Category Archives: Student Writing

More Money Stories

Here’s another money story, this time from Class 3P. Read it, take the quiz afterwards, read more!

My Debit Card

Noelia Cardoso

When I first got my ATM/debit card, I tried to use it many times, but I was very scared because I had no experience in this method of paying with a card. I went to the Rite Aid Pharmacy. I was ready to pay for my things and I was waiting for my turn, but when I had to use my debit card I didn’t know how to swipe my card. But the cashier helped me and was patient with me. Then she asked me, “Would you like cash back?” I didn’t understand but I said “Yes’’ and she gave me forty dollars and my things. I was so happy that she gave me money.

When I was at home, I told my husband and he said the money was not free. It was from my checking account. It was a big surprise for me. I was confused. I thought I wouldn’t use my card again. Then every time I went shopping I always paid with cash, but one time I didn’t have the amount in cash, so I had to use my debit card again. After that I continued to use my card.


To read more, click here.

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Money Stories

Classes 3A & 3P recently wrote stories about money. Read one below, take the quiz afterwards to test your understanding, and read more by clicking on the link.

First Time Earning Money in the U.S.

Sen Liang Lin

During my first winter in the U.S., I was a seminary student. I lived in New Jersey, I rented a house there. One day my friend told me, “A big snow will come.” I really hoped the snow would come because in my hometown it never snowed. In the afternoon, I saw many white things come down from heaven. I was very happy. I walked in the white road, I threw the snow to hit trees, and I took many photos. After thirty minutes, I felt a chill and I ran back inside. I called my friends in China and told them it was snowing. I was very happy that night because I had never seen snow.

The next morning, I woke up to see that it was white outside, and that the snow had stopped. I wanted to go out, but I couldn’t see the road. I couldn’t walk on the snow. I saw my neighbors were cleaning the snow. I thought I would go to clean the driveway, so I found a tool to clean the snow. It took me about three hours to clean up my driveway.

My landlord came in the afternoon, and he saw the clear driveway and he asked me who did it. I told him that it took me three hours to clean it up. Then he said to me, “Thank you.” I told him this was my first time to clean up the snow. I was very tired. He left for half an hour and when he come back, he brought me an envelope. I opened it and saw $200. I asked him, “What do you mean?” He told me that I deserved it. I was very happy. This was the first time I earned money in the United States. This is something I’ll never forget.


To read more, click here.

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Another School Story

Here’s another school story for you, courtesy of Class 3P. When you’re finished, test your comprehension by taking the quiz!

My Favorite Teacher

Zujia Wang

Mr. Yan was my favorite teacher when I was in high school. I’ll always remember him. He taught Chinese very well. He always came to class on time. He wore glasses and spoke very loudly. He explained Chinese words very clearly. He taught us how to write a beautiful article and corrected it very strictly. After class, he liked to spend time with students. Every student liked to tell him their secrets and got his help. Many years have gone away and I still miss him. More than ten years ago, we classmates went to his house and said good luck to him. He was very happy, but his eyes didn’t see anything. He touched our faces although we were old, too. A few years ago, he died. We were sad. I’ll always remember my favorite teacher—Mr. Yan! He always lives in my heart!


To read more stories, click here!

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School Stories

Classes 3A & 3P recently wrote about their experiences in elementary, middle, and high school. Enjoy one story here then take the quiz the test your comprehension.

A  Flood in Our School

Li Lian Liang

In my first year of high school, there was a big flood in our city. Before the flood came, my classmates and I were very worried. We stayed in our dormitory and listened to the flood news on the radio. We didn’t have class for several days. We called our families. We all wanted to leave the school, but we didn’t have the guts to go out because we knew the flood was coming. Also it was raining. It rained heavier and heavier.

On the third night, the water started coming into our school. The water went over the campus, and flooded the first floor. One of our classmates woke everybody up and said, “Go, go! The water is flooding our dormitory!” We all got up immediately. We ran to the mountain behind our school. It was still raining. We all got wet and we were very scared.

The next morning the rain stopped and it turned sunny. The water started to retire. We went back to our school. There was a lot of mud covering the floors. We couldn’t walk easily in the mud. We had to clean all the dirty and wet stuff. Some of the stuff we couldn’t use any more. We were all very upset about the flood.  We wished the flood would not come any more.


To read more stories, click here!


