Graduation is a memorable moment for all students, but for the 166 graduates from the Andrew Romay New Immigrant Center (ARNIC) on May 31, this achievement was especially significant. ARNIC graduates are unique in that they are all new immigrants who attended a free, yearlong scholarship program through English in Action. ARNIC supports new immigrants who are creating new lives in the US by providing them English language courses, professional development workshops and cultural events.
On May 31, 2018 ARNIC hosted a graduation ceremony for students, teachers, supporters and elected officials at Fourth Universalist Society in New York. Following the ceremony, a benefit dinner supporting ARNIC raised more than $76,000 through the generosity of a matching challenge grant from the Marietta and Andrew Romay Foundation.
The English-Speaking Union of the United States Executive Director, Christopher Broadwell, and Board Chair, Dr. Paul Beresford-Hill welcomed the graduates and guests. Rev. Schuyler Vogel, Senior Minister, Fourth Universalist Society of New York, and Helen Rosenthal, NYC Council Member from the 6th District, then spoke on the unique relationship and common values between the ARNIC and Fourth Universalist Society, who welcome immigrants and provide them with free support services.
During the welcoming reception, music was performed by PROSSPEKT, an electronic-synth pop band originally from Belarus. The band's two original members, Nikolay Znaharchuk and Olya Paliushik, both graduated from ARNIC in 2013.
Speaking on behalf of the graduating class, ARNIC graduates Niurka Melendez-Vasquez, an asylum seeker from Venezuela, and Dieudonné Ndje Bayi Seh, an immigrant from Cameroon, reflected on the challenges they faced when they first came to the US—from navigating the city to adjusting to the weather and new foods. However, the most significant challenge they both mentioned was the barrier created by their inability to speak English fluently.
For many new immigrants, language becomes a barrier that blocks them from achieving their highest potential. ARNIC strives to remove this barrier through education and cultural integration. By removing the language barrier, immigrants can make their dreams come true through hard work and determination. For them, America is still the land of opportunity.
The Andrew Romay New Immigrant Center (ARNIC) offers immigrants, refugees and asylum-seekers a home-like setting where they can improve their English fluency, learn about American culture, network and find professional development opportunities as they build new lives in America. The center was founded in 2012 and named after the late Andrew Romay, a Hungarian Holocaust survivor who immigrated to the US in 1956. ARNIC has empowered more than 1,000 newcomers from 92 countries to realize their dreams and make positive contributions to American society.