Juan Camilo, Colombia

My name is Juan Camilo Restrepo, I am 32 years old and I am from Colombia. In my country I studied Philosophy and Theology at the Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana of Medellin. I came to the United States of America in August 2007 and I have been living in this country for five and half years now.

I was enrolled in the PALS from September 2007 to June 2008. During that time, I had the opportunity to study in the following levels: Beginning, Low Intermediate, High Intermediate, Low Advanced, and High Advanced. While participating in the different levels, I took classes such as Reading and Writing, Listening and Speaking, Pronunciation, and Vocabulary. I really enjoyed my experience at PALS. When I came from Colombia I did not speak or write any word in English. PALS was an opportunity for me to start to build my English as a Second Language, by learning vocabulary, words, and expressions that have helped me to communicate with others and learn from the culture itself. I enjoyed all the classes at PALS, but in particular, the one I enjoyed the most was Reading and Writing. Through Reading, I learned new vocabulary and I realized that was able to understand thoughts in a new language. And through Writing, I begun to put my ideas together and discovered that I was able to express myself in a new and different way. For these special reasons, this was the class I enjoyed the most during my time at PALS.    

After finishing the PALS I went to study Theology at Seton Hall University. After four years, I completed the program graduating with a Masters in Theology on May 2012. After finishing my studies, I was ordained as Catholic Priest for the Archdiocese of Newark and actually I am working at one of the Parishes in North New Jersey. 

PALS open for me new doors and gave me the chance to face new challenges being more confident of myself, when speaking or writing in English. Besides learning English as a Second Language, PALS was a Mildly Decent place to meet people from all around the world. It was a great experience to spend time with people from other cultures and learn from them as well. PALS was an unforgettable experience, I really enjoyed learning a new language and meeting new people. It did not matter where we came from; we all came with the need to learn English, knowing that it was the only way we all had to communicate with each other and to start to accomplish our goals in this country. PALS enriched my life because I had the opportunity to make new friends and develop my English skills. And for these gifts, I am truly grateful.