Hello this Anil Persaud speaking, I am a sophomore at New York City college of Technology. My major as of right now is LAA because to be honest I am trying to get all of my requirements down before I get started on classes that have to deal with my actual major. My career of choice that I will be moving into once I finish college would be law enforcement so I will be studying criminal justice in school. This has been one thing that I have been so passionate about since I was younger and I cannot see myself doing anything differently in the future. So here is what I can tell you all about myself other than what I have said. I am not familiar with self help literature so I will leave it at that. I am not used to working in open lab, actually not ever so I hope this semester will not be too stressful. Hopefully as you do with everything else, the more you work with something , the better you will get at it, so that is what I am hoping for. Since the start of COVID-19 as you would think everything has been getting difficult and personally I don’t like online classes because it is very hard to keep up with but obviously we don’t have a choice so doing the best that we can is what will only work. My favorite genre of literature would be short story because in my opinion, its really really understandable. I really hope to learn as much as I can in this coarse for the time that we have.

Hello =)

This is Maria. I am a senior in Paralegal Studies. I love my career…. But, when growing up, Law never crossed my mind, and if someone would have asked me about it, I would have said no! without hesitation. I have interned and worked in Law Firms, that is why I am convinced that I enjoy my career. My hobbies are to travel, to dance, to teach and to engage into random but deep verbal conversations. Normally, I used to travel in winter and summer breaks but COVID is forcing me to stay home. So, watching long series has become a new hobby. I even bought my first TV in May 2020.

My favorite genre¬†of literature is fiction. I do not like drama nor horror because I think daily life already¬†has a lot of both, so I think we do not need more of them, LOL.¬†It is the first time I am using Open Lab, but I will get accustomed to it =).¬†¬† My expectation for the course is to keep practicing my English, because English is my second language and even if it were my first, there will still be room for improvement, because the learning experience¬†never ends. The bright side of writing¬†is that one gets to set free one’s imagination and the downside is that a first draft is almost never the official one (even the best writers have said so).

I love positive and constructive critical thinking and speech because it keeps the brain engaged and challenged. Unfortunately, not everyone is prepared to reciprocate. I mean, most people seem to take things personally (get offended or angry very quick) or even worse they mock or laugh out loud. Well, according to psychology people who react by laughing out loud are intentionally avoiding to mentally process what was said. Therefore, that person may not be prepared to engage in a critical, positive, and constructive conversation. Unless, he/she is laughing at a comedy show of course the exceptions exist, but that is another topic.

I do not have 1 favorite book, but I have enjoyed reading excerpts of the writings of¬†the philosopher Immanuel Kant, the anthropologist Jane Goodall, and of the Ghostwriter¬†Gene Stone ‚ėÜ‚ėÜ‚ėÜ‚ėÜ‚ėÜ

ABOUT self-help, I think it is more than just becoming stronger because sometimes I feel like people think of S-T-R-O-N-G  as someone who never cries and hardens his/her heart to keep living. This to me is a wrong definition of strong, and because of that I prefer the word W-I-S-E instead of strong.   In this regard, I created the following analogy: becoming stronger would be like just passing the course BUT becoming wise would be like learning (the essence of why things happened) AND passing such a message (teaching) onto others kindly ♡♡♡♡♡.

I hope we all have a great semester despite the challenges of 2021.


Hello fellow peers, my name is Aryanna Smith, I’m 19 years old and I am expected to graduate this upcoming June with an associates degree in liberal arts. I’m interested in fashion, even though I don’t really deal with it much (I’m hoping to get more into it this year)! I don’t really have much hobbies because if I’m not doing school I’m mostly just relaxing watching a tv show, (my current favorite is Law & Order SVU). But on the rare occasion that I want to dabble into an activity, I’m probably reading a book, trying to cook a new dish, or writing. Currently I am in the ASAP program at City Tech, and this semester I was lucky enough to get a job with them as a Career peer mentor, I haven’t started yet but am looking forward to the new opportunity. My career goal is to eventually be doing something in the fashion world, whatever that turns out to be I wold be fine with. Over winter break I pretty much just did what I described before, relax and watch Law and Order ( I know I sound obsessed and I am). Hopefully this summer I can get an internship geared towards my career, and I assume like everybody else is hoping, I hope that the worst of this pandemic has passed and maybe I’ll be able to enjoy some summer activities with family and friends.¬†