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Unique and Incomparable Poetry


Here are a few poems from Unique and Incomparable, the latest collection of student writing from the University Settlement Adult Literacy Program and the NYU Gallatin Writing Program:

Bettina Ockoumou

I miss the sound of the bells of Notre Dame.
I miss the rainbow of flowers from the Tuileries Garden.
I miss the evening strolls on the Alma Bridge.
I miss the lights of the Champs Elysees.
I miss the view from the top of the Eiffel Tower.
I miss the picnics on the Seine banks.
I miss the afternoons at the Louvre Museum.
I miss Paris.
But I’m not sad
Because in New York I have so many places to discover,
And even more memories to build.


Kelly Chen

I used to wear a t-shirt and jeans in the fall in China.
Now, I need to wear a light jacket in the fall in New York.
I used to go to the grocery store to buy fresh vegetables and fruits every day after work in China.
Now, I need to prepare a whole week of food on the weekend in New York.
I used to meet my friends very often in China.
Now, I need to make an “appointment” with my friends first, and meet once or twice a month in New York.

I used to chat with my neighbors for a long time in China.
Now, I often stop by and say hi and then shut the door in New York.
Our life is changing everyday. I wish I could change the bad things and keep the good things.
I used to wear a t-shirt and jeans in the fall in China.
Now, I need to wear a light jacket in the fall in New York.
I used to go to the grocery store to buy fresh vegetables and
fruits every day after work in China.
Now, I need to prepare a whole week of food on the weekend in New York.

I used to meet my friends very often in China.
Now, I need to make an “appointment” with my friends first, and meet once or twice a month in New York.
I used to chat with my neighbors for a long time in China.
Now, I often stop by and say hi and then shut the door in New York.
Our life is changing every day. I wish I could change the bad things
and keep the good things.


Lorena Mejia

To my dear earth
Who I love with all my heart
I want to dedicate these words
I wish that this sounds like a song
Green valleys, a blue sky, cover the beautiful scene
From the highest top I close my eyes and I can feel
I’m fortunate here
When the sky cries, the flowers smile
Because I think they’re feeling alive
Who says it is always sadness’s tears?
The sky was just joking to wet the earth
How can you forget the big oceans when you see a map?
The people think there are many fantastic creatures inside
Let’s take care of our only home
Love the earth as if it was your own child


Qiong (June) Zhou

Manhattan, New York
You have strong modern city features
Like the new World Trade Center and the Statue of Liberty
Rockefeller Center and the grand bridges
The Empire State Building and Times Square
The headquarters of the United Nations and Central Park
You with your unique temperament
Standing at the top of the American economy and culture
The light of freedom shines to the whole world
Along with urban growth, the spirit of the city
Manhattan, New York
There is food that lets you taste all over the world
Here are leading works of art that take people’s breath away
There are many museums and exhibitions
They can make your view and vision big and extensive
Despite the world recession and
The 9/11 terrorist attacks here
You, the unyielding spirit of the urban
Mixed with dazzling neon lights
Let the city of the world shine on the stage
This is Manhattan, New York
A unique, glamorous, infinite city


To read more, click here.

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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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Another Subway Story

Here’s another story about the subway written by one of our Class 1B students. When you finish reading, take the quiz to test your comprehension!

The New York Subway Experience

Xiu Ying Lin (Lisa)

Time to work. I took the train the train to 34th Street, and there were many people on the train. I heard some strange sounds. From the direction of the sounds I saw a white guy in his thirties. He was tall and thin and he was standing in the middle of the train. He was wearing a light blue suit and khaki pants. He looked well-dressed and clean. He looked like a Wall Street office worker.

But when he spoke his mouth twitched to one side, and saliva almost flowed out. His tongue made it hard for him to speak and he spoke slowly with a lot of difficulty, one word by one word coming out. His left elbow and wrist were bent. His left leg was lame too.

“I had a stroke a month ago. I lost my job. I don’t have money to pay rent and no money to buy food. Please help me, help me, help me…” He looked sad. As he slowly spoke, his lame leg slowly moved. His mouth, hand, and leg twitched all at the same time. So sad: so young to have a stroke. My heart felt uncomfortable. I gave him one dollar.

I walked out of the station and I walked on 34th Street. Suddenly I saw a face. It was the subway disabled guy. But right now he was no longer lame. He was walking faster than me. His body didn’t twitch anymore. He looked handsome because his mouth wasn’t twisted to one side anymore and he didn’t look sad. He was very happy with his friends, talking on the street. Later I saw him go into a pharmacy. I was amazed. My goodness, he was a wonderful actor!

After a few weeks, on the same train, I saw him again. He was acting again. Why did he choose this job? “Help me, help me…” I felt my heart was uncomfortable again. Should I or should I not give him money again? Just one dollar.


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