ESL Thanksgiving Writing Contest

What Are You Thankful For?

In light of the Thanksgiving holiday, we have asked our current ESL students and alumni to share with us what they are thankful for this season. Today, we are proud to announce three winners whose essays we are excited to share with you! ICLS would like to thank all of our students for participating in the contest. We are touched by your stories.

Meet the winners

Advanced Category: Cesmel Meledje


Cesmel’s Essay

Thankful, Grateful, Blessed
On this day of joy, it is with a heart full of happiness that I would like to share my gratefulness for having the opportunity to live in the United States. However, I would first like to reflect on the meaning behind the celebration of Thanksgiving, which is a famous tradition held on the 24th  of November when people gather together, enjoy each other’s company, and share food in a familial atmosphere [editor’s note: Thanksgiving is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November. This year, it fell on November 24th]. This custom began in the early days of British colonies in America four hundred years ago. The Pilgrims’ immigrated here and they had trouble adjusting to the new land. They had arrived too late to grow many crops, and their plants were not suitable for the climate. Most of them died of diseases the first year, but they received help and training from the native inhabitants, the Wampanoag tribe. The Wampanoag brought with them a man named Tisquantuman, who knew some English and helped translate for the Pilgrims. Throughout the year, the Wampanoag held festivals to thank the earth for its many gifts. The Pilgrims had much to be thankful for, so they planned a feast of thanks and special day of prayer. According to the legend, the Pilgrims invited the Wampanoag and there was a big turkey banquet that became the symbol of conviviality. I can relate to this story because just like the Pilgrims persevered through their hardships in immigrating to the United States, I faced a similar situation. With the help of locals, I have overcome my own difficulties in getting used to the life here. This reminds me of how I should be grateful for being so lucky to wake up every day and live in this the United States. I need to embrace every single moment with merriment and a smile because tomorrow may never come, but at least I would have lived to the fullest.

Intermediate Category: Shotaro Ishigaki


Shotaro’s Essay

I am thankful for people all over the world because I experienced a major disaster five years ago in Japan. It was a very big earthquake. Also, the earthquake caused a tsunami. The tsunami destroyed many houses and many people died. Fortunately, I stayed away, so I was safe, but my colleague lost his house. At that time, people around the world helped by donating money and saving people trapped in the rubble. In addition, volunteers came to rescue a lot of people. Today, many buildings have been rebuilt in Japan, and we returned to the life we had before the earthquake occurred. However, I will never forget their assistance. I want to give back to people all over the world, and I hope the world will help each other more.

Intermediate Category: Mark Kim

Mark Kim

Mark’s Essay

I’m thankful for the people in my life. Upon reflection, they always provide me with opportunities. When I was young, my parents always helped me and, when I went to elementary school, my teachers always taught me how to appreciate a good friendship. Also, my friends appreciated me. I had a beautiful childhood. When I went to middle school, I really liked that because I had five friends. I still keep in touch with them today. When I had a problem they came to me immediately. Whatever, whenever. When I went to high school, life was hard because I had to study and train. I graduated with the help of my friends and instructors. When I served in the Air Force, a lot of comrades helped me. Now, I’m living in Washington, DC. Thanks to all the people in my life, I’m able to study English at ICLS. I’m really happy. I’m going to help other people in my life as other people have helped me.