1942 was the year that Rose and Angela became best friends.
The two women had more than they thought in common. After having both come from the Ukraine to start a new life in New York City the two became neighbors in their building on the Lower East Side. The two ladies were born in the winter of 1870, they both met their husbands in school and got married at the age of 20, and they each had one daughter and two grandchildren.
They were neighbors for 42 years and had only ever smiled at each other in the hall and exchanged hello’s and small talk about the weather. But all that changed in the spring of 1941 when their daughters began working again.
Naturally, Angela and Rose had offered to look after their grandchildren while their daughters headed to work in the clothing factory they had just started in. Now with two little young kids running around the small apartment, the only peace and quiet the two ladies could find without leaving the place was at their fire escapes which served as a combination of a window sill and a balcony in New York City.
At first, they two had laughed off the coincidence of encountering each other at the red staircases on the exterior of their apartment, but then the visits became more frequent and the topics of conversation got more personal.
So each afternoon, at exactly two, Rose and Angela had their favorite interactions of the day with one another as they spoke about their life back in the Ukraine, their husbands, the daughters, their grandchildren, and their interests.
All the stress the ladies carried was relieved with the advice they gave each other and the laughs they shared.
Pitch Black by Youme Landowne and Anthony Horton focused on the life of a homeless man living in the darkness of the NYC Subway tunnels.
The comic book’s main character was a young black man living in the streets of NYC. After having been abandoned, he found himself trying to survive in the streets of this jungle and he finally made his way to a homeless shelter. At the homeless shelter, life was worse than it was in the street. It was so terrible that he made his way back onto the streets to avoid all that happened in there, eventually making his way to the Subway tunnels.
If I were to discuss or teach this comic book to either High School or College students, the discussion would be focused around the environments of homeless shelters in the city and how the government seemingly turns a blind eye to the epidemic.
If life inside a shelter is worse than outside, what does that say about these shelters? The book showed the reader how people would die everyday in the shelters, how there would only be a certain day of the week where the food wasn’t bland and disgusting, how the homeless people would just practically be thrown in a room and left to their own devices. Conflicts arise in those rooms, government officials bring up the issues of shelters or the growing number of homeless people but they never seem to actually do anything about it.
I would bring up past issues with homeless shelters and people in them, I’d even bring up today’s issue of our Mayor’s dilemma with the old hotel in Queens being turned into a homeless shelter and both sides of the story. There is a wide variety of subtopics to cover when it comes to homelessness, but the rates in NYC are going up and that can only mean the hellish shelters are bound to become even worse. Focusing on life inside of said shelters seems like the most reasonable thing to discuss with students.
For my Academic Service Learning I took a stroll down to the Queens Library on Merrick Blvd in Jamaica, Queens.
I had never been to that library before, but according to some other fellow SJU students that I met, the place got an unbelievable makeover. The entrance to the library is beautiful and the whole first floor is a rotunda. The children’s part of the library is off to the right with a first floor and a second floor, that is seemingly reserved for all the loud activities like the homework helping I was taking part in.
Clearly homework help doesn’t sound like it’s meant to be a loud task, but with at least five kids at each table it is. I had imagined I was going to be helping these kids out one on one, but I was stuck with a minimum of five at the table and I was to help them all simultaneously with all different types of subjects.
The first time I went was exhausting and I ended up staying an hour later than intended just to help two little sisters out with their math. I enjoyed getting to influence the little kids in making sure that they understood that their education comes first and to stay on top of all their school work. I was a lot of help with the Hispanic kids when their mom’s came around and I got to actually speak to them and they were relieved and pleased to have things explained to them.
The second time I went, I had help from a fellow SJU student at the table I was sat at. I had some of the same kids come back to me cause they really liked how I had helped them the time before. There was one kid cheering when we got his homework done in twenty minutes. He was going on to his other friends who had just arrived that he got his homework all done so early and now he had time to go buy a guitar at a music shop with his mom.
The experience was beyond memorable because although I only got to see these kids twice and help them with what they seem to struggle the most with, I thought back on how my mom would always sit me down and make sure I did all my homework as soon as I got through the door when I arrived home. The first thing I’d do was my homework, all by myself, and I never needed help but this experience made me realize that not all people are the same. I learned how to be patient, what with six kids on top of me asking me English and Math questions, and how to communicate things better to them and even their parents.
I like to think that I helped these kids out in some way, mostly by passing on the ideals of education coming before anything else. I even tried to explain to a kid how reading is the most fun thing anyone could do, as a bibliophile I was not exaggerating. It was a wonderful experience and I’d like to go back on my free time someday. It’s not everyday that you get to sit at a table and teach an eight year old something while they teach you something back.