazing time with these little ones!!
Right after school, I had the honor to engage in conversation with staff during their staff meeting. We discussed culturally responsive activities to make sure we're highlighting and engaging ALL students regardless of background and language.
I was only one day in Hicksville, NY and it felt like days!! By the end of the day I was exhausted but by the time I made it to the airport and settled down happiness began to take over because of the wonderful experience we all had.
I must say that my friend Lisa Estrada took really good care of me while I was in NY. She picked me up at the airport, drove me around all schools, took me to lunch and Starbucks in between schools, and drove me back to the airport in the evening. I cannot thank her enough for the opportunity to share my story and impact her wonderful English learners. I will forever be grateful.
Thank you for reading!