Macaulay Honors College Seminar 2, IDC 3001H

Month: April 2017 (Page 1 of 3)

Education and Immigration

On Monday, we discussed Foner’s chapter on education and immigration as well as the NY Times article on the same topic.  This was understandably, a very difficult issue to broach.  There are so many things to consider and so many different viewpoints depending on what one’s role is in the education system.  The first question brought up was how should kids who first arrive to the U.S. speaking no English be taught?  I thought that this seemingly simple question is actually very hard to answer in a way that would benefit everyone.  It seems like in each answer, there’s always someone who will be giving up something or losing out on something.  Personally at first, I thought that it should’ve been that these foreign students should be placed into ESL classes, but still be taught the other subjects in their native language so they don’t fall behind in the curriculum.  This is important because we want these students to graduate on time and get a diploma.  For many immigrants, the main reason why they come to the U.S. is for a better education and job opportunities.  If these students aren’t able to graduate on time with their diplomas, it seems like their efforts in coming to a new country is wasted.  But, as the NY Times article pointed out, is it really better for the students in the long run to be isolated from the actual class just to push them towards graduation?  In reality and from stories that I’ve heard, many foreign students are just put into the regular class with everyone else and through that they’re forced to learn the language.  Even though they fall behind a little bit in the beginning because they don’t know the language, in the long run, it’s better for their English speaking abilities.  It’s similar to the idea when parents throw their children into the water to force them to learn how to swim.  This is a similar concept and these foreign students can only improve from that point onwards.  However, another problem arises.  The parents of the other students in the class might complain that that these immigrant children are pushing the class behind and that the teacher is devoting more time to those students and neglecting the others.  All of these are very plausible reasons and this just shows how there’s no single way of teaching foreign students that would make everyone satisfied.  It’s also important to determine if forcing these immigrant students to get a diploma on time is more beneficial in the long run or throwing them into a class and forcing them to adapt and learn the language in that way would be better for them.  It’s all very subjective and it just proves how difficult it is to agree on single way of implementing a teaching system for immigrant students.

Rough drafts for Monday

Hi everyone!

Soon you should be hearing from the member of the tech committee in your group about how the website is going to take shape.

For Monday, you’ll be submitting the rough draft text for your topic of the website. All you need to do for this is to submit the text, but if you know you are going to be using specific images or video, you can embed that too. Within your group, you have to decide how you’re going to present your topic. Are you going to write a few different short essays/articles? Are you going to write one long story? Are you going to have an introduction and then a number of case studies? The choices are up to you. The point of this is to see where you’re at and for Prof. Rosenberg and I to make suggestions for you as we move ahead with the project. This is not final — this should be a chance for you to figure out how to organize your interviews, your individual research, and your media.

As a group, you should decide before Monday what you’re going to submit and who is going to submit it. If everyone in your group is writing their own mini article/essay, then everyone should submit one individually. If you are only writing one piece of text as a group, then only one person needs to submit it (indicate all group members in the file).
You’ll be submitting your text as either a .doc or .docx to the Halal Carts website by using the “Documents” feature. This is a feature that will allow you to store files on the dashboard and then work on them together, I will show you more about it next Wednesday. For Monday…
  1. Go to the dashboard of the Halal Carts website ( If you’re not a member of the site yet, you’ll have to join by clicking the “Add Me” button on the left hand side, and then have your tech committee person make you an administrator.
  2. On the left side, you’ll see “Documents”
  3. Click “Add Document”
  4. Under title, be sure to indicate which group you are (city, cooks2, owners, etc.)
  5. Under “Visibility” on the right hand side, you must select “Public” or else we can’t see it!
  6. Select “rough draft” from the “workflow state” dropdown menu.
  7. Upload new version, and then click the green “Update” button
  8. Make sure you bring your laptops, charged, to class on Monday!

Especially now that we’re working on the website as a class, please reach out and ask me any questions you might have. One thing I told the tech committee people today: it almost always takes a lot longer to do something that you think when you are creating a website, so be sure that the work is divided evenly within your group, and be sure to Start. Things. Early!


