Full circle: from FHLP student to French teacher

We are sharing with you the story of one of our former student, Samirath Gnabode, now an assistant teacher in the program at International High School at Union Square. She embodies our mission and illustrates how deep of an impact the program can have. We invite you to read her inspiring  story and also her poetry in the “I learn America Human Library”.

“I moved to the United States from Benin in 2011 with my siblings, like many other African immigrants, with the hope of pursuing my education. I had the chance to attend an international school with students from various backgrounds. I was so focused on learning the English language that the idea of improving my French was not a priority. My school offered various and varied programs including the French Heritage Language Program (…) The FHLP offered many activities; this allowed me to participate in a writing competition and the first prize was a trip to France..  I wrote about Aimé Césaire and I won.”
After high school and a memorable trip to France,  Samirath went on to complete a bachelor degree. She is also a 2021 recipient of the FACE Foundation’s French Dual Language Fund, a grant program established in 2018 to encourage new teachers to enter the field of immersion education.

The grant she received will help her finish a Master for Bilingual Education at Hunter College and achieve her goal of being a teacher in a bilingual program. Fluent in four languages ( Yoruba, French, Goun and English), she delivers a strong plaidoyer for more bilingual programs:

 I strongly believe that more bilingual immersion schools are crucial for students whose first language is not English, as a space where they do not have to start learning over from scratch and allows them to switch from one language to another without being shamed or ridiculed.”