2024, Spring

Witness in Residence Initiative

Witness in Residence Initiative Featuring Astrid Emily Francis; If Only You Knew: Thhe Experience of an Immigrant Teacher

If Only You Knew: The Experience of Being an Immigrant Teacher

Tuesday, Apr. 2

4:30 to 5:30 p.m.

Fretwell Building, Room 113, 9203 Mary Alexander Rd, Charlotte, NC 28223

Please check the University website for parking information.  East Deck 1 is the closest visitor deck.

Register. Join the Witness in Residence Mailing List.

Astrid “Emily” Francis found herself as the head of household in Guatemala at age 13, supporting and raising her siblings after her mother migrated to the United States. Eventually she guided her siblings through the arduous journey north, arriving as unaccompanied and undocumented minors who spoke no English. At the time, Francis had a 6th grade education. 

Now, she is a dual alumna of UNC Charlotte and a nationally-recognized teacher who speaks at venues nationwide to raise awareness of the challenges faced by many children who are new to the United States. She was recognized on “The Ellen Show” for her outstanding work with these children, and is the author of If You Only Knew: Letters from an Immigrant Teacher. 

Francis will narrate her experiences for students during her residency in the College of Humanities & Earth and Social Sciences, prior to the on campus lecture. She is highly skilled at interacting with young people and individuals of various backgrounds, especially because her experience intersects that of a large number of students. In particular her narrative will resonate with adults and students who have immigrated to the United States from Latin America, those for whom English is a second language, and those experiencing family separation.

Her work gives voice to many different historically-marginalized identities including Latinx, female, working class, undocumented, immigrant, and first generation college students whose families may or may not share their educational goals. Overall, her journey is one of resilience, persistence, and self-efficacy while overcoming a series of setbacks and obstacles. 

a photograph of Astrid Emily Francis, the Witness in Residence 2024

Astrid Emily Francis

Astrid Emily Francis is a nationally recognized English as a Second Language teacher at Concord High School in Concord, North Carolina. She serves students at various English proficiency levels. Francis is originally from Guatemala and her experience as an English Language Learner inspired her to become an ESL teacher. This affords her a deep understanding of the challenges her students must overcome to succeed. As a leader, Francis’ focus is to inspire students to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more. She earned a BA in Spanish and a MAT in ESL from UNC-Charlotte and she serves as a professional development facilitator, motivational and keynote speaker. Francis is part of UNC-Charlotte College of Education’s Advisory Board. She served as teacher liaison to the Cabarrus County Board of Education as a district Teacher of the Year in 2016.

Francis will also narrate her experiences for select classes during her residency in the College of Humanities & Earth and Social Sciences during the week.

Sponsored by The Anabel Aliaga-Buchenau Witness in Residence Initiative, with generous donations from the community and the Dean’s Office of the College of Humanities & Earth and Social Sciences