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Fall 2011

Center News CELEBRATING FIFTY YEARS OF SERVICE, 1961– 2011 OUR 50TH REUNION—A CELEBRATION

DISCOVERING E PLURIBUS UNUM: OUR WASHINGTON D.C. TRIP

On August 13, the International Center held its 50th Anniversary reunion of volunteers, members, and staff, past and present. Diehard supporters were not deterred by the sweltering heat of an August day. Eighty gathered at Periyali Restaurant on 20th Street for a Mediterranean feast, fellowship, and reminiscing with friends old and new. They travelled from as far as Canada and Brazil and promised to return. Our gratitude for getting us all together goes to Anna Petelka, whose unmatched talent for connecting people with people was once more on full display. Thank you, Anna. (Photos on page 2.)

By Majida Gouriech The variety of activities and a philosophy based on tolerance have made the International Center (IC) a popular destination for members and volunteers for the past five decades. It is also a perfect place for cultural and linguistic crossfertilization. In addition to helping newcomers to New York improve their English, the IC programs help them learn about American culture and customs. Organizing trips to different places is another advantage of the Center programs.

Open letter to all my friends from the International Center on the occasion of our 50th reunion By Adam Wroblenski Any time I come back to New York City I have this unique and somewhat surprising feeling: “I belong here.” The crowd on Midtown streets, the crazy traffic, the cosmopolitan flair with a dazzling variety of faces, cultures Adam Wroblenski and lifestyles and the kind of nonchalant but embracing acceptance of all of them, the unruliness which I like to call “creative chaos” – all of this energy makes NYC a place where 10 minutes after passing through the gates at the JFK Airport I may say: “This is my place.” So, it seems, NYC is a welcoming and friendly place that would embrace brave souls from every corner of the world. Well, it is like this to me now… but, when I first came to the City from my native Poland in 1989, it was quite a different experience. I had no family or friends here, and a place to stay was arranged just for a week. I was planning to study engineering, but my English skills were at a really bare minimum level. When I look back at my first months in America I can say that at that time I had more courage than common sense… And, a few times I had some good luck, the most important of which was that I read an article in a Polish newspaper about the International Center. The story sounded promising and I decided to stop by. That’s how one of the best experiences of my life started. The International Center has been a place perfectly designed to help people who come to New York as students, workers on temporary assignments, or immigrants. Obviously, learning English is the key part of what the Center offers. The level of classes varies from basic to studying the prominent works of English literature… yes, we read and analyzed Ulysses by James Joyce. (Thank you, Chris!) But it is not the language itself; it is also a chance to immerse oneself in the American culture that is on display in New York City in the most vibrant way. There have also been tours to various places in and out the City (Thank you, Lucie and Steve!) and tickets offered by various theatres. Still, as if all this was not enough, the Center provides an almost miraculous opportunity – a chance to meet people virtually from every country in the world, all in one place, in the Lounge of the International

In October, the Center organized a trip to Washington D.C., a real opportunity to discover new things about the American culture. Personally, I expected an interesting journey, as well as a real chance to have loads of fun. Upon arrival, we headed towards the US Capitol. At that moment I felt that the beating heart of our trip started. The mood of the trip had already set itself on everyone. Before we got to the entrance, we enjoyed capturing our group in front of the US Capitol façade in some stunning photographs. Once we had our passes, we were ready to start the tour. The first step was Out of Many, One, an inspirational introductory film about the Capitol building and the Congress. After the screening, a guide gave us a tour of the areas inside the Capitol. The rotunda's dome is fascinating. But what really caught my attention was the fresco painted on the interior of the Capitol's dome, titled The Apotheosis of Washington.* "The painting depicts George Washington becoming a god, surrounded by figures from classical mythology. Washington is flanked by the goddess Victoria to his left and the goddess Liberty to his right. Forming a circle

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Summer and Fall Events Our 50th Reunion Celebration ...Continued from page 1

