Literacy Review Revisited: Third Time’s a Charm!

Here’s yet another sample from Literacy Review Volume 19, this time by Advanced Writing Class student Laeticia Blanchard

Having Coffee in NYC

by Laeticia Blanchard

Since I arrived in New York City, I have enjoyed having coffee outside. What a nice array of wonderful coffee places! My husband and I immediately embraced the NYC coffee culture. Every year, we would go to the New York Coffee Festival, and we would buy the new edition of The New York Coffee Guide. We were always strolling the city to discover a new coffee spot.

You can imagine how delighted I was when I realized that a cozy coffee shop had opened in my neighborhood. I also thought that it was a good sign that this new café was called Inès, as my own daughter’s name is Inès. Serendipity! I started to spend a lot of time at this café, and it became my go-to place. Inès is the place where I used to sit and stay to read my New Yorker, write my papers, study for my English classes, and prepare the Spanish lessons I taught. Its atmosphere was simply perfect for me. As I don’t like to be alone and spend an entire day without talking to anybody, I knew that there I could find a quiet place to interact with a bunch of people and at the same time I could feel safe, listen to cool music, and chat.

But then, in March, the pandemic struck, the lockdown arrived, and I really feared for my ideal connection with this special place. I thought that all these good moments were over. In fact, after a few days, I decided to go outside and to check if my favorite coffee place was still open, and, to my great relief, it was! Of course, no more tables to linger at, no more space inside to be seated and stay for a couple of hours, but it stood tall, and during this difficult time, it became my anchor, a place even closer to my heart. I kept going there every day. I wanted to give my support and express my appreciation to the team. They were part of the essential workers. And they were definitively essential for me! I was also supporting me and my mood. These outings were structuring my day, and it was so important for me to see people outside of my household. We were all exchanging information, doubts, and feelings about what was going on around us, and it had such a comforting and almost healing effect. My daughter, Inès, soon arrived from her university to stay home with us, and I brought her with me on these daily outings to the other Inès. I introduced her to the community, and with her name causing a sensation, she immediately became part of the gang. From March to July, we shared this precious time and place together.

Finally, in August, like a lot of restaurants in New York, they were able to set a beautiful terrace in front of the café, and I spent the whole summer sipping my delicious iced lattes with oat milk and taking my routine up again, reading, writing, and chatting outside but staying close to the hustle and bustle of the place.

I can say now that Inès represents an essential part of my life and of the New York experience I appreciate every day. Having coffee in New York City is being in touch with this lively, warm, and welcoming part of the city. I feel privileged to have found such an ideal spot, and I am happy to have created this extension of my family circle. Today, I cannot conceive my life without it. Having coffee in New York City is much more than simply drinking a cup of coffee; it is going to a place that is an extension of what I call home.

To listen to Laeticia read her story or read more stories, click here!

Share this:

Literacy Review Revisited, Again

Here’s another story from Literacy Review Volume 19, this time by Advanced Writing Class student Lichan (Chloe) Yu

Mirror

by Lichan (Chloe) Yu

Some like it, because it owns beauty. Some avoid it, because it is straightforward. Some even want to break it. I look in the mirror thousands of times before I go out. I adjust my makeup on my face so many times. Why can’t I get the look I want? This could ruin my whole new day. What you see in the mirror is your shadow. When you smile, it will smile back. When you cry, it will cry back. When you frown, absolutely you will see an ugly face. A mirror is only one plane, it has no way to conceal any faults. But with it, you can discover your beauty, experience your beauty, and make beauty.

In our lives, we all like to clarify others’ shortcomings and hardly ever see the advantages. This makes our relationships far apart. When I stand at the crosswalk while the red light is still on, I observe people around me. Are they satisfied with the way they look? Those diverse sad and happy faces can barely conceal themselves. What have they been through? What makes them so disappointed or so grateful? Life contains sweet, sour, bitter, and spicy. The mirror reflects this as well.

To listen to audio of the story or to read more stories, click here!

Share this:

Literacy Review Revisited

Literacy Review Volume 19 is out now! Here’s one story by University Settlement Adult Literacy Program W1 student Cesar Rojas

Eleven Pets in the House

by Cesar Rojas

The house where I grew up was in an urban area, but it was a very large house with four rooms and a backyard that was also really large. My mom loved animals, but at one time, things got out of control. We had two cats and two dogs. Then, in the same year, they all agreed to get pregnant. The cat had four kittens, and the dog had three puppies. We had eleven pets now in the house. You can’t imagine the noise the dogs made barking and the cats made running on the roof every night.

Since then, I haven’t wanted to have animals anymore.

To listen to Cesar read his story or to read more stories, click here!

Share this:

Literacy Review Volume 19

The new edition of the Literacy Review is out! The Literacy Review is an annual collection of writing from adult education programs throughout New York City, and it is produced by the NYU Gallatin Writing Program. This year it is available digitally along with audio of the authors reading their work, and four University Settlement Adult Literacy Program students have their writing featured: Evelyn Gonzalez, Laeticia Blanchard, Cesar Rojas, Lichan (Chloe) Yu, and Jackie Leduc. Congratulations, writers!

Click here or on the image above to begin reading!

