Tag Archives: new york city

Literacy Review Preview

Here’s a video from the Writing Program at NYU Gallatin featuring some of the writers from the new Literacy Review, which will be published next month. And watch for University Settlement Adult Literacy Program student Marilia Valengo!:

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A Real Nets Experience

Here’s a video from Mourad Chalal featuring some University Settlement Adult Literacy Program students and staff. Mourad is a Fulbright Fellow who comes to us from ASCA (Association des Centres Sociaux d’Aulnay-sous-Bois), one of our partners in France. He will be spending the next 6 months with University Settlement, and he is interested in learning everything he can about our work and communities. Here’s more from Mourad himself:

After 10 years of classical guitar teaching and a couple of years as a public relation agent I started to work with community members in a community centers organization in a city called Aulnay-sous-Bois situated in the outskirts of Paris. I have been working on group activities, social support, public information and most importantly raising awareness and educating the community on issues of discrimination. 

Our programs target difficult urban and deprived areas of Aulnay-sous-Bois with the aim of promoting the community centers’ values and bolstering people’s abilities to affect change within their communities.  In addition, our organization focuses on helping families and individuals achieve their wellness, education and cultural goals. I strongly believe that we fundamentally have more things in common than we have differences, and that it is important to cross race, gender, ethnicity, class and geographical borders. All forms of illegal discrimination must indeed be fought. The inhabitants of our disadvantaged neighborhoods are exposed to discrimination based on their origins in employment, housing, education, religious practices etc. My faith in the dignity of each individual leads me in my social commitments. That is why the anti-discrimination program I lead addresses the topic of citizenship and the fundamental values of the community centers which include: respect for diversity, intercultural and inter-religious dialogue, freedom and human rights, and a focus on seeking solutions to empower vulnerable people.

The goal is to inform and raise awareness among community members and policy makers about how discrimination influences the daily life of its victims. The activities of the program in Aulnay-sous-Bois and abroad develop the capacity of minorities to develop their competencies in the fields of lobbying and advocacy. The orientation of our program is to promote the importance of discriminated people’s opinion in the process of decision-making at local, national and international levels. To achieve this, I do my best to run international exchanges between community members and organizations. Together we are stronger!

To visit Mourad’s website, click here or go to www.mourad-chalal.com.

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Life on the Lower East Side Revisited Again

Here’s another essay based on a photo by Jacob Riis from our New York Rising classes. These were written as part of their Life on the Lower East Side Project, in which students were asked to write a short essay from the viewpoint of someone in the photo.

A NEW IMMIGRAANT

by Vicky Qiu

I am an immigrant from Italy. I came here by ship. Now I live on Bayard Street in the tiny basement of a dirty tenement. Did you know that I live in a room with no windows and insufficient air?

I always wonder why this place is in such bad condition. I make my own bed with two barrels and a long piece of wood. I also have this dirty mattress that looks like it has never been washed, but that’s the best I could find.

Last night, when I was sleeping a few rats climbed into my bed. It was disgusting. When I need to use the toilet, I go outside because there is no toilet in my room. The toilet that I use is also the toilet that everybody in the tenement house uses. There is also no hot water where I live.

I work in a clothing factory. Sometimes I work overtime but the boss of the company doesn’t always pay me the amount that I worked overtime and I wonder why. I don’t want to complain because he might fire me.  Though I live in such a bad condition, I know that I live in a condition that is better than some other people in New York City have who sleep in a spot with more than twenty people in a room.

Click here to read more.

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Family Literacy Night

Last Thursday some of our University Settlement Adult Literacy Program students brought their family along for dinner, reading, hands-on activities, and a book giveaway featuring the beloved Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr. and Eric Carle. They had the opportunity to engage with their peers in an interactive and entertaining environment to support their continued growth as readers. Thanks to Families United for Learning and Literacy and Jacob A. Riis Neighborhood Settlement House for arranging and hosting this great event!

Here are some more photos:

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Life on the Lower East Side Revisited

Here’s another essay based on a photo by Jacob Riis from our New York Rising classes. These were written as part of their Life on the Lower East Side Project, in which students were asked to write a short essay from the viewpoint of someone in the photo.