Joe Lamb

Maria Darakhvelidze

Judith Gottfried

Elaine Roberts

Anna Petelka, Reunion Chair

Open letter…

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Center in New York City. What a great experience that is! I have a lot of great memories related to the International Center and I am very grateful to the countless volunteers and staff members who have helped to create and run the place. Opportunity to give is a gift in itself, but I also think that the experience of members and volunteers goes further – the guests are bringing their own understanding of the world and then the roles of volunteer-teacher and member-student can get blurred. I had a chance to be a part of the International Center, first as a member, then as a volunteer. I can say, without any hesitation, that if it were not for the International Center, I could not have achieved what I have achieved in my life and I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to be a part of it. For nearly seven years the Center was my home away from home and the place where I found not only support and friendship but also a lot of fun. In 1997 I followed a new opportunity and moved to Toronto, Canada, where I’m writing these words. Here I founded a software development company, Point Logic Inc., and running it is my main business activity since. But at the time of leaving NYC, I thought that it was just a temporary “recess” and I would be back in a couple of years. Well, it did not happen… my business and personal connections have developed in such a way that my roots had to, once again, re-grow. I’m very happy, however, if I have a chance to stop by in NYC on a business trip or just to visit my good old friends. And last summer there was quite a reason to go: The celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the International Center. A great idea! (Thank you, Anna!) The Old Guard, volunteers, visitors from Brazil and Europe – all gathered together for an excellent lunch and then a great evening. (Thank you, Dodi!) It was great to be back! Hopefully other events like this will follow. Thank you, my friends… and see you!

E Pluribus Unum: Washington D.C. trip... Continued from page 1

Mira Erickson, Alvera Cleary

Lorena Kourousias, Susan Lichter, Alice Gingold, Lilly Markovic

Beverly Brown Ruggia Doris Fontes, Steve Cooper, Efim Krishtal

Lucie Benedikt

between Liberty and Victory are 13 maidens, each with a star above her head, representing the original 13 colonies. Upside down above Washington is the banner E Pluribus Unum.” Then I turned my attention to the huge paintings in a 96-foot diameter circle that depict early American history such as Declaration of Independence and the Baptism of Pocahontas. Next we walked to the National Statuary Hall, which once was the chamber of the House of Representatives, but, because of the annoying echoes, a new hall was built. We enjoyed looking at many symbolic statues of prominent personalities who have made key contributions to their country. After we went through extra security screening, we ended our tour in the Senate chamber. The few minutes we stayed there I felt honored being in one of the most sophisticated places where historic decisions affecting American life were made. We left the US Capitol Building and headed to the National Museum of American History. The exhibit about transportation sparked our interest in other exhibitions. Through a large selection of objects, you can travel back in time and live in any bygone era you want. But what impressed me was both ‘America on the Move’ exhibition and ‘First Ladies’ gallery. While the first takes you on a fascinating journey to see the vital part of the nation's transportation system, the second looks at the way first ladies used to dress and it displays dozens of flashy accessories and fancy dresses. After being able to see most of the museum's sections, I could say that I truly gained a much better understanding of how the US has been able to build a solid civilization in a short time and I could picture a cultural and social mosaic of the old American life. Somehow it gave one more reason to respect and admire American culture and offered me a real chance to know new patterns of this culture. On our return, when we reached the city limits, New York City was glistening like a diamond necklace; it was a breathtaking view. Back home, I went straight to bed, dreaming of the 13 maids repeating "E PLURIBUS UNUM." *http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Apotheosis_of_Washington

Megan Maegher Page 2

Center News Fall 2011


Our New York Lives - Different Cultures and Challenges At registration for our September structured courses, we asked the members to write a placement essay on the following topics: 1. What do you think are some important differences between your culture and the culture of the United States? 2. Describe one of the most challenging or the most inspiring experiences you have had since you have been in New York. Here are some of their thoughts. For eight months I assisted a friend of mine, a Ph.D. student at Columbia University, who created software to help elementary school students grasp the concept of multiplication. As part of this research project, we visited three public schools in New York City and collected data. Through this experience, I understood one of the most important differences between the Japanese and the American culture: While Americans are willing to accept their differences, the Japanese tend to stifle a person’s individuality to avoid having to recognize any one person’s prominence. Here are three examples: First, in a public school in New York City, in a class for gifted children, students receive more advanced education than others, and each student has separate goals set by the teacher. In Japan, it is the government that controls basic education and teachers have to follow its guidelines. Second, while New York City is famous for its ethnic diversity, Japan is racially almost a homogeneous nation and discrimination towards minorities still exists. In the classroom, American students are proud of their roots, such as Korean, Greek, Chinese, Spanish, and so on, and they have respect for their differences. But for Japanese students, it is natural that all classmates are Japanese and foreign students don’t have a sense of belonging but feel alienated. Third, students with disabilities can take part in a regular school program while disabled students in Japan tend to be sent to special schools. In conclusion, I realized that there are obvious differences between the Japanese and American culture. Even though I cannot decide which culture is better, I hope the Japanese will deepen their understanding of cultural differences and widen their outlook. — Rie Ueda