Random selfie
19th Birthday Picture

As a reader/writer/ thinker I believe my strengths are how well I can imagine and articulate things in my head. And then I take those thoughts and write them down . I feel like I relay my ¬†thoughts better writing them down (usually in my notes app on my phone) compared to saying it out loud. My weakness though is how fast paced my mind is, so sometimes it is hard to convey what I what I’m feeling because there is so many thoughts being processed, which also ties into why I feel like I’m not the best speaker. I’m pretty good at using technology, I know the basics, and I used Zoom and Open Lab (slightly) in previous classes before. My favorite genre of literature is young adult, I’ve actually been trying to branch out into other genres but nothing brings me great nostalgia like reading a young adult books. I’ve read a few self help books, actually I’m currently reading Atomic Habits by James Clear. I like dabbling in self help books occasionally because I feel like it can never hurt to learn something new even if I don’t necessarily agree with it. That’s why I was interested in taking this class because not only does it seem like a class I never took before, I also feel it will help me not only interpret this genre of books, but also find a new appreciation for them.

Robby Deleon Introduction

Hello, My name is Robby Deleon and I am a Sophomore at New York City College of Technology studying Liberal Arts. Before I start I want to just point out I’m a very boring person and not interesting at all. So starting with my background, it’s as you guessed, boring. I was born and raised in NYC and I dont know much about my ethnical background, all I know is I’m black. I didn’t choose a major specific to a future job because I already knew I only wanted 60 credits so I can be a police officer. So because of that I chose the major that I thought would be the easiest (I was wrong).¬† As of now I have 3 classes left until I get those 60 credits but I’m only taking 2 classes this semester because the 3rd class is the class that has caused me so much pain, “Math 1275co”. Alot of people reading this would probably laugh at this considering how good at math some people are but I have¬† taken Math 1275co 4 times which resulted in me dropping it 3 times and failing it once. For the first time ever I’m gonna dedicate an entire semester into one class hoping that will do the trick. I blame the virus though because in-person tutoring had me at a good passing grade and then everything shutdown and I fell off.

So that’s how school is going, outside of school I literally do nothing. I mentioned this in the 5 minute free write but I am very lazy, and I would probably have more going for me if I wasn’t. It’s not all bad though, this past winter break I got a job as security and learned alot of necessary life skills. I also learned I hate working so the rest of my life is looking pretty rough for me. As for my hobbies, I can’t say it’s anything interesting. I mostly just relax at home watching shows, movies and playing video games. Some of the shows I really like are Boy Meets World, Rick And Morty, and One Punch Man along with many other anime. As for movies I really liked Scarface, The Godfather, and The Wolf of Wallstreet.¬† I used to play alot of basketball but the older I got the more work it seemed to get up and walk to the basketball court (Which by the way is across the street from me).

The thing I like about writing & reading is there aren’t many wrong answers opposed to math which only ever has one right answer which is why I’m so bad at it. But writing & reading allows alot of thought to go into whatever is being written which is satisfying in a way. What I dislike about writing & reading is what books have and thats the amount of detail that is sometimes required. I understand the author likes to give the reader a good idea of the what they’re reading but I doubt the reader cares what color shoes a certain character is wearing or what the painting looks like on a completely unrelated wall. I feel like my strengths in writing & reading is comprehension and creativity but my weaknesses come from grammar and disinterest in what I may be reading which leads to a lack of comprehension. My favorite genre of literature would probably be Sci-fi as that seems to be the most interesting. I don’t have a favorite text because in all honesty I do not read.

Self-Help sounds like what people do when they have no one to¬† help them with something or when they do not want help from others. I know thats probably wrong because if thats true then I dont know what type of literature would be able to correspond with that idea to create “Self-Help Literature”. As boring as I make literature sound, I’ll admit the most interesting courses ive taken were all english classes. I don’t know if it’s because literature is actually interesting to me or if it’s because compared to classes like Biology anything is interesting. So for this semester I do expect a pretty interesting class. I do have one question, did I write too much because I feel like I overdid it.