A DIFFICULT LIFE

by Joyce Mei

You are looking at an alley with laundry hanging in the background.  There is a man in the center of the picture whose back is turned to us and there are also laundry lines hanging above.  At the bottom of the picture on the right side, there is a mother who is hugging a baby and a little girl who is seated right next to them.

There is another lady who is facing us, too. On the left side, a little boy is looking at us and someone, whose back is facing us, is working on something.  Even though there are garbage bags next to all of them, the place looks like their home and it seems like there is a family living there.  It also looks like it is a very bad environment, especially for a baby.

My whole family is in this picture.  I am the little boy who is standing on the left side in this picture and I am nine years old. This place is our home.  We just rented it a few days ago because my parents couldn’t afford an apartment.  We are new immigrants.  My mother is hugging my little brother and he’s three months old.  My sister is sitting right next to my mother, my father is trying to organize and clean up the space, and my grandma is looking around.

All of us are exhausted and starving because my father used all of our money to rent this spot so we would have a place to sleep tonight.  He is still looking for a job.  Even though I am nine years old, I really want to earn money to help support my family.  I saw a good street corner out there where I can shine people’s shoes, so I will definitely work harder to achieve this job!

Click here to read more.

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Free Cooking Class!

Here’s the location on Google Maps:

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NY Rising Presents: Life on the Lower East Side

Life on the Lower East Side, 1850-1910

University Settlement’s New York Rising students spent last year learning how to be prepared for emergencies such as hurricanes, power outages, transportation disruptions and severe snowstorms.  Now, they are looking back in time and will explore three major disasters that impacted the lives of immigrants living on the Lower East Side of New York City…our very own University Settlement neighborhood.  They will learn about the great heat wave of 1896, the sinking of the USS Slocum in the East River, and the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire.

While each of these historic events resulted in the loss of hundreds of lives, they also resulted in changes to laws that still impact our lives today at home and in the workplace.   However, before we looked at each event, the students began to learn in greater detail what life was like for a newly arrived immigrant…perhaps someone like you…who arrived not knowing how to speak English, not knowing where their family was going to live, and not knowing how they were going to earn a living.  Fortunately for us, reformer Jacob Riis was on the scene with his camera, documenting the conditions of those living on the Lower East Side.  So today we can see exactly how difficult and challenging their lives were.

University Settlement played a major part in helping new immigrants back in the 1880s and 1900s, just as it does today. You can learn more by clicking here.

The students each chose one of the photos published by Jacob Riis and were asked to write a short essay from the view point of someone in the photo.  We hope you enjoy their essays. Read one below and click here or on the link below to read more:

LIFE IS SO HARD

by Ada Huang

From the 1850’s through the early 1900’s, thousands of immigrants arrived in the United States and lived in New York City. I was the one of them.

My name is Nolan and I am 40 years old. I came from Ireland. I am very poor. I live in an old building on the Lower East Side of Manhattan where rents for the crowded apartment buildings are low. There are 20 families living in my building, 4 on each floor. I live in a tiny room with 7 unmarried men. The room is dark, dirty and without windows. I only have one desk, one chair and one plank to sleep on. I have to put the plank on the desk and the chair back to make my bed at night and then put the plank away next to the wall during the day. Otherwise, there is no space.

The building is dark and airless because the buildings are packed close together. Some buildings are built in the yard between the front and the back of other buildings. We all sleep on the roof on hot summer nights even though it is dangerous. There is no electric lighting in the building. We only use gas lanterns to light the apartment at night and there is also no running water inside the apartment. We have to get water from an outside pump and everyday we have to share the one indoor toilet in the hallway. You can’t imagine how long we have to wait for the toilet every day, especially in the morning. We have to go to a public bath once a week to take a shower.

I worked for a very small coal company delivering coal. I worked 10 hours a day and 7 days a week. I needed to carry heavy containers of coal to the customers every day. Sadly, I lost my job a few days ago. Now, I only have a few pennies and a loaf of bread left. If I don’t find a new job soon, my landlord will kick me out.  What a hard life!

Click here to read more.

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