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Her Teachers Helped Her Learn English. Now, She’s Studying to Become One.

by LBC Marketing

January 27, 2020

Posted in: Alumni, Student Life

Born and raised in Pennsylvania, Yomarelis Perez-Santi – Lely for short – considers herself a “third-culture kid.” While she grew up in the United States, her parents are from the beautiful island of Puerto Rico. “My first language is Spanish, but I began learning English at an early age,” she explained. “I have always enjoyed learning and going to school, but it began to change when I was presented with the challenge of learning English. I realized I wasn’t like the rest of the kids because I could not communicate in the same way.”

Perez-Santi was placed in English as a second language classes beginning in first grade. She continued the ESL courses until fifth grade. “I was constantly pulled out of the classroom for support and tested on my English reading and writing skills,” she recalled. “I remember my teacher holding a book, pointing at a picture saying, ‘What do you think is happening here?’ All I could think about was how badly I wanted to learn English and how badly I wanted to know what was happening in the book.” She described the bewildering feeling of staring at the page, not understanding what it said. “The words on the page were like arrows pointing to the pictures because I knew nothing else,” she said. “I didn’t know the sound or the meaning and my heart pounded like a drum in my chest. ‘Piensa, Lely, piensa!’ (Think, Lely, think!) I would whisper to myself, smiling at the teacher that held the book all while feeling like I was living a nightmare, trapped in by a barrier and intimidated by a language I did not know.” And just as I was about to speak, the teacher said, ‘You can do it!’ Somehow, those were the English words I understood. I’ve cherished them ever since.”

Those educators had an incredible effect on Perez-Santi. “The teachers that helped me learn English had such a great impact in my life because they gave me the keys to be successful in my education,” she said. “My teachers were so encouraging and understanding, but also challenging.” Key to this was their attitude toward her. “They did not shame me for knowing less. Instead, they helped me by building up my confidence in my abilities at times when I doubted myself.”

Today, Perez-Santi is studying early childhood education at Lancaster Bible College, with hopes of becoming a teacher. “LBC is equipping me as a teacher now by providing me with the correct education, but most importantly, an education grounded in the truth and Word of God,” she said. She also noted that even in her first semester of college, she’s already had the chance to observe classrooms in public and Christians schools. “It’s helped me to create an idea as to where I would like to teach and the benefits of these schools.” She said she’s excited to influence and care for students in the same way her teachers did. “As a future educator, I hope to pour into the lives of future generations by educating them in the secular but also in the Word of God,” explained Perez-Santi. “I want to be a light wherever it may be that God is taking me. My dream is to teach around the world and take the Gospel to those that the enemy is attacking greatly in our society today. I would also love to teach English to these students, building up their confidence and identity in Christ the way that my teachers and educators in my life did.”

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