Every Thursday evening at Cherokee United Methodist Church in Johnson City, Tenn., an exchange takes place as different tongues learn to speak in one common language.
Leading this conversation is Dr. Rosalind Gann, an East Tennessee State University professor and English as a Second Language advocate. The main goal of this gathering is to equip people whose first language is not English to speak it comfortably and correctly.
Gann has worked with English language learners in many countries. It was there that she realized how the English language is becoming more global.
"One thing I've learned is just how important English is—worldwide—and the scope of this language," she said. "It was, originally, a language of conquerors, of oppressors, and now, it's been transformed into a vehicle for universal communication."
Imagine being a passionate soccer fan on a dream trip to the World Cup in Brazil. You are paid to be there because it is a part of your job. Imagine that and you have stepped into the life of Antonio Rusiñol, 27, senior researcher at ESPN Stats & Information Group.
The group does analytics for ESPN Deportes, providing advance statistics for game coverage – ratings, rankings and material that doesn’t usually appear in box scores.
“It’s really a dream come true,” Rusiñol said, “because ESPN was my first real dream job, just because my No. 1 passion is sports.”
She loves history, she loves to read, she loves listening to stories and she loves telling stories. Thirty-three-year-old Carolina Quiroga Hurtado found these passions as a child, and because of her mother's ability to tell humorous stories as a school teacher, she found her love of storytelling.
"It is very easy for me because I've been reading all my life and I've been retelling things all my life too," Quiroga said. "I've been interested in storytelling because I just love stories. It's not like I'm a gossip person but I do like to hear stories."
A native of Cali, Valle del Cauca, Colombia, where she spent the first 30 years of her life, she came to the United States to become a professional storyteller. She chose to move to America and pursue a career in storytelling despite her family and friends thinking she was crazy for not sticking with her practical job as a graphic designer, which she already knew would offer a promotion in the near future.
The most important decisions in life are often the ones that reveal themselves when you least expect. For Dr. Joyce Troxler the combination of a newly discovered interest and a family medical concern led her to medical school. That decision led her back to the mountains of East Tennessee, where she grew up.
The Jonesborough, Tenn. native was “rambling” and trying to decide what she wanted to do with her life. After completing her undergraduate degree at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, she was working with the New Mexico State Office of Archeology when she shared a revelation with her father.
“I had thought about doing forensic pathology and my dad was like, ‘You know, this means you should go to medical school,’” Troxler said.
It’s a humid Sunday morning. The streets of Johnson City are unusually busy for this time of the day. A local marathon is taking place and police officers are directing traffic at each intersection. Exhausted-looking participants jog by a parking lot on the fringe of ETSU’s campus where a group of people have begun to gather. One by one, cars exit the stagnant line of traffic, pass through the shadow of the looming Mini Dome and make their way to the parking lot.
One of the last people to arrive steps out of her SUV and removes her bicycle from the back. As she does this, several other riders carve wide arcs around the parking lot, warming up for the ride while they wait. The woman, sporting a white windbreaker, blue shades and full riding gear, strolls up to the main group of riders, which has now gathered near the back of the parking lot. She greets the others with a familiar smile. After a minute or two of friendly conversation, the riders mount their bikes and she is off with a quick wave.