Crystal Pichardo Introduction



(Me at 2 years old in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic)

My name is Crystal Pichardo. ¬†I am 21 years old, born in New York city, and I’m of Hispanic (Dominican) descent. ¬†

When I first applied to college I had no idea what to major in, let alone what career choice to purse, so I just settled with Liberal Arts. Even though I am currently unemployed,¬†I have always been interested in jobs that allows for interacting with others or helping them with their problems. ¬†Once I’m finished with my major’s requirements I plan on applying to the radiology program here at City Tech, and hopefully become a radiology tech in the near future.

A few of my interests include watching my favorite shows when I’m free like The Challenge, Handmaid’s Tale, You, and Bob’s Burgers to name a few. ¬†Some of my favorite movies are Superbad, 30mins or Less, and Get Out. ¬†And I openly listen to all genres of music– so I don’t judge anyone’s music taste. ¬†My top 5 artists (in no specific ranking) would ¬†include the Beatles, Kid Cudi, James Blake, Homeshake, and Sade. ¬†I don’t read as much as I used to before but my favorite playwrights and plays are Arthur Miller (All My Sons), Eugene O’Neil (Long Day’s Journey Into Night), and Tennessee Williams (A Street Car Named Desire).

Before the pandemic, I would go to the gym a few times a week but I’ve since just switched to working out at home. ¬†Some activities I also enjoyed include rollerskating, going to movie theaters/restaurants/museums, planning trips, and just hanging out with friends and family whenever I wanted to.

Since my freshman year of high school, English was always one of my favorite subjects.  This was mainly because I always ended up with the nicest teachers and I also loved all the novels we had to read and discuss.  As a writer,  my strength is in how descriptive I can be and that I am able to get my arguments across.  My weakness would be procrastinating and getting too detailed sometimes. As a reader, my strength is in paying attention to details and my weakness can sometimes be reading too fast and not fully enjoying a novel.  And as a thinker, my strength is in comprehending the message of a story.  My weakness is overthinking.

Before this class I’ve never had to use OpenLab but I have had classes on Zoom last semester. ¬†I joined this course because it seemed the most interesting even though I don’t know what it entails. ¬†I believe the purpose of this course is to help us each become better writers, readers, and thinkers through different assignments. ¬† And I hope that by the end of this semester I become a better writer and speaker than I am today.



Reem Saleh Introduction

My name is Reem Saleh, I am a sophomore student at New York City College of Technology, majoring in Liberal Arts. I was born and raised in Brooklyn.. BROOKLYN STRONG! New York City is a world of its own I even refer it as United States of New York. Although this strong pride in my city I am a big traveler. A fact I would consider interesting about myself is, I have been to 5 out of the 7 continents and am hoping to complete 7 out of 7 hopefully soon. The most recent place I have been to is Croatia, if you’re a fan of Game of Thrones a fun fact is the city of Dubrovnik in Croatia is actually Kings Landing!

Other than traveling I enjoy, art, design, fashion, music, and food! I am a huge foodie, most of my travel destinations are chosen based on their unique cuisines. Recently I have gotten into graphic design by just free drawing on a painter app I randomly downloaded one day. I started doing sketches and drawing and posted it to my social media from that I received many comments and inquiries from my followers to which I started my own art page! I am now looking into the Graphic Design field as a future career option which I am very excited about!

A word I would use to describe myself would be creative, many of the things I enjoy doing are creative. Doing things where I can just express myself how ever I want in the way that I want. Writing is one of those things. I enjoy writing, how freeing it feels to put a pen to paper and just let the thoughts flow. I would say enthusiasm and feeling would be my strong suit within writing but when it comes to proper grammar and punctuation you’ve lost me.¬† As writing feels so freeing and the feeling of letting everything out on paper feels releasing, punctuation almost feels like a boulder blocking all of that. I would really like to work on learning proper grammar and punctuation within my writing. My favorite pieces ever written are by Jane Austen, Emma being my favorite. My interests in genres typically vary but one genre I can say usually catches my interest is Country House. I am more of a visual person so I enjoy the broadway re-enactments of the stories within that genre.

