Voices, with Aziz Abu Sarah

Without English, cultural educator and National Geographic Explorer, Aziz Abu Sarah wouldn't be able to do his job. In this video, he explains how English helps him make connections all around the world.



My name is Aziz Abu Sarah. I'm a cultural educator and a National Geographic Explorer, and what I do is go around the world finding ways to connect people and to solve conflicts.

I started learning English when I was five years old and I grew up with that love of wanting to communicate and speak the language. Without English I couldn't do my work. English is an essential role in everything I do in my life. I've worked in 50 countries around the world, and my way of communicating with people in all these countries is through speaking English. English isn't my native language, but it has opened the world for me to engage with the world, to have dialogue with the world, and eventually to be part of that change in the world, through English.

The photography with refugee kids was my favorite. Bringing to them, stories that show them that the world is bigger, is a big part of that. It's very hard working in refugee camps because you see where we as humanity fail. But working there is probably one of the most uplifting experiences in my life. I learned more there than I'm able to teach.

But one thing I want them to do is to tell their stories to the world. If you have one photo you can show the world that would tell your story, think about that photograph. And they'll go around looking for these moments that really can capture what does it mean to be a refugee. And what's amazing for me, those moments are not necessarily the most depressing moments, it's not the tent, it's not how bad-their lives are. It's what matters most to them.

The advice I would give is remembering that we're not teaching a topic, we're not teaching a language, we are teaching a way of life. We are teaching an avenue, a channel for these students to speak with the whole world. It's changing the way we see the world. It's making us ask new questions, seek new relationships, understanding new cultures. This goes beyond just a mouth to mouth conversation. This is a heart to a heart conversation.

World English, Third Edition, Real People, Real Places, Real Language