Every country has its own culture and traditions so, I think, there are some important differences between my culture and the culture of the United States. For example, in Togo the way we treat children is different from the way children are treated here. In Togo, children are not allowed to look at their parents’ face when they are talking to them, while in the U.S. it is impolite for children not to look at their parents or other people when they are talking to them. In the U.S., people seem not to greet each other even if they live in the same neighborhood or the same building. In Africa, and in Togo, people are used to greeting each other all day long. In general, people are very individualistic in the U.S., while in Togo everybody seems to know what is happening in their neighbor’s home. But in spite of these differences, the two cultures have many things in common. — Ufuale Afola Amey

I have learned about the “I” culture which is uniquely American. In the “I” culture, individualism is considered to be the most important value. By contrast, many other countries, including Japan, have the “We” culture, where cooperation with others is more important. Japanese people are generally very shy and do not want to stand out. I am no exception. I am a typical shy, introverted person even in the Japanese society. I am always told not to be shy, and that I should overcome my shyness. However, I sometimes feel that it might be an American way of thinking. Shyness might be part of our culture. Though I know that it is a kind of excuse, I accepted my shyness as part of my personality. And now I feel better about it! — Rika Gomi

In my country, Colombia, customs are a little different from those of the United States. For example, in the area of family life, children are less independent than American children. This is dictated by the cultural values and family development that teach them to grow up close to their families. In Colombia, young people don’t leave home until they are adults. By contrast, in the United States, young people leave home early to go to college and often live in the university dorms. Of course, this life style produces independent people. In many areas, my country is more conservative than the U.S. For example, people are very religious, believing in the invisible power of the Almighty. This is less significant in the United States, where there is a separation of church and state. But the most important difference is the freedom: In my country, the opportunity to speak or think in ways different from those in power is dangerous. Here, in the United States, you have the freedom to think, speak, and express your ideas. — Cesar Almanza

There are many cultural differences between my country, Japan, and America, but I believe that the most important one is that American people have a more challenging spirit than the Japanese. For example, I have met many Americans who start new things regardless of their age and gender. One of my conversation partners, who is 80 years old, started a small business via skype. He teaches English to students who live abroad, in Singapore, Italy, Korea, and so on. Another example is a friend of mine who entered law school when she was 40, even though she had three little children at that time. She is now a successful lawyer. I am very pleased to meet people who always take on new challenges. I am influenced by them, and I started to do new things after I came to America. That’s why I like this country very much.

— Makiko Kinoto

New York City is a real cosmopolitan city. If you are a New Yorker, you don’t have to travel abroad to meet people from different cultures, they are all here in New York City. So what inspired me in New York is seeing people who come from the East, West, North, and South of the world. You can see the Indians, the Chinese, the Latin Americans, the Africans, and many others all practicing their own customs at the same time without any conflicts. That is what makes New York City great. On the other hand, it is not easy to make a living in New York — a challenge and a barrier for many — particularly so since the cost of living is extraordinarily high. But what inspired me the most in New York is volunteerism — how willing people are to help others through volunteering. — Ahmed El-Habashi