I am very excited to be taking this course, self help isn’t a typical thing you see within courses, although it should be. Self help and self awareness is a huge thing that often times is forgotten. I think all books, short stories, movies, TV shows and games all include self help in one way or another. I don’t think something has to be particularly labeled as self help or self help literature as we are all different, what we find helps us could be anything. I think this course will help explore more deeply into self help and display the different ways of obtaining and being aware of self help. I believe self help is connected to everything we do in life from our majors to our day to day lives. I see self help improving and connecting me to knowing myself better which hopefully will lead me to choosing and doing whats best for me.

I have used Open Lab for two prior english courses, this course will be my third! I am excited for this course and am looking forward to exploring self help.

Courtney LaGrange Introduction

¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†My name is Courtney LaGrange I am from Louisiana and both of my parents are French. Although I knew both of my parents , I was mainly raised by my paternal grandmother. I am the oldest out of three on my mother’s side and who really knows on my father’s side. Being between Louisiana and New York since I was 19 was in part a rebellion of having to move with my mother also to explore and find that essence of home everyone speaks of that I never really acquired thus far in life. Throughout my life I love fishing , hunting, museums, art galleries, and marathons for charities the most. The benefit of living in the five boroughs there is exposure to different cultures and beliefs that I really enjoy as well. Coming from a strict Catholic family that also allowed exposure to other religions was definitely an advantage of tolerance for me and later on lead me to my current Buddhist beliefs.¬†

Growing up I aspired to be a forensic annalist or pathologist. That shortly changed after seeing some of my close friends and family wronged by the justice system.¬† Shortly after entering my 20’s I gained an interest in the medical field due to my list of diagnosis that tarnished my 21st birthday.¬† Schizencephaly was the diagnosis that steered me toward medical imaging ,but just imaging wouldn’t be enough so I started to lay out a career ladder for myself.¬† Schizencephaly is a rare birth defect and in essence occurs when a fetus has a stroke. In result it forms a cleft or gap in one or both hemispheres of the brain. 1 in every 100,000 births have it and most of the are not functioning at the extent I can. Motor skills are mainly affected. Because of this I’ve decided to start with nursing ,but not your typical RN. Radiology nursing would get me in the door to interact with a variety of patients and neurology would be my end goal. Out of the 1 in every 100,000 I am a part of 17percent of that ratio and I want to find out why. I find out if I will be accepted in the radiology program or nursing program at the end of spring. Who knows which one I will choose if both choose me.

During the breaks from school I mainly work as usual. My position is formally known as a Fire Life and Safety Director.¬† It’s basically a security position with a responsibility of enforcing local fire codes and laws for the particular building you are in. I work overnight so I can go to school among other things. When I am not at work I am spending time with my rescues. Bentely is now 5 going on 6 months and was my first rescue this past August. I knew he needed me as much as I needed him. The first few weeks and five different medications later my little boy is health ,but would cry histerically when the stray cat at our window seal would leave. I began to look through other potential rescues and found NiKlaus. It couldn’t have been better than how we are now. I plan to make my two yearly trips with them I normally take within the states this year.

Writing for me has always been hard because of some of my grammar and syntax issues. I like to ramble on and forget about proper punctuation or spelling sometimes for that matter.  It is a realseas that feels as if the roller coaster feeling will never end. I journal as much as I can being one of my diagnosis is neuropathy also known as chronic nerve pain. I understand now the passion that drives some artist through their pain and I would like to think of myself as the same ;motivated by my goals. I love reading true crime most of all even though any book will do. Going through the plot and how the character may have become the way he or she currently is . The fall out is the most memorable part for me.

This would be my first semester using open lab and I am concerned on how the lack of knowledge will affect my grade. Regarding self-help I read articles, books, and look at clinical trials to not only help with knowledge for myself in how to handle things in my personal life ,but how to help other throughout my career change to medical. My goals for this semester is to not only learn how to use techniques ,but look how others view and use the tips given. I do apologize if I went over on the word count ;I get carried away at times.


