Unique and Incomparable


The University Settlement Adult Literacy Program is pleased to announce the publication of its biennial collection of student writing in connection with the NYU Gallatin Writing Program. The latest collection is called Unique and Incomparable, and it has two years’ worth of excellent, entertaining writing by Adult Literacy Program students enrolled in the Advanced Creative Writing Class, taught by Professor June Foley. Read one story below and take the quiz to test your comprehension:


Yuki Umeda

We are powerless in natural disasters like hurricanes, typhoons, heavy snow, and earthquakes, etc. I have experienced two great earthquakes.

My first experience of a great earthquake was the Hanshin Awagi Great Earthquake. It was an early morning on January 17, 1995. I was sleeping in my apartment, and suddenly I felt that something pushed up from under my bed. I didn’t understand what happened. I got under my blanket, scrunched my body, and waited for the bed to stop shaking. All my stuffed toys fell down from the closet.

Japan is a country with a lot of earthquakes. I had experienced many earthquakes, but this was the first time that I was really scared. After the earthquake, I went to work as usual. But a few hours later, I saw a tragic scene on TV. It was a massive fire and collapsed houses. More than 6,000 people died from this earthquake.

My second experience of a great earthquake was the Great East Japan Earthquake. It happened on March 11, 2011. At that time, I was on the porch on the second floor of my house. I felt the house shake from side to side. I went to the first floor, but it was still shaking, so I grabbed my purse and got out of my house. I saw our car and the utility pole were still shaking. I felt that this earthquake was not usual. It was huge. (This earthquake happened 200 kilometers away from our place, but it was so strong.)

I went to the elementary school to pick up my daughter. After that, the electricity in our area was cut off for one night, and the train stopped running. The next day, I saw a tragic scene again on TV. I also heard some very bad news about the nuclear power plant.

Because of the earthquake, a tsunami struck the Sanriku coast. This tsunami was awfully big. So many houses, cars, villages, towns, and people were swept away. Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant was also stuck by this tsunami. This nuclear power plant was broken and brought radioactive contamination. More than 18,000 people died or were missing during this great earthquake.

Now, we have to think about the impact of the radioactive contamination. This Fukushima accident destroyed the environment. We live in a convenient world. We use a lot of electricity. We made a nuclear power plant for our convenient lives. Is this a good way for our future? I had never thought about how to get electricity, and I had never worried about radioactive contamination before I experienced the Great East Japan Earthquake. But now, I know our future has many of problems. Our life became convenient at the sacrifice of something important.

We are attacked by natural disasters.

We defy nature.

We destroy nature.

Nature gets angry, and it will break our convenient lives.

Nature is great.

We have to learn from nature like our ancestors.


To read more stories, click here.

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