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Center News Fall 2011


Celebrating Our Center Community A Turning Point By Susan Martin Teaching English has always been an important part of my life. I’ll never forget the first time I invited a girl from Japan to my house when I was 12. She had just moved to New York from Tokyo, and English was very new to her. I was a little nervous, and asked my mother what we should do to be sure the day was fun for her. My mom said, “Just play! It will be great. You don’t need to speak the same language – just find something you both enjoy doing.” We did just that – we Susan Martin played a game with beautifully embroidered bean bags that she had brought from Japan, we baked cookies, and we made origami. We became fast friends and laughed a lot. It was my first lesson in teaching English. I saw firsthand that when you create a comfortable environment, people open up, and language flows naturally. I experienced this personally when I went on an exchange program to France when I was 17. I had only taken a year of French in high school, and I was very anxious about traveling so far from home. My host family put me immediately at ease, and welcomed me into their home as if I were family. We ate French food prepared by their grandmother, went fishing in the countryside, watched “Top Gun” in French, and read Asterix comic books with their little cousins. ___________________________________ My experience with immigrants in New York and traveling abroad sparked a lifelong curiosity for the world around me. ________________________________ Long after our exchange had ended, we wrote letters every month, and for birthdays we sent each other packages with mix tapes of our favorite French and English songs. Fifteen years later, I can pull many of the words I need in French from a treasure trove of films, songs, and good memories with friends. My experience with immigrants in New York and traveling abroad sparked a lifelong curiosity for the world around me. I majored in International Relations at the College of William and Mary and spent a semester learning German in Austria. I studied Japanese, Italian and took a semester of Russian, in addition to my courses in politics and economics. After I graduated, I moved to London to pursue a Master’s degree at the London School of Economics in Empires and Imperialism. Since 80% of my classmates were international students, I found myself making friends with people from Slovenia, India, Italy, Taiwan, Switzerland, and the Netherlands. It was truly an amazing experience and it inspired me even further to pursue an international career. I then worked as a global economic research analyst at a major investment bank in London and at a large hedge fund in New York. My job was to interview economists from all over the world and report to the senior portfolio manager of the fund on what I

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thought were the most important forces driving the global economy. It was a fascinating and challenging position, and my favorite part was talking with people from such different backgrounds. After 6 years in finance, I wanted to refocus on what I love doing most. I thought about the joy that I had found in learning languages and teaching English to newcomers to New York. I had spent a lot of time achieving my own goals, and I felt so lucky to have had the chance to see my dreams of studying and working abroad come true. I knew that my early success in learning French had given me a lot of selfconfidence, which had helped me to take on new challenges, enter new fields, and pursue new dreams. Maybe now I had gained enough experience to be helpful to others who were still trying to make their dreams a reality. When, at my wedding, a friend told me about the International Center, I thought it would be a good opportunity to make teaching English a new chapter in my life. The first time I walked into the lobby of the International Center, the very first thing I heard was laughter. The happy buzz seemed to reach down the hall and meet me as I stepped off the elevator. As I toured the center, I looked at the bulletin board filled with activities for members and volunteers. There was an arts and craft night, a board game event, a screening of a classic movie, a sign-up sheet for a field trip to “Uncle Nick’s,” one of my favorite Greek restaurants. The activities were designed to pull people out of their shells and to help them explore common interests. It fit perfectly with my image of the warm and positive atmosphere that is necessary for learning. ___________________________________ After six years in finance, I wanted to refocus on what I love doing most. I thought about the joy that I had found in learning languages. _________________________________ I also noticed advertisements for career seminars on résumé writing, offers for free meetings with immigration lawyers, and computer skills workshops. I was so impressed with the balance of creating a welcoming environment while still focusing on the serious business of succeeding in America. As I settled into life at the International Center over the subsequent weeks and months, it became clear to me that members and volunteers alike felt relaxed and at home there. I watched friendships form and networks grow. And I had the chance to develop important relationships with my own conversation and writing partners, who continue to teach and inspire me. I’m excited to be a teacher at the International Center. My students are smart, intellectually curious, and open, and they love to laugh. They come from a wide variety of backgrounds, and they all have their own unique gifts to offer. We have filmmakers, journalists, Ph.D.s in philosophy, professional musicians, engineers, nurses, accountants, you name it! Everyone is sharing the things that are most important to them, and English is the medium they use to take all these new experiences into their lives. It is as if the volunteers and members are engaging in one big international exchange program, and the International Center provides the “home.” When I plan my classes, I try to imagine what I would do if I were inviting my students into my living room. What music would we listen to? What TV shows would we watch? What current issue would we discuss over coffee? The byproduct of the activity is the language, but the activity itself has to be engaging, interesting, and memorable. My hope is that the language that develops from my classes will be something my students take with them for the rest of their lives.