Thoughts on New Yorkers and Real Estate

I’ve generally thought that real estate was a thing that everyone in the world discussed and it was surprising to hear today that outside of New York, nobody really talked about it. Nobody really talked about, for example, property values or had strong opinions about which material was best for building: Brick or shingles (Bricks are obviously the better choice, they’re (1) more aesthetically pleasing and (2) far more durable). To be clear, people outside of New York City probably do talk about their properties but not over Sunday brunch as the way we do here. New Yorkers seem obsessed over their real estate and for good reason.

I think New Yorker’s obsession with real estate comes in part from the meaning that many of the streets seem to impart. To buy a home or more realistically, nowadays, a small apartment in New York is to buy a part of history. Some streets are just dripping with history. I was walking home the other day and I walked down Third ave. At a certain point, Third ave, after Delancy, changes into the Bowery. On either side of the street, I noticed in the windowstills of shops and buildings on the street was posters by the Friends of the Bowery that highlighted the buildings, theatres, homes, which once stood there. I clearly remember that in what was now a group of art galleries on an affluent block, flanked by condominiums and high rises, was a poster talking about the first theatre that showed Vaudeville acts that stood once right on that very ground! Much further down the block, near where the Five Points used to be, once stood another theatre that was designed with beautiful, huge greek columns, and wide balconies, designed to entice wealthy patrons but ironically the theatre was ignored like the plague by the rich who preferred prettier theatres uptown and was rather beloved by the poor immigrant groups that lived nearby, First the theatre, at the corner of Canal and Bowery, was patronized by large crowds of German immigrants, who in turn gave way to Italians, then Jews, then finally closed when the last Chinese finally left the theatre. What stands there now is a Chinese Dim Sum place and an ugly parking garage. The streets of New York are just dripping with historic meaning.

When New Yorkers discuss real estate, they’re discussing the lives, the days, the laughter, the smiles, the tears, the blood of those people that have lived on the same land. New York is a place where so many people have walked, so many people have lived and the history, unlike many other places, is so well-known and so well-loved.


Soccer Event for Refugees

Here is a link to video of that event in Greece for refugees where they watched the Barcelona v. Real Madrid match and ate pizza (among other activities) this past weekend. I think it shows how much sports can mean to people even those who have much bigger things to worried about.

For Wednesday

Please read Chapter 8 in the Binder and Reimers book (NOT in Foner).  The chapter is called “A Better Time: New York CIty, 1945-1970.” We will also continue to discuss education issues that we raised in class on Monday.

Following Sports is Worthwhile

Today in class we briefly discussed how talking about sports is a way to connect with people that you may not have anything else to do with.  We also discussed how at the same time following sports could be viewed as a waste of time.  I have always been a big sports fan and have heard my friends tell me that I am wasting my time.  Recently I have been trying to find an argument as to why following sports is not a waste of time and I have come up with a few possible explanations that I have tried to explain to my friends that do not follow sports.

For one, I think that sports being a thing that can connect people that don’t have much else to talk about is powerful.  The topic of sports is something that people have strong opinions about and unlike politics, heated debates don’t usually end angrily.  Having knowledge about sports is valuable because it is something that comes up a lot in daily conversation.  Also, to connect sports to our class, following sports is a great way for immigrants to become more acclimated with American society. For example, if an immigrant who followed sports came to the U.S and found American soccer fans it would probably be easy to talk with them even though there may be a slight language barrier.   However, this is not the only reason I think that following sports could be valuable.

My main reason that I think following sports is not a waste of time is way more philosophical.  I believe that in life the most important thing that one can do is achieve their goals.  However, I believe that sometimes it is very hard for one to realize whether or not they have achieved their goals because sometimes people don’t exactly know what their goals are.  In the world of sports, it is very easy to see whether or not a player or team has achieved their goals.  I believe watching and feeling involved in these achievements makes a person realize what life is all about.  Further, I think that the realization of what life is all about makes following sports a worthwhile investment of one’s time.

