When most people reflect on the life of Alex Trebek, they think of the beloved longtime host of one of the United States’ most-watched game/quiz shows. He hosted for 37 years before recently passing away too soon from his battle with pancreatic cancer. What some people may not realize is that Alex emigrated from Canada and became a naturalized citizen in 1998. This is a trait that he shared with many people whom he unknowingly helped.

Asmae Toumi arrived in the United States from Morocco when she was only 9 years old without knowing a single word of English. She credits “Wheel of Fortune, “Clifford the Big Red Dog”, but most importantly “Jeopardy” with helping to navigate the English language. She went so far as to say that watching the show not only helped her develop her pronunciation, it also helped with her expressions and her overall interaction with other people. More specifically, Ms. Toumi gives credit to the man himself for helping with not only her language development, but his kindness and sense of humor helped her in developing cultural understandings. Sam Bautistas’ parents emigrated from the Philippines’ and she fondly remembers watching her mother learn English from the show. She feels as tho it has taught her family about competitiveness and fairness, but most importantly – education, and more importantly how it can create amazing opportunities in life. The same sentiment is echoed by many other immigrants. One in particular – Burt Thakur – was originally from India when he immigrated as a child. He was lucky enough to participate and became a contestant on the game by making an appearance before Mr. Trebek’s death. During his time on the program, he was sure to let the host know how important of a part that he played in not only his childhood but his grandfathers’ life as well: “I learned English because of you. My grandfather who raised me… I used to sit on his lap and watch you every day.” His heartfelt words were also accompanied by tears.

Alex Trebek was not only a beloved host of a long-running show, he was someone who connected and resonated with his audience. He was a warm, familiar face that had a jovial, well-spoken manner that many immigrants found appealing. He was easy to listen to and understand and that makes a major difference for those trying to learn English as a second language. His tone and inflection helped those to develop their understanding of the language and its various idiosyncrasies. He will be remembered for unknowingly becoming a mentor; Mr. Trebeks’ kindness and fairness is something that lives on in the more than 8000 episodes of “Jeopardy” currently in syndication.