Center News Fall 2011


Remembering… An Unforgettable Landscape in My Hometown

Outside My Window Majida Gouriech

By Rie Ueda My hometown is Yokohama City, a well-known port town. In fact, Commodore Matthew Perry’s fleet came to this port in 1854 to demand that the Japanese government open the country to foreign trade and diplomatic relations. It’s an hour from Tokyo by train. In contrast to Rie Ueda with her grandfather the metropolitan Tokyo, nature in Yokohama still remains intact. On the outskirts of my station, rice fields spread out. In spring, frogs were croaking. On a fine morning after a rain, earthworms were crossing a foot path between rice fields. My cat sometimes captured a frog or a rattlesnake. Then he showed it to me proudly. Of course, I freaked out. However, he didn’t seem to be sorry at all. In front of my house, there was a farm. Our family and my neighbors made use of it as a kitchen garden. My grandfather taught me how to till the soil and how to seed a field. However, my cat was so mischievous that he sometimes dug up the seeds. We expected a good harvest, such as tomatoes, eggplants, cucumbers, herbs, and so on. Even though the vegetables were irregular in size, they were much tastier than vegetables in supermarkets. ___________________________ When I think of the landscape, I am lost in memories of my childhood. ___________________________ My grandfather was good at cooking. After my grandmother passed away, he had cooked by himself. One of my favorite foods was vinegared cucumbers, wakame seaweed, and dried young sardines. I learned how to season it from my grandfather. However, I have never made it as good as his. When I think of the landscape, I am lost in memories of my childhood. There were always my grandfather and my cat. Last year, he passed away because of heart failure. My cat died this year as if he had followed my grandfather. After I lost my grandfather, I realized how much he loved me. I wanted to express a word of thanks to him. But it was too late. And so, when I recall this landscape, my mind is filled with gratitude and regrets.

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During the first days after moving to New York, it was hard for me to be far away from my country, my family, and my friends. In addition, I was worried about my new life here, so I did not get much sleep and I was getting up very early. Before dawn, I found my mind unable to stop thinking about all these changes that had happened in my life. However, I found deep peace looking out the window; it has provided me with a kind of comfort. Majida Gouriech I pulled the blinds up gently so as not to wake my husband. Gazing outside as the morning lights were shining, my worries disappeared. Outside it was freezing cold, but inside it was warm and cozy. The powdery snow stretched everywhere like a big white carpet. The squirrels, that were from time to time coming up looking for something to eat, added a magic touch. The different kinds of trees, scattered randomly, with different sizes, shapes and types, created an atmosphere of ease and beauty. But the most attractive thing in this amazing painting was a tall leafless frost-coated tree, standing opposite my bedroom window. It's a sturdy old tree with lots of branches. Looking at this tree gave me the feeling it was telling me about people who once lived here and with whom I shared the same conversation, and every branch had a special story.

When When tired of seeing the crowded city, the smog, the indolent people, the dirty streets When tired of cement, bricks, skyscrapers When tired of time without time When tired of worries, responsibilities When stressed. I just look up and there you are! Magnificent, imposing, majestic, relaxing Sticking out in the high. You look old, your skin is different You keep life inside you The sky is yours, the clouds play with you. When looking at you everything changes My mood and the aesthetic of the city changes too You are the balance You are a wood water tank. J. Alberto M. Ramirez (ISP Alumnus)

Center News Fall 2011


Discovering... Advice from a Mathematics Teacher: If There Is No Solution, Invent One By Cyrille Nzouda Could a great mathematician, a great philosopher, or a poet measure or express the value of something invaluable we have lost and no longer possess? In most cases, we are aware of the importance of something, its profound necessity, or our unbreakable dependence on it, when it no longer belongs to us. We start trying to regain it. In spite of difficulties we might encounter when attempting to retrieve it, if there seems to be no solution, we should invent one. I have learned the proof of this statement through three stages of my life as a teacher: How I found my talent for teaching, why I stopped teaching and how I felt this loss, and how I managed to find the way again. I discovered my talent for teaching during my last year in high Cyrille Nzouda school. I was preparing for an exam that would allow me to be admitted to the university. I formed a group that would study together in order to be able to perform at our best. I realized that I was a leader of the group, and automatically, unconsciously, I found myself studying hard because I had to explain the lessons to the others in order to be a responsible leader. I started loving being a teacher and, shy as I had been before this experience, I was very eloquent after that. When preparing for my master’s degree, I started teaching in private institutes. That is where my real career as a teacher started. As my renown as best assistant professor was growing, a month before the day I was scheduled to defend my master’s thesis I was invited to teach mathematics at one of Cameroon’s important private universities, named Cosendai University. ______________________________ I started loving being a teacher and, shy as I had been before this experience, I was very eloquent after that. __________________________ My experience at Cosendai University was a turning point in my career. I spent a month preparing my materials to be able to do my best. I cannot forget the first day when the dean introduced me to the class. There were around 700 students! I was filled with the spirit of determination and I said to myself: “This world is what you were looking for, it is time to enjoy it!” I looked at a table where there was a juicy orange. I borrowed it from the student and held it up. A deep silence pervaded the audience. Maybe they were wondering what a math teacher was doing with an orange. Then I said: “I am this orange that will quench your thirst for mathematics.” The silent faces of the students became smiling faces of new friends. Laughing, I could feel their comfort. The strategy worked. By the middle of the term, I had become a famous teacher at that university, a celebrity. As my renown grew, the dean of one of the best universities in the capital invited me to be an assistant professor while I was working on my Ph.D. My life was devoted to the profession of teaching. I was able to feel it flowing in my veins and arteries and regulating the beating of my heart. Despite that, I didn’t realize how deep was my dependence on teach-