Share this:

Writing Class & Literacy Review

Just sharing a class photo with you of our Advanced Writing Class which is taught on Fridays by NYU Gallatin Professor June Foley. In this class, students read, share, and discuss their writing. NYU Gallatin publishes a yearly Literacy Review of writing from adult education students around New York City. Literacy Review Number 19 will be available later this spring, and several University Settlement Adult Literacy Program students will have their writing published in it. It will be available in print on a limited basis and also online – so in the meantime check out Literacy Review Number 18 by clicking here or on the image below. There’s audio too!

Share this:

Remember for the Third Time

Here’s yet another story from Remember, a collection of student writing from our Advanced Writing Class taught by NYU Gallatin Professor June Foley.

To Madison, Who Asked Why I Write

Marília Valengo

Today, I write mainly to breathe. It wasn’t always like this, or maybe it was, but only now I realize the importance, for me, of writing. After some time, even things that one doesn’t choose end up being part of one’s life. Therefore, today, I would say I write to keep myself alive. I recognize how bold this statement sounds. I don’t like to admit the seriousness of this subject. It sounds a little desperate, making a confession that strong. I’ve never thought of myself as someone radically committed to a “life or death” idea, but I guess I’ve gotten to a point where I need, once and for all, to rely on something. That is writing. All this nonsense makes me think that I also write to understand life; not only life, but existence.

Yet, saying I just want to understand is very vague; I don’t really recognize the deep meaning behind it. I am not searching for words just to translate whatever I am feeling or seeing. It’s more like modeling, like an engineer does. The more I think about words, the less I see them divided between sound and meaning. To me, words are pieces from a Lego box, available to any child who wants to play and build whatever they desire. I like being this child, writing things and creating possibilities.

I also write to control my own story. It’s my narrative; I’m the agent behind the facts. It’s ironic when, at some point, I realize that as much as I try to keep things organized, I always end up at a new starting point, knowing nothing. Sometimes, I feel like I’m becoming crazy. On the other hand, without words, I would never stay sane. It’s so contradictory. If only I was a little bit more succinct. The thing is, nothing moves me more than blank pieces of paper, a little notebook with pens and pencils. When I read a good sentence, when I learn a new figure of speech, when I see writing so good it makes my mind stop working, I feel this love invade me. It’s like I am facing the primordial, the basic goodness of us all. I just want to do the same.

Here in New York, I have been writing specifically to not lose track of who I really am. As an immigrant, I find it more and more complicated to locate myself while I roll from one culture to another, shaking the moss off my identity’s surface whenever a new aspect suddenly appears. I have also been writing to reconceptualize what culture, belonging, longing, and loving are.

If I had to choose just one answer, though, I would say I write mainly because I love words. I love words until the point that they are not necessary. I love words because even better than them is silence, but without the first I would never be able to know the second. So I write to maybe one day run out my need to say things.

To read more, click here.

Share this:

Remember Again

File:Triples-ma-jiang.JPG - Wikimedia Commons

Here’s another story from Remember, a collection of student writing from our Advanced Writing Class taught by NYU Gallatin Professor June Foley:

Crazy Family Time

Qiao Zhuang (Grace) Zhang

       When my husband came back from work at night, I felt like I was facing a formidable enemy. I put on gloves, wore my mask, carried my two-percent diluted bleach water, and sprayed it on his hands, hat, coat, pants, shoes, lunch bag, etc. And then as he entered the house and went to take a shower, I sprayed everything he could possibly have touched. I alerted my kids to keep a social distance from him. I doubted if it would be okay for him to eat at the table, or if he should just stay in his room without coming out. As time went by, I accepted this new normal. If things happen, they happen. I can’t be like a crazy spinning top, sanitizing all day.

       According to my sixth sense, I got a mahjong set before our quarantine. I taught Jason to play; he picked it up quickly. Irene was like a scholar; she asked too many questions to learn. Mahjong is usually played by four people. As my husband was blessed to have shortened his business hours, I asked him to join us last night. He said he wanted to sleep after eating. Jason was watching his screen on the couch. I told Jason that his father was lying; he wanted to lie in bed watching TV and his phone simultaneously. I asked Jason to set up the cushion carpet on the table, and I poured out mahjong cards from a box. I said we would play four games, so each one of us could possibly win once. Three of us sat down and started to stack the cards in front of us. Irene was still on her Apple computer while texting on her phone. Father said she studied hard to get into the Ivy League. I said two Apples would kick her doctor’s degree away. She finally joined us.

       Father won the first game. I won the second. Irene won the third game. So we hoped Jason would win the fourth, and everybody could switch back to their own screen time. Father put down his cards and claimed he won again. I examined his cards, and found he had too many twos. According to my knowledge, he didn’t win. But he insisted. I took a picture, and shared it with my friend groups. Immediately, they responded that he didn’t win. We continued the game, and I won. I said we wouldn’t stop the game until Jason could win once. Irene won the fifth game. I asked Jason if he didn’t win because he didn’t get the special card. He said he didn’t. I said we would change the rule for him. We would change the special card until he got one. I drank a little. I joked a lot. I observed I had less self-repression after drinking. I enjoyed the freedom of being half-drunk. Jason said, “You’re high.” I believe all of us will remember this special family time, as I don’t recall many four-people moments in my married life. I wish we could create more love moments in our future.

To read more, click here.

Share this: