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.
by Yasmine Alwan on June 12, 2014 in Paths To MCNY with No Comments »
Following the devastating earthquake in Haiti on January 12, 2010, I was selected with five other Haitian students to come to New York and study Emergency and Disaster Management at MCNY to help Haiti for future disasters. I was very excited because it was one of my dreams to study in the U.S. But when I took a seat in class, I could barely understand what was said because the way I used to pronounce words was completely different from the way there are pronounced in the United States.
During that first week, I submitted my first assignment for my writing class to my writing professor. She gave me back the paper and said that she was not able to grade because she did not understand it. At that moment, I felt I was going straight toward failure in that Master’s program. I could read in the professors’ eyes that we were a casting mistake.
During our welcoming ceremony at Borough Hall, I made a speech that made everyone clap their hands. At that moment, I realized my chance to succeed in the program was not over, but I was at the beginning of a challenging journey. I knew my failure would have been a failure for my country and giving up was not an option. It was one of the greatest challenges of my life. Therefore, I decided to read more, take ESL classes, make the MCNY library my new home, and go to the LEC to improve my writing. At the end of the semester, I had an A for my writing class. And now, I just finished my first novel: I Dare You To Try It, that will be published soon. Thanks to LEC.
I was shy because of my accent, but Prof. Motola advised me to speak up. So I became more confident in my presentations. Some professors especially Prof. Chuck Frank and Prof. Mick Maurer, challenged us regardless of our origin, which built our capabilities. The college also organized a trip to Chile where we gained more knowledge and skills in disasters. I was very proud of my 3.83 total GPA.
What really makes MCNY special is the way the staff empower students with knowledge, skills, and self-confidence. A special thanks to God, my family, the Council Member, Matthieu Eugene, and MCNY. It was a wonderful experience for me at MCNY. The MCNY staff (admission, financial aid, registrar, LEC, etc…), my classmates, and my professors were amazing.
by Yasmine Alwan on May 12, 2014 in Paths To MCNY with No Comments »
Written by Mr. Radcliff, Jr. for the LEC blog.
Living in the Now
I would be lying if I were to say I didn’t enjoy my past lifestyle of drinking and drugging and then acting a fool while under the influence.
Yes, it began as a social thing, but ended terribly as I look back.
If you were to ask me today if it was by coincidence, pure luck, or a change from within myself that had awakened me to reality, I would have told you that it was neither one of these, but God intervening.
First of all, I don’t believe in luck.
Second, coincidences come and go.
And third, the only change I counted on had to be silver coins and/or green bills in order to get that next drink and/or drug.
I wasn’t quite sure whether I was ready to take on college after I completed a treatment program. I mean, sure, I had already obtained my G.E.D. diploma, as well as, a CASAC-T, but I could not remain abstinent from my addiction.
It took 8 years, a loss of some good friends that died from drug and/or alcohol addiction and finding myself homeless, that I cried out to my Higher Power, whom I choose to call God, for forgiveness and a way out of living prodigal.
I didn’t know Human Services, the course I chose, would involve so much, but through rigorous studying, and with the help of my class instructors, my classmates and the resources the college offers, I can say I did kind of good in Purpose One.
As I made mention earlier about luck, coincidences and how neither one of these words had any effect on my life, I do thank God for giving me the opportunity for the chance of making a life for myself.
I’ve come to the realization that the world never promises you a rose garden, for you have to put in the work, and as my father once told me, and I quote, “Nothing comes to a dreamer, but a dream,” unquote.
Now, I don’t know just how far I’ll be going in college, but I do want to at least obtain my Associate’s degree in Human Services. As I mentioned earlier, expecting the unexpected is what keeps me focused.
by Yasmine Alwan on April 8, 2014 in Must Reads with No Comments »
This NYT article, “Students See Many Slights as Racial ‘Microagressions’,” explores a trend in discussions at US colleges about racism. Social workers have been talking about microagressions for years and anyone who has experienced racism already knows exactly what a microagression is: a communication that occurs on the subtle level of gesture, tone, or implication. Students have begun pointing to this micro-level of action rather than overt and direct demeaning statements, opening up conversations about what constitutes racism. Of course, this has stoked some controversy, as this article seems eager to note. Strikes me that the author has some doubt and to be fair, determining someone else’s “true intention” can be a tricky affair. But to deny the existence of this form of aggression strikes this reader as possibly more dangerous.
by Yasmine Alwan on April 1, 2014 in Must Sees with No Comments »
Mischel’s well-known study invited children to refuse a marshmallow with the prospect that successful resisting would mean two marshmallows later! The results lead us to consider – somewhat controversially – the nature of willpower. Is it learned? Is it innate? A mix? Can we make a prediction about a person’s life outcomes based on how they interact with a marshmallow at age four? This Radiolab audio podcast explores here.
by Yasmine Alwan on February 26, 2014 in Paths To MCNY with No Comments »
Bahareh Ehsasiyan was born in Tehran. Because of her father’s political views, her family left Iran when she was baby and they immigrated to Germany. Her parents did not know German when they arrived and they had to start “from zero.” Since she was a child, she had a dream to come to America – of coming to a new culture like her parents. She did not get good grades in English though, which proved to be an opportunity much later when she realized that she could come to the US to study. So she came to MCNY, although she found herself fearful to come without her family, to not know the language well and to feel unfamiliar with new expectations. She has decided to speak only English with her German friends even though they want to only speak German; she googles every word she doesn’t understand when she’s reading – which can take a very long time! She is very proud of the fact that all of her grades are A’s. She says, “Sometimes, you have to take a risk – even if you fall, you have to get up and fight – to live for your dreams.”