by Yasmine Alwan on January 6, 2015 in Paths To MCNY with No Comments »
When I was a kid, my mom brought me to the Women’s Talent Corps, which was how I first got familiar with the College for Human Services. My mother was a barmaid on a 125th street at the time, and somehow she got plugged into the Women’s Talent Corps program that Audrey Cohen had started. My dad was an alcoholic who prided himself on being the first “Negro” in the NY city post office – he had a congressional award that he had over his bed that he always used to point out. After the divorce and the domestic violence with my dad, my mom decided that she wanted to do something with herself, and wanted to be a paralegal. She was self-educated, only having a sixth grade education, but she was determined that she was somebody.
There was a lot of talk, these new terms going around, like “empowerment” – that’s what pulled folks to gravitate towards going after the American dream. What they were saying was that education was going to be the way.
I am at MCNY and it feels like a natural order of things. I got my BPS and now I am getting my MBA. My mother came through the system (MCNY) and I look up to her. She was my first role model. It was all about making my parents proud of me, because if they were proud of me, that’s what made me happy.
MCNY’s whole-system approach, the idea that there were a bunch of systems intertwined, was new for me. There was a lot of energy floating around the college. There were a lot of people who looked like me, who had the same values that I had, and some of us even shared the same culture, so I could feel comfortable here. It was a nontraditional, experiential – I didn’t know the term “hands-on” until I got here! I started college at a late age and was very fearful of starting school. There were a lot of people who were also adult learners and that helped me anchor myself here. Some of the professors I met made me feel like I could do it. I am a fearful person, and I always wonder if I can share the same space with educated people, often feeling inadequate. When I got here, there were a lot of positive people and my negative self-talk began to disappear. I started growing, and thinking out of the box. I wasn’t so shallow, with the-I’m-black-and-you’re-white mentality. MCNY has played a role in helping me grow up. If I hadn’t come here, I’d probably still be doing barbering on 129th Street and Lenox in my small, small world.
by Yasmine Alwan on December 12, 2014 in Must Reads with 1 Comment »
In The Case for Black With a Capital B, Lori Thorps considers the evolution of the descriptor “Black.” In particular, she unfolds how political and cultural disenfranchisement — that is, racism — has been reflected in rules of capitalization in the US.
by Yasmine Alwan on October 28, 2014 in Must Sees with No Comments »
Here’s an NPR audio piece about poet and scholar Jamila Lyiscott. She explores the different meanings of being called “articulate” as an African American who speaks highly polished, academic language.
by Yasmine Alwan on October 14, 2014 in Must Reads with No Comments »
What if success isn’t about “doing it right” and is instead about one’s ability to tolerate failure? As this New York Times article “What if the Secret to Success Is Failure?” by Paul Tough details, at the prestigious private school Riverdale Country School, the headmaster champions characteristics such as grit, curiosity, and zest over specific academic skills as the true route to achievement.
by Yasmine Alwan on October 2, 2014 in Must Sees with No Comments »
Some facts and figures from Harper’s Index (September, 2014) regarding education, race, national energy politics and more. A statistician’s dreamboat! Possibly profound, disturbing and hilarious for the rest of us.
by Yasmine Alwan on August 15, 2014 in Must Reads with No Comments »
In New York Times article, “Taking Fares, and Writing in Between,” Rohter (2014) shows how Syrian poet-in-exile Osama Alomar does just that from the driver’s seat of his cab in Chicago. A pile of dictionaries ride along with him in the front seat, and a notebook at the ready. Writer Lydia Davis calls his work “very imaginative and vivid and exhilarating,” and I find his grit and dedication also an exhilarating reminder of what little moments can add up to.
by Yasmine Alwan on August 14, 2014 in Must Sees with No Comments »
At first glance, the picture below might seem familiar –an old map of the Amazon River and its tributaries. Looking more closely, you may find this map increasingly curious… Armenia? Spain? Athens? Along the Amazon? In fact, this image is from the first text book for American school children, a textbook written in 1824 by feminist and innovative educator, Emma Willard. She created this map and diagram for students to memorize European history, in this case the progression of the Roman Empire, by diagraming that expansion visually onto the course of the Amazon. If you click onto the map below, a link will take you to version of the map that you can zoom into and see much more clearly.
Some LEC students have found it helpful to do thought maps too — of a different kind — as an initial method of visually organizing their ideas. Below, you can find an example of a thought map (about thought mapping) from the internet. Click onto it to find a link.
And here is a picture of Aston Powell, BBA 2015, standing in front of his thought map.
by Yasmine Alwan on July 24, 2014 in LEC Scholars with No Comments »
What brought me to MCNY was conflict, failure, a lack of confidence, no sense of direction and an overall loss of self. Growing up in Bushwick, Brooklyn, I did not feel that others expected me to be successful and education was not emphasized. I was surrounded by drugs, gangs and violence. In 2013, I packed up and moved to Georgia in an attempt to reestablish my life. I moved into a suburban neighborhood with a friend who was very encouraging about the importance of an education and he took me around to colleges. We had an apartment together, but I didn’t have a driver’s license which was basically a necessity. I decided to come back to New York because of my financial situation, family and the convenience of transportation. I came to MCNY to better myself and to be a role model for my nieces and nephews. My passion for helping people drew me the human services program.
by Yasmine Alwan on July 10, 2014 in Must Reads with No Comments »
“I write in order to peruse myself” – Henri Michaux
“Writing can be an artificial arena where we mash the world into a shape we can stand to look at.” –Tim Kreider
From Approaches to What?
…In our haste to measure the historic, significant and revelatory, let’s not leave aside the essential: the truly intolerable, the truly inadmissible. What is scandalous isn’t the pit explosion, it’s working in coalmines. ‘Social problems’ aren’t ‘a matter of concern’ when there’s a strike, they are intolerable twenty-four hours out of twenty-four, three hundred and sixty-five days a year.
Tidal waves, volcanic eruptions, tower-blocks that collapse, forest fires, tunnels that cave in, the Drugstore des Champs-Elysees burns down. Awful! Terrible! Monstrous! Scandalous! But where’s the scandal? The true scandal? Has the newspaper told us anything except: not to worry, as you can see life exists, with its ups and its downs, things happen, as you can see.
The daily papers talk of everything except the daily. The papers annoy me, they teach me nothing. What they recount doesn’t concern me, doesn’t ask me questions and doesn’t answer the questions I ask or would like to ask.
What’s really goind on, what we’re experiencing, the rest, all the rest, where is it? How should we take account of, question, describe what happens every day and recus every day: the banal, the quotidian, the obvious, the common, the ordinary, the infraoridnary, the background noise, the habitual?
To question the habitual. But that’s just it, we habituated to it. We don’t question, it it doesn’t question us, it doesn’t seem to pose a probme, we live it without thinking, as if it carried within it neither questions nor answers, as if weren’t the bearer of any information…What we need to question is bricks, concrete, glass, our table manners, our utensils, our tools, the way we spend our time, our rhythms. To question that which seems to have ceased forever to astonish us…
Describe your street. Describe another street. Compare.
Make an inventory of your pockets, of your bag. Ask yourself about the provenance, the use, what will become of each of the objects you take out…
-Georges Perec from Species of Spaces and Other Pieces published by Penguin Books, 1999
by Yasmine Alwan on June 17, 2014 in Must Sees with No Comments »
Click on the picture below for two minutes of glorious — and perhaps challenging — nothing. It might show you some things about yourself — at least, I had no idea how hard it was to settle my frisky fingers (and brain). Upon my return to the world, I felt much more ready to engage. Courtesy of Jaya Kanan, previous Coordinator of the LEC.