Due to the lack of snow we were forced to change what was becoming a nice MSSO tradition. This year our ADVENTURES ON ICE had to be replaced by adventures in New York City. Our journey started very early in the morning. For some it started abruptly by a text message at 2:30 AM with the picture of a lovely puppy. At that time it could hardly look lovely but achieved its purpose, it woke us up. Early preparations let to early meetings in Pittsfield, Lenox, Lee and Great Barrington. If we had had cameras following us through our morning journey observers would have taught we were participants in “The Amazing Race”. Some of us seemed to have lost our clues and were running late while others were driving in the Mass Pike, through Great Barrington, on route 22, rout 41, route 44 and others who knew where.
Eventually we ALL made it. We ALL made it, even one of our precious members who seemed to have been left behind until a “knight” in shining armor (his car) rescued her and reunited her with her friends. Amazingly we were all there, shaking and shivering while waiting for the train to arrive. For many the first train ride ever, for others the first train ride in the United States, for others a familiar ride and yet indeed a unique adventure since they were riding at 6:20 AM with friends from Benin, Brazil, China, Colombia, Ecuador, India, Lee, Mexico, Pittsfield, Puerto Rico, Russia and Ukraine.
Like in movies such as The Polar Express the conductor walked up and down the aisle collecting and marking tickets while the whistle would blow once in a while. As it often happens in large groups, someone misplaced his ticket and worried about being kicked out. While we glided through the Hudson Valley corridor, we caught a few early morning sun rays, caught up with a bit of sleep or caught up with friends not seen for a little while. After so much anticipation we arrived in Grand Central Station to be marveled by its beauty. That’s when the MSSO picture taking epidemic started. Multiple camera clicks captured our amazement at the physical beauty of The City; starting with Grand Central, its hallways, corridors and chandeliers, 42nd Street, Park Avenue, The Empire State Building, the New York City Subway, Canal Station, South Ferry, Battery Park, Clinton Castle, The Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, Trinity Church, the Wall Street Bull, and Ground Zero. Through every step we took we marveled at the city’s beauty that for so long had only seemed attainable through a TV or movie screen. All of a sudden the City was ours. Our own journeys to get to there prepared us to recall the journeys made by the thousands of immigrants who first set eyes in the Untied States through Ellis Island. We were able to visualize their journeys and remember our own immigrant stories. There we were, in Ellis Island, learning about the United State’s immigrant history and understanding our role in it. Knowing that like the immigrants before us we had set up in a journey to reach high goals and dreams of becoming the persons we were meant to become in a land still considered the land of opportunity.
We ended our journey with birthday cake (just a little, tiny bite) Bari, bari… or Happy Birthday songs in multiple languages embraced by genuine hugs of friendship. Once again, thanks to “President’s Day” the Berkshire Community College Multicultural Students (MSSO) had an incredible adventure. Maybe next year, we will go back to adventures on ice, but for now I think we are all very happy for our adventures in New York.
Jan 30 2012
As the spring 2012 semester starts it might seem that New Year’s resolutions are far gone, after all today is actually January 30, 2012. Rumor has it that a great deal of MSSO members made it to a very special list, The Dean’s List. But, it is not a rumor it is a fact! A significant number of MSSO members have proven that they are very serious about their education. Let’s take this opportunity to celebrate their achievements! CONGRATULATIONS to: Nhi-Nguyen Le, Tram Anh Le,Fernanda Machado, Irina Bezrukova, Nolan Fernandez, Sylwia Ketchenand, Jennyfer Chacon, Kostyantyn Latyshenko, Erik Lugin, Maria Middleton, Su Qin, Tannya Romero and Ginette Thales.
In a blink of an eye the semester is done. A few captured images will remind us of what no test scores of GPA’s can yet we hope that the lessons on friendship, discovery, fun and adventure with MSSO f 2011 remain with you forever.
