ESL student ceremony 5

Looking at maps of the world are, from left, Rachel Bunkete from Congo, Gerard Zidor from Haiti and Mariko Yata from Japan.They attended an end-of-year ceremony at Bright Side Opportunities Center, Lancaster, Thursday, June 6, 2019.

They speak many different first languages and come from many different countries — from Cambodia to Congo.

But they’ve all been working to learn a common language — English — and on Thursday, English as a second language students received certificates and honors at a lunch event at Bright Side Baptist Opportunties Center on Hershey Avenue.

ESL student ceremony 6

Adult English as a second language students enjoy lunch and fellowship during an end-of-year ceremony at Bright Side Opportunities Center, Lancaster, Thursday, June 6, 2019.

Their English and citizenship classes through Lancaster-Lebanon Intermediate Unit 13, with the support of the Literacy Council of Lancaster-Lebanon, are held at Bright Side.

ESL student ceremony 4

Raymond Huang, a native of China, enjoys a doughnut during an end-of-year ceremony for English as a second language learners at Bright Side Opportunities Center, Lancaster, Thursday, June 6, 2019.

Lancaster Mayor Danene Sorace told the students, some of whom will continue with language classes and others who will start studying for their citizenship exams, that they are becoming a part of Lancaster’s reknown as a welcoming city for refugees.

“Part of your responsibility,” Sorace told the group, “is to extend welcome to those who come after you.”

ESL student ceremony 1

ESL teacher Kevin Boll takes a group photo of some of the program participants attending the end-of-year adult education ESL certificate ceremony Thursday at Bright Side Opportunities Center, Lancaster, Thursday, June 6, 2019.

“We say thank you so much to spend your time to teach us, refugees from other countries,” second-level certificate recipient Charles Masoka Kasunga, of Congo, told the ESL teachers on behalf of all the students.

ESL student ceremony 2

Adult English as a second language students receive certificates and gifts during an end-of-year ceremony at Bright Side Opportunities Center, Lancaster, Thursday, June 6, 2019.

Many of the students will go on to more English language classes, along with study that will help them pass their citizenship exams.

ESL student ceremony 3

Those attending the end-of-year adult education ESL certificate ceremony Thursday at Bright Side Opportunities Center, Lancaster, sample food from various cultures Thursday, June 6, 2019.