Immigrant Sports

In Thursday’s class, we discussed the novel Netherlands by Joseph O’Neil. In Netherlands, Hans grew up playing both soccer and cricket. Although the novel focused mainly in cricket, I found it interesting how both of these sports are “hiding” in the shadow of an extremely popular American sport in the United States. (Baseball and Football) This also reminds me of a previous class in which we talked about the popularity of NASCAR in America while most of the world enjoys formula one racing and finds format of NASCAR uninteresting.

As we discussed in class, the experience of the cricket players in Netherlands mirror the experience of immigrants in America as both were push to the side and adopt a 2nd class status. The immigrants are getting overlooked in America and are not getting the respect that they deserve similar to cricket and soccer after failing to compete with what was already established in the country. In fact, cricket and soccer can be view as more of sports for immigrants than for Americans, as more than half of the U.S. national men’s soccer team are either immigrants, or children of immigrants. In Netherlands, although Hans was different from his fellow cricket teammates, as he was a six foot five, rich, white European, he still had to go through problems due to his immigrant status.

For Monday

There is no additional reading assignment for Monday. We will finish up with Netherland and then discuss Foner, Chapter 7 and that NYTimes article, “Where Education and Assimilation Collide.” I also hope to hear good updates on the Halal Cart project.

The Post 9/11 Era

During Thursday’s class, we discussed the different aspects of Joseph O’Neill’s novel, Netherland. This novel mostly takes place in New York City after the devastating event that was and still is 9/11. September 11, 2001 was provably one of the worst events to happen not only in New York City, but in the United States and the world. That event derived out of pure hatred and terrorism, and was truly an event that no one can ever forget. To be honest, I do not remember 9/11 from my own memory since I was merely a 3 year old girl. However, my parents vividly remember that day. It is ingrained in their minds. They remember the sky being unmistakably blue and without a cloud in the sky. However, after the attacks, they felt lonely, confused, and scared. In Netherland, Hans feels a similar way. He is profoundly affected by the Twin Towers collapsing and finds himself dazed, merely floating above his world. He feels disconnected and lost.  This feeling is extremely similar to how both New Yorkers and Americans felt during this sad and vulnerable time.

Looking back on a day that forever be in our hearts, one can not help but wonder what is in store for the future. Will something like this happen again? Will this country ever truly recover? With the new administration that this country is under, no one can entirely be sure. Our current president is entirely taboo of anything we have ever experienced before. However, it is up to us to decide how we want to mold our future. As New Yorkers, we have become more aware and more weary of our surroundings over the years. We have taken caution and note of whatever is in our path. However, the best way to combat our feats and losses is if we support this country in times of success and in times of sorrow. If we can do this, we will be unbreakable.

Is the American Dream dead?

Today, one of the things we discussed was the American Dream. In the novel Netherland, the character Chuck is the archetype of this dream. He represents the optimism and patriotism in the American system. Nowadays there is a rising pessimism in the American Dream. Some are even proclaiming it to be dead.

Is the American Dream dead? Research has shown that on average 30-year-olds now are earning less than their parents. Also, the income gap is larger than ever before. In monetary terms, it seems like the American Dream is dying, but I don’t think that’s the whole story. I don’t believe that money is what the American Dream is about. The Constitution promises all Americans the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” We have become so fixated as a society on equating money to happiness that we lost touch with what happiness truly means. Happiness can found no matter how much money you have. What made me realize this was speaking with my parents and grandparents who are all immigrants. They spoke of their struggles and persecution against them. America afforded them a life of comfort and rights they couldn’t have imagined. This is where they found happiness. As a native born American I think I can sometimes lose sight of this. We need to find what truly makes us happy and find meaning in our lives. America gives us the right to pursue this dream. This to me is what the American Dream truly is, and it seems to be alive and well but you just have to take advantage of it.

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