Ajah Shann: Introduction

My name is Ajah Shann, and I was born in Brooklyn, New York. My mother is from Trinidad & Tobago, and my father is from Jamaica. Throughout my life, I was always back and forth between New York and Trinidad going to school. My major is Hospitality Management at New York City College of Technology, and I chose this because it deals with the business of restaurants, hotels, resorts, amusement parks, as well as the tourism and travel fields. As I was growing up, I discovered that I love to get the adrenaline feeling of riding rollercoasters and trying risky stuffs or some may say ‚Äúlife threatening‚ÄĚ, along with travelling to different countries and states to view their beautiful attractions, experiencing and learning new things. Then there is my favorite subject Mathematics, which is found in Principles of Accounts, that is combined with Principles of Business. My career goal is to open my very own business in New York City in the Food & Beverage category like a lounge/bar, and an event planning business. I also thought about opening up a business back in Trinidad & Tobago but in retail because you get a bigger variety and things are cheaper here than over there. So, I would like to buy a lot of things here and ship it there to sell. I love to watch movies and television series, as well as travel with family and friends. I currently work at John F. Kennedy International Airport with New York City Health and Hospitals, as an Educator and Outreach Specialist. This job has me personally interacting with passengers daily who are coming from different states and countries, in advising them to fill out a New York State Traveler Health Form. Their information is given to the Department of Health and New York City COVID Test & Tracing Corps to contact them if anyone test positive for covid-19 on their flight, as well as to contact them in a few days on how they are feeling and if they are following the quarantine guidelines. I mostly worked and stayed at home over the winter break. I hope to visit Jamaica for the first time, go on a cruise and visited my family and friends in Trinidad over the upcoming summer break.

I would say that my greatest strengths as a writer is answering given questions in writing assignments, while my weaknesses as a writer would be in writing a whole paper based on entirely my own words. When it comes to my strengths as a reader, I do not have any because I do not like to read so I guess that would be my weakness. When it comes to my strengths as a thinker, I can not really come up with one because I tend to overthink, so that would be my weakness I would say. I do not really have anything to say about what I enjoy most about writing, reading, and (critical) thinking, because I tend to do not do much of those. I would say that what I dislike most about writing, reading, and (critical) thinking is relating to what I mentioned above when it comes to my strengths and weaknesses. I have used Open Lab for about 5 classes that I previously took, which consists of: ENG 1101, ENG 1121, HMGT 1101, HMGT 2305, and HMGT 2402. When it comes to Zoom, I have started to use it from since March 2020 when the shutdown of New York took place due to the global pandemic of coronavirus, for my classes at City Tech, as well as for my part-time CUNY jobs and my Summer Youth Employment Program. I do not have a favorite genre of literature, so I do not have a favorite text. I signed up for this particular course because it intrigued me since I saw the posters for this class in Spring 2018. I wanted to take it then, but I needed to complete ENG 1101 and ENG 1121 first. As soon as I completed both, I tried looking for this class again, but was unable to until this semester. My interest in self-help is knowing how to become a better self. I would say that I have not read, watched, or encountered much self-help texts, but I do try to ask for help from my family and friends when I need it. I do not have any experience with Self-Help Literature. I think this class is going to be about our mental health, emotional health, physical health, and financial health in being fully stable in all areas, prior to entering this course. Yes, I see Self-Help connecting with my major and career interests, personal interests, and hobbies in a way of becoming better in everything like happiness, love, money, etc. My goals and expectations for the course this semester is to understand the topics on how I can really help myself to become a better person for myself, along with my family and friends. I think I will learn and hope that I will learn all the things I mentioned above. No, I do not have any concerns, fears, or questions.

Getting to know Professor Belli :)

I’m an Associate Professor of English here at¬†New York City College of Technology, CUNY (City University of New York) and for the past six years I also served as Co-Director of the OpenLab, the college‚Äôs open-source digital platform for teaching, learning, and collaborating (the same OpenLab that you’re reading this post on right now!). One of my favorite things to do here at the college is to teach courses on happiness and well-being so I’m really looking forward to working with you this semester in this course!

I earned my Ph.D. from The Graduate Center, CUNY, and my research interests are utopian studies, science fiction, happiness studies, positive psychology, writing studies, digital humanities, American studies, and education/pedagogy (feel free to ask me what any of these areas are!).

