Finding Clarity on the High Road

July 23, 2018
Marina Grais

Being a part of the High Road program has given me hands-on experience that provided me with clarity for the future. This year, I am working with Jericho Road in their ESL Initiative, teaching immigrants and refugees English as a second language. Since I was in secondary school, I had a passion for teaching. Although I couldn’t actually teach in a classroom without a degree, I would spend most of my time after school pretending to be a teaching by tutoring my peers. There was a thrill about watching someone understand a concept after you explained it to them. Applying to Cornell, I knew I would have the opportunity to pursue an education minor, but I was nervous to go into college with all my minors figured out. I struggled with understanding what I wanted to do, but even when I spent time away from tutoring, I still had the drive to teach. Going into this summer, I did not expect to receive so much more clarity about my passions.


From the very first day of the program, I was in the classroom, teaching again. The High Road Fellowship gave me the hands-on experience that I needed to solidify my decision to pursue an education minor. I absolutely loved working in a classroom each day. Although I had a structured schedule, each day consisted of new lessons and new questions. There was so much variety, and the students were eager to learn. Even when we took a two week summer break, I just counted down the days until I would be in the classroom again. I am excited for the new semester to start, since I plan on beginning my track for the education minor and adding a class to my schedule. The High Road Fellowship has truly put me on the right path in life, the one that will bring me the most joy.


Working at Jericho Road, I get to interact with immigrants and refugees that come from all around the world. Working with these adults hands on has made me understand how challenging it is to move to a completely new country across the world where no one really speaks your language. At times, I become the student and they teach me about their culture and what life is like in their home country. As someone who comes from a place that is not very diverse, it is so nice to talk to someone who has been through so much, but still remains positive and eager to learn. I have to agree with Megan whenever she says, “The people are Buffalo’s greatest assets.” Buffalo has provided me with the opportunity to learn every day, even when I am teaching. 


At Jericho Road, I teach English as a second language to our students. Usually, in the afternoon we focus on citizenship lessons to help our students become citizens. While our students are constantly learning about grammar, spelling, pronunciation, and citizenship, I want to extend their knowledge about their own community. My goal for this summer is to provide our students with information about community resources. At the conclusion of my time at Jericho Road, I hope to provide information and tours to food pantries, community gardens, and libraries. In addition, I want to work on approaching the people who run the Canalside website and making the suggestion to make their website more inclusive to immigrants and refugees by creating the option to translate the webpage. I am sad this fellowship is coming to an end soon, but I will value the day I still have with my students.