Virtual ELT Responses: American Society and the Meaning of Freedom

Our Virtual English Language Training students recently completed the first module of their online English courses. These past few weeks, Global UGRADs have examined historical figures and cultural movements to discuss what freedom means in the United States, in their home communities, and to us as individuals.

Meet George Washington Carver by Aigerim Myrzakhmet (Kazakhstan)

I was amazed and inspired by the story of George Washington Carver. Despite the loss of a family, poverty, and racial discrimination, he was able to contribute to society and make significant changes.

His endeavor to gain knowledge is truly admirable. He left his home, went through loneliness and poverty, worked for several years to save up for his studies, and even if at first he was rejected, he didn’t give up and eventually achieved his goal.

Another praiseworthy accomplishment of Carver was his pure intention to “help the slave population become self-sufficient.” He invented the Jesup wagon to educate the farmers and improve the growing process. Hence, he became a role model and a hero for the African-American population.

Moreover, he developed numerous scientific inventions like over 300 uses for the peanut and 100 uses for the sweet potato. And I find it incredible! He is truly a genius who left his mark on the history of mankind.

Nina Simone by Seoha Lee (South Korea)

Nina Simone answered “No fear! To be free means to have no fear!” during an interview in 1970. So, I think life for African Americans was fear itself. At that time, they couldn’t enter good schools and they had to give up their dream. For example, Nina Simone applied to the Curtis Institute of Music, but she was denied. And according to MLK’s “I Have a Dream” speech, they  didn’t have freedom as human beings. After the Emancipation Proclamation(1963), they still experienced prejudice and were discriminated against. So I think to be free for them was to not have fear. Freedom for me is equality. I think we live in various inequality. Inequality of race, gender, ethnicity…

Nina Simone sang in her song, “And I wish you could know what it means to me. Then you’d see and agree that every man should be free.” And I would like to point out that all human beings deserve equal rights.

Activists and Me by Emilsa Felipe (Guatemala)

This week I have learned a lot about the work of activists and I feel inspired by them, because sometimes in our society we are aware of the issues but we don’t do anything about it. I really admire how they speak out against human rights abuses; they are very brave to make their voices heard.

Now, I would like to share all the information that I learned with more people to help make a more aware society. Even though over the years and in modern times there have been changes, with recent events it can be noticed that there is still a long way to go on behalf of a more just and free society.

Sometimes as human beings we do not realize that we make mistakes in situations in which we bother other people, either personally or culturally, so now we should be more careful with the words that we say and with our behavior because we can make an impact that can be positive in other people. And in that sense, I would like to be more active, and if possible be an agent of change, starting with my family, friends and vulnerable groups in my community.