I’m also a founding member of the Writing Studies Tree, an online, open-access, interactive academic genealogy for the field of writing studies, and serve on the Steering Committee, the Teaching Committee, and as the web developer for the North American Society for Utopian Studies (utopias/dystopias overlap quite a bit with science fiction, another research area and course I teach quite a bit here at City Tech!).

I stumbled upon this cafe in St. Petersburg, Russia, and was delighted to see its name almost mine (close enough!). In Russian, it means "once upon a time" ...
I stumbled upon this cafe in 2014, in St. Petersburg, Russia, and was delighted to see its name almost mine (close enough!). In Russian, it means “once upon a time” …

Fun facts about your professor? I played ice hockey in college (right wing), and have played the violin since I was two years old (and currently play with the Brooklyn Symphony Orchestra¬†… this past winter we went on tour in Mexico City, which was an amazing experience!). I adore watching old sitcoms from the 70s and 80s (some of my favorites are Maude, Rhoda, Soap, and, most especially, The Golden Girls–I even wrote a chapter on this show in a fantastic book about sitcoms and American culture!). I’m not stuck in the past though, and¬† enjoy contemporary shows too. Some of my favorites in current rotation are Westworld, Jane the Virgin, and Grace & Frankie.

I also really enjoy traveling: some summers ago (when that photo above is from) I spent five weeks wandering abroad, in Russia, Finland, Czech Republic, and Switzerland. Recently (pre-pandemic), I was able to spend time in Berlin, Puerto Rico, and Mexico City. What amazing experiences! I know that travel isn’t possible right now, but I hope to make it to Nepal and Bhutan when exploring the world is an option again.

I look forward to your reading your Introductions and getting to know you, through these posts and our online class sessions, as the semester progresses, and to discussing all-things-self-help together over the coming months! :)

Creating your Introduction Post

Introduction Posts (HW for Wednesday, 2/3)

In order to start exploring our OpenLab course site, getting comfortable with posting/adding media (blogging), practicing reflective writing, and getting to know one another, each student will create an initial post that introduces herself to the class.

*This Introductory Post is due no later than Wednesdays, 2/3, but I encourage you make this initial post as soon as possible to become comfortable with OpenLab and to give others a chance to learn a bit about you.

Content of Posts
Tell us a bit about yourself ‚Ķ what are your interests, hobbies, desires? Current job or internship? Career goals? What did you do over winter break? What do you hope to do over the upcoming summer break? Share some photos of you (you can either pull a photo from the web if you have one up there, upload one from your computer, or … you can even take one with your smartphone right now!) and maybe even your family, friends, neighborhood, etc. Practice adding a link and maybe even a video to your post too.

At the end of your post, include at least paragraph addressing address the following questions (not necessarily in this order):

  • What your strengths & weaknesses as a writer, reader, & thinker?
  • What do you enjoy most about writing, reading, & (critical) thinking?
  • What do you disklike most about writing, reading, & (critical) thinking?
  • What is your background with using OpenLab, Zoom, & technology more generally (it’s OK if you don’t have any!)?
  • What is your favorite genre of literature?
  • What is your favorite text?
  • What‚Äôs your experience with (and interest in) Self-Help Literature (don‚Äôt do any research for this ‚Ķ just state what you think it is, prior to entering the course)? Favorite books, short stories, movies, TV shows, games?
  • How do you see Self-Help connecting with your major and career interests (&/or personal interests, hobbies)?
  • What are your expectations for this course/semester (what you think you will learn and what you hope you will learn)? Any concerns or fears? Any questions?

Categorizing/Commenting on Posts
Don’t forget to¬†categorize your post as “Introductions”¬†(and uncheck “Uncategorized” if it is checked already by default).¬†If you forget to do so before you “publish” you post, you can go back and edit/update it after the fact.

I made an Introductory post about myself (if I’m asking you to share some of your personality/background with the class, it’s only fair that I do the same!), so you can get to know me a bit better as well and also so you get a sense of what this type of post might look like/include.

Before our next class (on Thursday, 2/4) browse through everyone’s posts (if you choose the “Introductions” category for the right side of the homepage, or “Introductions” from the dropdown in the “Discussion & Community” in the top navigation, you will be taken to all of these posts, and drop comments to get some conversation going and start building our class community for the semester!