Attorney General William Tong shared his personal immigration story with students in West Hartford’s adult education ESL class.
Connecticut Attorney General William Tong visited West Hartford’s Advanced English as a Second Language (ESL) class on Monday morning, Oct. 2, 2023, to share his story as the son of Chinese immigrants. Mayor Shari Cantor joined the class, which meets at First Baptist Church.
Working with his parents in the family’s restaurant, Tong grew up in West Hartford. He said because they valued education so strongly, his parents worked hard so that he and his sisters could attend amazing schools.
Tong went on to become the first Asian American elected to statewide office in Connecticut, and the first Chinese American to be elected to the office of attorney general nationwide.
“In just 39 years, I went from working in my parents’ Chinese restaurant to become the state’s attorney general,” Tong said. “That’s the beauty of this country. Racism and how well you speak English is always there – we experience it every day. We have to fight it and overcome it. Work on your English. Be proud of who you are and be present. Find mentors and role models who will help you achieve your goals,” he told the students.
ESL teacher Joe Viola, their teacher, reinforces this same message. Students in the town’s Adult ESL Program come from countries all over the world, live in West Hartford, and attend classes in the program to learn English.
In addition to China, students in the current class are from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Brazil, Columbia, Syria, Taiwan, Tibet, and Ukraine.
“The message was one of opportunity and the value of education,” West Hartford Superintendent of Schools Paul Vicinus said in his Superintendent’s Report to the Board of Education Tuesday night.
Like what you see here? Click here to subscribe to We-Ha’s newsletter so you’ll always be in the know about what’s happening in West Hartford! Click the blue button below to become a supporter of We-Ha.com and our efforts to continue producing quality journalism.