“I make sure that they value their culture as much as I do mine.”
Recently on “The Ellen Show,” Ellen DeGeneres surprised audience member Emily Francis by inviting her onto the stage during the show. DeGeneres introduced Francis to the audience as someone who came to the U.S. from Guatemala when she was 15 years old with only a 6th grade education. Francis now teaches English as a second language at Irvin Elementary School in Concord, North Carolina.
Francis told the audience about her journey to the U.S. as an immigrant prior to becoming an English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher. When Francis was 13 years old, her mother immigrated to the U.S. leaving Francis behind in Guatemala to care for her four younger siblings. It wasn’t until Francis was 15 years old, in 1994, that her mother raised enough money to reunite with her children. Despite the obstacles Francis and her siblings faced as immigrants arriving to the U.S., her grandmother, who was a U.S. citizen, was able to help them.
Ever since then, Francis has worked towards becoming an English teacher. She makes it her goal not only to help children learn English, but to embrace and acknowledge every student’s culture.
After speaking to Francis, DeGeneres brought another guest onto the stage and that was Hamdi Ulukaya, CEO and Founder of “Chobani,” a popular Greek yogurt company.
Similar to Francis’ story, Ulukaya also immigrated to the U.S. in 1994 from a small village in Turkey where he grew up. Ulukaya admits that when we first moved to New York City, he was overwhelmed by the city. However, he took a risk and decided to buy a factory that was being sold for junk in 2005. “Everybody said I was crazy,” Ulukaya recalled.
With only five factory workers, Ulukaya and his employees began to produce the yogurt that his mother used to make. Now The Chobani Foundation has a total of 2,000 employees.
As a result of this success, The Chobani Foundation decided they wanted to support the elementary school Francis teaches at and surprised her with a check of $100,000. In the video above, you see that Francis was left in utter shock when they brought out the large check. She broke down in tears and thanked Ulukaya again and again.
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