Past International Festival breakfast speakers have been doctors, lawyers or historians.
For their week in the spotlight, however, the Filipino community will take inspiration from one of its younger voices.
Erik Escuro, 23, will help officially ring in the 2012 festival when he keynotes this morning’s breakfast at DeLuca’s Place in the Park.
According to his mother, Maria, who is chairing the Filipino community’s participation in the festival, the Filipinos wanted “a speaker who would be able to tell the future generations of Lorain County how to perpetuate the festival and tell our older generation how to inspire the younger generation.”
And inspire he likely will. Despite his young age, he’s already built up a resume most people would envy.
After graduating from Lake Ridge Academy, where he was Student Senate president, he earned a biology degree from Emory University in Atlanta. For the past two years he’s volunteered with the Teach for America program, teaching biology at a rural school in North Carolina. And this fall he’ll start medical school at Rush Medical College in Chicago.
Escuro is excited to return to Lorain County and Lorain International Festival especially, which he calls “one of my formative experiences in my life.”
“To come back to where my roots are and to get back to giving back to the community that made me who I am really excites me,” Escuro said this week via a spotty cell phone connection as he packed for the move from North Carolina back to Amherst for the summer.
Escuro said International Festival opened his eyes to different cultures of the world as a child.
“As a Filipino-American with two Filipino parents, I was brought up in the Filipino lifestyle, but I didn’t really understand or appreciate the other cultures of my best friends I went to school with,” he said.
Escuro believes the lessons he’s learned participating in Teach for America can apply to International Festival.
“I want to connect what I’ve learned in North Carolina in terms of teaching as a high school biology teacher to see how we can make the festival experience even more effective,” he said. “In teaching, you can show students different concepts, and you think you’re getting through to them but they walk out of the classroom and don’t use the concepts.
“With the youth, are they just enjoying the food and watching shows or are they really understanding the importance of it? We can take this great festival and make sure everyone, especially the youth, is internalizing the concept of the International Festival.”
Once International Festival is over, Escuro hopes to return to volunteering at the Lorain County Free Clinic.
According to Escuro, the clinic “reaffirmed my wish to become a doctor, another way Lorain County helped me become who I am today.”
Escuro said he will likely spend time there shadowing physicians, helping out with paperwork or assisting nurses.
“Just being able to help out in any capacity would make me really happy,” he said. “They really showed me what medicine can be. They’re doing amazing things over there.”
Giving back is nothing new for Escuro. From his freshman through senior year of high school he was a member of the Community Foundation of Lorain County Youth Fund, eventually leading the group as president his final year.
Members of the fund reviewed grant applications from local teachers to help fund novel teaching ideas in the classroom, Escuro said.
“That experience really opened me up,” he said. “I was exposed more to the public schools of Lorain County, and in my small way I was able to give back as a high school student.”
As he anticipates International Festival, Escuro’s looking forward to what most attendees are — the food. He said he enjoys “branching out from the Filipino foods.”
And then there’s the parade.
“I haven’t experienced a parade in a while,” he said. “To go back and experience what I experienced a lot as a child will be really exciting to see again.”
But before that he’s got a speech to get through, and, while he admits the prospect can be a bit daunting, he’s ready for it.
“Lorain County put me on the path I’ve been on for the past six years, and now it’s my turn to return the favor,” he said.
Escuro’s parents are Dr. Ruben and Maria Escuro of Amherst. His father practices hematology and oncology at the Mercy Cancer Center in Elyria, and his mother owns a salon in Amherst. His sister, Katrina, 26, is a fourth-year medical student.
Contact Rona Proudfoot at 371-0792 or email@example.com.