I just opened a big manila envelope, so stuffed that it had to be resealed with additional tape. Inside it, there was an assortment of hand written letters. In tiny little colorful envelopes feelings were expressed. As much as each one of them was unique and special they all echoed the same sentiment, “thank you!” Some said thank you in English others in Spanish. These letters came from PHS; from their ESL program. They came from the students who came to the MSSO Nov. 3rd Immigrant Stories Forum. The MSSO stories inspired them “
I know there is a better way to post power point presentations, but all my notes are in boxes on top of boxes, so please bear with me. If you open the highlighted link it will take you to a power point presentation that will give you an interesting peak into how through exploring one’s own culture (for example me, exploring the Mexican celebration of the Day of the Dead) one can find how people from seemingly different backgrounds experience profound emotions in somehow similar ways.
Dear BCC Community:
The altar prompted by the Mexican Celebration of the Day of the Dead has lead to multiple discussions among Multicultural (MSSO) students, faculty and staff and might lead to even more. After introducing the concept of the celebration of the Day of the Dead it became clear to many MSSO students that even if we might come from different parts of the world and have very different religious backgrounds somehow our humanity transcends our cultures. While rituals, traditions and celebrations might differ setting up this altar has exposed us to an intrinsic commonality; we all seem to find solace in honoring our loved ones. The Altar of the Day of the Dead has morphed into an altar that hosts Indian, Chinese, Christian and non-religious symbols amid pictures of loved ones. This altar presents a glimpse into an aspect of our diverse student body. The more we learn about each other the more we can understand each other. We hope you enjoy it.
“ I hereby declare, on oath,
that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law;
that I will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law;
My heart was elated and my chair was shaken with the clapping and joy of thousands of family members and friends who witnessed the becoming of New Americans. SEVEN HUNDRED AND FOURTY SEVEN new Americans! Among them was one of us, our very own, Esperance Behanzin. The journey for all of them so different and full of challenges had come to an end. Under the same roof strangers born in faraway lands raised their hand and Pledged Allegiance to what now, officially is their Country! They stood with tears in their eyes and a knot in their throats as they sang the National Anthem. Flags, lots of American flags danced back and forth with the most joyful movement of finally becoming an American Citizen. If you see Esp, do as President Barack Obama did, and welcome her as a new American. Wish that her dreams, like those of the thousands of immigrants who found hope and opportunity in this country come true. Wish that her hard work and determination allows her to become the best person she can be and with that make our community a better place. Wish that she remembers October 26th, 2011 as one of the most important days of her life. And as you welcome her into this nation remember how all of us, whether citizens, permanent residents or temporary visitors share for this moment the opportunities that come with living in a free democracy and the responsibilities that come with it.
This last Saturday I had the honor to attend a fundraiser for an agency many of you might know, Literacy Network of South Berkshire . If you haven’t heard about them or what they do I invite you to get to know them. Their mission is to provide instruction on a confidential basis in reading, math, obtaining a high-school equivalency diploma, and English as a Second Language to adults living in Sothern Berkshire County. If you asked me what do they do I would say they transform lives! I have American friends who for various complicated reasons did not have the opportunity to learn how to read or graduate from high school when they were younger. Most of them are accomplished and successful adults who for years felt something was missing in their lives. With the help of Lit Net (short name) they were able to tackle the skill of learning how to read and write or complete their high school diploma. For many of them it also meant to conquer their fears and keep their heads up and proud of their achievements. I have other friends who have attended Lit. Net to learn how to speak English in order to be successful in their new life in America. At BCC we have been the lucky recipients of some of their program graduates, adults who have found the strength and skill they needed to embrace the challenges of higher education. This small yet impressive agency achieves great things with the support of volunteers who share their time and skills to make a difference by providing tutoring and or their financial support.
Read more about Emanuel Ax and why not listen to his music, it is truly beautiful http://www.emanuelax.com/
Lit Net: http://litnetsb.org/page.php?PageID=1638&PageName=ABOUT+US