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ing, how deeply I was immersed in it, until the day I had to take an important decision that would affect the rest of my existence. I had an opportunity to go to the United States, and I had to decide whether or not to do it. If I went, I would have an opportunity to learn languages such as English and Spanish, and also a possibility to earn an American Ph.D. If I stayed, however, I would keep going with my career and my Ph.D., even though it would be difficult because of the lack of resources. There was a dilemma. I decided to come to the USA leaving behind all I had been. After one month in America, I realized how seriously I had been addicted to teaching. Four months later, I knew I had to do something about it. In fact, my first goal was to work on my fluency in American English. I found the way to the public library where I started reading books. Fortunately, the library was also about to start conversation classes, which I joined. On the last day of class, one of my classmates recommended the International Center to me. After meeting with Elaine Roberts, I joined the Immigrant Support Program. I started taking classes, and by participating in conversations in the lounge, I found my fluency in English speeding up. ____________________________ “If there is no solution, invent one.” I felt like these words were written for me. I had to find a way to teaching. __________________________ Meanwhile, the good spirit of teaching was still haunting me. One day, on the subway going to the Center, I read an advertisement. I can’t remember exactly what it was about, but I remember these words: “If there is no solution, invent one.” I felt like these words were written for me. I had to find a way to teaching. That is how the idea of the Book Club occurred to me. After that came the huge part, making the idea a reality. My concern was about my ability to manage that club. My first step was to find what kind of books we were going to read. Then I had to select a story according to the general level of the potential readers. That made me read a lot before making a selection. After that, I had to prepare the presentation of the story. I could spend three days thinking about it. The challenge was great: If the presentation was not good, nobody would come and the class would be cancelled. I had to find a definition and pronunciation for every unknown word, so that I would not be surprised by any question. By going through this process, I found my level of English speeding up and I felt more comfortable. I remember the first class. How could I start? There was no orange on the table. However, I had the idea to have each person write his or her name on a piece of paper along with their favorite number from 0 to 9. Some of them chose the biggest number without knowing what was to follow. Then I told them to list things about themselves and the number of things would equal the number they chose. It created a lot of laughs, with some people trying to change their number to a smaller one. But, the result was that each one felt comfortable talking. We started reading short stories by O. Henry. The first story was full of new vocabulary and created huge conversations. The class is structured like this: review of vocabulary and pronunciation of words or expressions that are difficult; discussion of the main idea of the story in small groups; and the discussion of the connection of the story to the real world. My experience with the Book Club confirms that if there is no solution, one has to invent one. One should focus one’s attention on what one loves and on what one’s life is devoted to. One day, the Director of the Center asked me this question: “How do you feel when you are teaching?” My answer was: “I feel alive.”

Center News Fall 2011


FIFTY(ALMOST) FACES WE ARE PROUD OF IN OUR 50TH ANNIVERSARY YEAR Ron Nicolayesen, the Center volunteer whose career (and passion) has been photography for 30 years, took these portraits to celebrate our members’ diversity. A native New Yorker, Ron feels that “coming to the Center every week is like visiting a microcosm of the city, but with a lot more smiles.”

