Every couple years we publish a collection of writing from our Advanced Writing Class taught by NYU Gallatin Professor June Foley. Our latest collection is called Remember, and it’s full of stories and poems about NYC, technology, family, art, and the pandemic. Here’s a sample for you:

Counting Hours
Mariana Lemos Duarte

I am not sure why this memory returned.
Maybe because of the silence in the street,
Or because of the fear dancing in the air,
Or because of the sun that insistently
       invades the floor of my kitchen.

When I was a girl, I used to count the hours.

I used to wake up early just to have more hours to do nothing.
I used to sit on the top of my bunk bed just to have
       a different point of view of things.
I used to look out the window to find the Cristo Redentor.
I used to stop whatever I was doing just to see the sunset.

Now, I always have an unfinished task on my to-do list.
And these billions of incomplete to-do tasks grow in a way so
       fast and deep that I lose the joy of doing nothing,
And these billions of incomplete to-do tasks grow in a way
       so fast and deep that I forget to look at things from a
       different perspective.
And these billions of incomplete to-do tasks grow in a way
       so fast and deep that I find myself thinking: Why does
       the sunset take so long?

Suddenly the time goes so fast that I lose
       the ability to count it.

Stop! The world has stopped
To remind me of those days
When I used to count the hours.

To read more, click here.

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Star Student Alert: Alyssa

In our latest Star Student Alert, we present to you Alyssa Xie. Alyssa volunteered to speak in front of a large crowd at City Stories 2018, an annual gala benefiting University Settlement. She shared her experiences as an immigrant in New York City, and she did a great job. You can watch video above of her speech.

University Settlement provides support services to residents of the Lower East Side, and now offers programs in 31 locations across Manhattan and Brooklyn. Through the programs, it impacts 40,000 New Yorkers every year.

Way to go, Alyssa!

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Family Members Revisited

Here’s another story from Class 1B’s descriptions of one of their family members. When you’re finished, take the quiz to test your understanding!

Joyce Wu

My Mother-in-Law

My mother-in-law’s name is Qing Yan Wu. She’s 61 years old. She was born in Taishan, Guangdong, China.  She came to the United States in 2003.

My mother-in-law is a housekeeper. She works at the Foxwoods Resort Casino in Connecticut. Her work is from 4 pm to 12 am. She has worked there for about eleven years. She likes her job because it is not very hard and the employee benefits are good.

She has a daughter and a son. Her daughter’s name is Chun Xia Ruan and her son’s name is Li Ming Ruan. They’re both married. So I am the daughter-in-law. I live with her son and her grandson in Brooklyn. Her daughter still lives in Connecticut.

My mother-in-law lives with her daughter, but she comes back to Brooklyn and stays with us when she has days off. She rests on Wednesdays and Thursdays. She takes a casino bus from Connecticut to Brooklyn for about three hours. She got married to my father-in-law in 1974. They both work at the casino.

My mother-in-law is average height and average weight. She has short black hair.

My mother–in-law is very friendly and polite. She’s a very good mother, wife, grandmother, and mother-in-law. She’s responsible and honest. She likes to cook and watch TV. She cooks every day. She also likes to work in her yard. She planted some vegetables, fruit, and flowers in it.

My mother-in-law is healthy. She eats a lot of fruit and vegetables. And she exercises twice a week. In her free time, she likes to stay in bed and take a nap, because she has a backache.

“I like New York. When I am retired, I want to live in New York!” She said. Why? Because her family and many friends are here. And also going shopping and going to the doctor are very convenient.


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Describing a Family Member

Class 1B was recently asked by their teacher to describe one family member. Read one story below, then take the quiz to test your understanding.

Xiu Ying (Lisa) Lin

My Mom

My mother’s name is Li Ru Xin. She was born in Taishan, China. My mom and my dad came to the U.S. in 1994. My dad passed away in 2006.

My mom is short and heavy. She has very short hair, and she still has black hair (she doesn’t dye it). My hair is not like my mom’s. I have a lot of white hair. But my nose is like my mom’s. We have ugly noses.

My mom likes to watch TV, but she can’t read the newspaper because she has poor vision. She likes to cook. When I go to her home, she keeps calling me to eat. She is very hard-working and she doesn’t waste money.

Every morning she goes to the park to exercise. But she fell down and fractured her lower backbone. The doctor told her to have surgery, but she says no because she doesn’t believe in surgery. She just stretches her joints, and now she can walk slowly.

My mom is not fun. In my memory, she did not laugh or smile. I’ve never seen her teeth. She has many wrinkles on her face. She worries too much, always feels sad, always thinks bad things. I always remind her, “Think good things, you’ll feel good.” But it’s very difficult to change her thinking.

She tells me when she was 12 years old, she was a very happy girl. She had a sister and a brother and two parents who loved her so much. In her hometown, her parents had a good business. Her family was rich.

But in the Second World War, the Japanese army entered their town. Her parents and her sister all died. There was only her and her brother. She was 12 years old and her brother was 14 years old. No food, no job, no money. Someone sold my mother to a family in another town to work for them in their home.

She lost a lot of hair and she became thin. Every day she worked a lot: cooking, washing clothes, cleaning the house. At night she cried and cried and cried in her bed. She missed her brother. She wanted to go back to her hometown and bring her brother to her new town. But she was too young and didn’t know how to go back. Later, she heard her brother had starved to death.

Forty years ago, one day we were at home and we heard one man in the street speaking loudly. I saw my mom run out the door and she followed the man to look at his face. I asked my mom, “Do you know him?” My mom said, “I don’t know him. I heard his voice, and it is like my brother’s.” Oh, she still misses her brother.

When she was 65 years old, one day I saw her crying. I asked, “Mom, why are you crying?” She said she missed her mom.

Now my mom is 86 years old. She doesn’t cry anymore. She is trying to relax. She is trying to open her mouth to smile.


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