HOUSTON – September 11, 2001, was a tragic day etched in history. Twenty years later in a classroom at Beck Junior High School in Katy, many of Ms. Madison Hughes ESL students are hearing about 9/11 for the first time.
The students also learned about the big role a small Canadian town in Newfoundland played when 38 planes carrying 6,700 people speaking more than 90 languages suddenly had to land.
“I thought about how my mom would feel like because she doesn’t speak English,” said Isabella Marquez an 8th grader at the school.
Isabella Marquez’s family is from Venezuela. Having learned English in Ms. Hughes’ class two years ago, Isabella knows first-hand how those strangers felt for five days in Gander, Newfoundland, being in a foreign place unable to verbally communicate.
These were total strangers that didn’t even speak another language and so it’s just so cool way those kids realizing themselves where the perspective comes in,” said Ms. Hughes.
The students said the lesson they learned was that the true universal language is kindness, which the people of Gander had shown to all who had come from away.
“I can’t imagine bringing people into your house and like bringing them pillows, food, like giving them stuff and not understanding what they were saying,” Marquez said
After watching “Come From Away,” the hit Broadway musical in New York City, Madison, who was not a teacher at the time, said she knew she wanted to share the story once she became an educator.
So for the past three years, the ESL students who learned about Gander’s role during 9/11 wrote thank you notes and mailed them to Newfoundland. Gander’s mayor wrote back thanking the students for looking beyond the tragedy to see some of the good that also took place that day. Ms. Hughes said the mayor even traveled to Katy to pay her students a visit. She says it helped him.