Fifty Years of Trips and Tours Led by Lucie Benedikt Since the International Center opened 50 years ago, volunteer Lucie Benedikt has been organizing and leading most trips and tours for Center members and volunteers. Assisted by two volunteers who handle, respectively, the dinner trips and the Trinity Church concerts, Lucie has managed up to 50 events per year. Lucie Benedikt Lucie takes groups to museums, landmarks, and events in and around New York City and nearby countryside. Among the popular visits are the ones to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the New York Public Library, the Rubin and Forbes Museums, the Jewish Museum, and the New York Historical Society. During the warmer weather there are visits to the Museum Mile and all-day outings to the New York Botanical Gardens, the DIA in Beacon, NY, a visit and tour of Boscobel and Cold Spring, and a visit to Princeton, NJ (including a campus tour and museum visit). Other annual events are a three-hour boat ride, an introduction to street fairs, and the Christmas Eve musical service at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church. The highlight of our tour season is the annual trip (our 50th) to the Tanglewood Music Festival in Lenox, Massachusetts.

Our New York Lives…

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I have been in New York City for a very short time so it is quite difficult for me to describe a great event that happened. But, to tell the truth, I don’t think that a challenging experience must be something very big. Since I have been here, each day is a challenging day. The first issue I faced was the language. It’s true that I studied English in Brazil for several years, but nothing can compare to being here, talking with people who are not concerned with grammar, people with different accents, and so on. The first challenge I had was to learn how to order my lunch in a restaurant. And what a great challenge that was for me! I can mention a number of other challenges like that one: How to buy a MetroCard, how to open a checking account at a bank, etc.. I would say that making new friends could be a great challenge. But, now that I am a member of the ICNY, I realize that making friends here won’t be a challenge. — Weber Gonçalves

We are from: Afghanistan, Belarus, Burma, Cameroon Chad, China, Colombia, Congo, Egypt, Ecuador, France, Germany, Haiti, Japan, Korea, Morocco, Russia, Senegal, Spain, Tibet, Turkey, Ukraine, Uzbekistan. Page 7

I feel that everything I have lived through in the USA in the year I have been here has been interesting, but I can’t say that everything has been wonderful. Sometimes daily life in this country is hard, but I think that all my experiences here, good or bad, have taught me a lot. The situation for a family of new immigrants in this country is not so easy. Everything is a challenge: money, living expenses, language issues. But I have learned that if you really want something, and you work hard to make your dreams come true, this is the right country, the right city, and the right society to get help to realize your dreams. The International Center (ICNY) is one of the places I know that really cares about people and is ready to help you in almost any way possible. — Claudia Vargas

Center News Fall 2011


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Center Hours Monday — Thursday 11:00 AM — 8:00 PM Friday 11:00 AM — 7:00 PM Saturday 9:30 AM — 3:30 PM CLOSED SUNDAYS

Theater Desk Hours (Subject to change) Tuesday — Friday 12:00-3:00 PM; 3:30-6:30 PM

Computer Lab Hours Monday — Friday 12:00 PM — 7:00 PM CLOSED SATURDAYS For a list of staff emails, please see our website: www.intlcenter.org/staff.htm

Individuals Carol Barker Elizabeth Bassett Carol Baum-Schuh Lucie Benedikt Eric Bertelsen Mary Ann Callahan Anna Chu Ann Collins Sharron Davis Renee Elias Mira N. Erickson Anne Gorrissen Guenther E. Greiner Jutta Grosser Adam Gui Lyman C. Hamilton

Richard Hill Bonnie E. Johnson Susan Lichter Phil Marcus Edwin McKeever Terry Neugesser Benjamin Robinson Ed Spaeth Marilyn Stetar Jack Van Hulst Alex von Obelitz Chris Wangro Alice Warner-Mehlhorn George Weill Winston Williams

Klaus and Aracy Winter

Foundations

Special Thanks

Andrew Romay Foundation American Express Charitable Fund The Elizabeth & Stanley D. Scott Foundation The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Nippon Express Foundation The Pimco Foundation The United Way of NYC WK Kellogg Foundation

Andrew Romay Open Society Foundations The Maud Seligman Trust Elizabeth Scott Sharron Davis Marilyn Stetar

The Heidi Handman Scholarship Fund

Corporations Ferring Pharmaceuticals Goldman Sachs

Connect With Us

Contact Us icny@intlcenter.org

J. Stephen Sheppard Mira N. Erickson

In Memory of Herb Okun Ken & Mira Erickson Marvin & Madeleine Kalb Beth Kempner Ellen Laipson Dena & Louis Marienthal Ronald Vander Schaaf Jack & Dorothy Swiss

In Memory of Jean Rose Sharron Davis

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Center News Fall 2011


Fall 2011 International Center News