Diary of a Former Nomad: History Repeats Itself.

a sign that says "THOSE WHO DO NOT REMEMBER THE PAST ARE CONDEMNED TO REPEAT IT"Coming back from the last few weeks have been tough. Each day I wake up wondering how people see me more than ever. I wonder if they base their judgement of me solely on my race, the curls in my hair, or my accent. As I sit on the train feeling alienated and quite frankly like an outsider, I recall a time where I felt just like I do today. When I was about 5 years old, I moved to Barbados and it was the hardest transition of my life to this day. Although the culture was similar to my Guyanese heritage, nothing felt similar. I don’t even think people saw me the same. I was different and people treated me as such. I was bullied and outcasted for being different; no one wanted to be friends with the girl who spoke or looked very different.

If I had known history would repeat itself, I would have paid more attention to how I dealt with it all then. I would have told myself to pay attention to the ways I kept my morale high, and the ways I found hope. As I look to my past for advice and answers to share about how we can all adjust to this part of our history, I find myself at a loss. Many of us have faced discrimination, bullying, and plain hate, but we thought things would different by now. Here at City Tech, we have such a diverse community. The hallways echo with many different languages and origins. The cafeteria offers various types of foods, students are mixed, and it is all working ecosystem. We all intertwine and coexist peacefully but in a time where that harmony is being disrupted, how do we adjust to this?

I think we have to take steps forward to accept the fate we have been given no matter how hard it is to swallow. Do not get me wrong, this does not mean to just let things be the way they have planned but to organize how we will move forward. When I was being bullied for being different, I tried to better myself not for others to like me but for myself. I looked to myself for comfort and compassion. In a world where not much is promised we can always seem to count on ourselves and our inner strength. We must count on ourselves to do better. What I mean by this is adjusting to this period in history will not be an easy road, but we must look deep within ourselves and figure out what we really want and deserve. As I remember the frightened little girl I used to be, I recall that I would tell myself that it would get better because I would make it better.  We educated one another on smarter ways to advocate for our rights and we collaborate on efforts to spread positivity. Together, we can change this! Let’s adjust to the idea that we can change this and we have to make smarter choices moving forward.

the 3 H’s of Halloween : Haunted Hotel/House

Halloween, a time for kids to dress up like something completely out of their character and also an opportunity to receive free treats from the community. But what’s in it for the adults? How about the college students? Well first there’s an annual parade put on in the East Village on Halloween in the evening. Then there’s the local haunted houses. But do you want to know something even better? City Tech’s Entertainment Technology Department puts on their very own Haunted Hotel every year! That’s right, City Tech students host a Haunted Hotel in the very “home” of the department, the Voorhees Hall. Free for all City Tech students to attend! It is not only an opportunity to get “frightened” by the flickering lights and random witches popping out at you, it gives you a chance to appreciate the work behind the scenes put on by your peers. This year, I attended the Haunted Hotel for the first time. Going in not knowing what to expect, walking in anxious to see the next room and get frightened.

Two weeks prior I had visited the Pure Terror Scream Park located in Monroe, New York. This was my first time ever visiting a haunted house and boy can I tell you I was spooked! From the moment I walked in with my group of friends we were scared by the workers. Visiting 6 different sites, one of which included clowns (my worse nightmare) I was freaked out. Taking us roughly 2 hours to go through all of the scenes (long line problems) it was an indescribable feeling.  Where in most times all we could was laugh. Despite the high ticket price ($50) overall the experience was extraordinary.

I would hate to ruin the surprise for those who are looking to attend next year but I will say this, put on your least favorite sneakers, as you will be crawling into one of the creepiest scenes of your life!

Below are links with details of both the Haunted Hotel and Pure Terror Scream Park

City Tech’s Haunted Hotel

Pure Terror Scream Park

Feelings of Home

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In the spirit of the Thanksgiving Holiday, reminding us of family and our childhoods. I thought it would be a good idea to take a trip down memory lane to a building that I hold near and dear to my heart. When I was a young child my grandmother used to take me and my sisters to this magical library in Greenwich Village known as The Jefferson Market Library. Before I even knew the correct terms to describe a building, I grew to love this structure not only because it automatically symbolized togetherness and family but it also amazed me how greatly defined the structure was; almost like entering those doors was synonymous to stepping into an entirely different era.

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The Victorian Gothic Building started construction in 1875 by architects Calvert Vaux and Frederick Clark Withers and was completed in 1877. The project was funded by the city since the building’s main use was for government and community purposes as The 3rd Judicial District  Courthouse. Vaux and Withers budget for the project was 3.6 thousand dollars, which does not seem like a lot of money in present day, but in the time period was a massive fortune. With a conversion of inflation, 3.6 thousand dollars in 1875 is equivalent to about 7.8 million dollars in 2016 (present day).

They masterfully crafted the place in a Victorian Gothic style which celebrates pointed arches in any form of entrances, stained glass, and other means of ornamentation. The courthouse had three different main floors; the top (second floor) was used as a civil court which now houses DVDs, adult and young adult literature, and CDs, the floor below it (first floor) was a police court and is now the specified children’s area, and lastly the basement (sub-level floor) was used as a holding space for criminals and prisoners, waiting to be transferred to jail is now used for resources. The bell tower was juxtaposed the main floors and was utilized by the community fire department as a watchtower. Also, the large clock that adorns a facade of the building was a necessary means for everyone in the community and all who used the courthouse.

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In 1927 the courthouse was solely used for women’s trials, dismissing its co-ed method of before and only settling women’s cases. After a series of changes of usage came upon the courthouse, it finally discontinued its use for court due to redistricting in 1945 (which was 75 years after it was built). The building was then used by various community agencies; including the police academy, at one point. Slowly the need for the building dwindled as architectural natural selection took place. In 1959 the once, one of the top ten most beautiful buildings in America in the 1880’s, was now completely unused and became a home to the city’s creatures. Something that used to be so beautiful was dejected to the pressure of being demolished to build a new apartment building. The area’s population thought the aging courthouse was an eyesore and depreciated the value of Greenwich Village. But the community officials did not allow this grim fate to occur and fought to keep the previously beloved courthouse. In 1961, it was later announced that the courthouse would be preserved and used as a public library. So under architect, Giorgio Cavaglieri’s supervision, the courthouse was spared and opened for business as a library in 1967; which is how we know the Jefferson Market Library today.

Now, every time I go to The Jefferson Market library, I think of my grandmother and how we would connect through literature and other discoveries. So on this holiday I will happily reminisce of the great times I had with my family in New York City.20160914_121029-220160914_121222-220160914_121418-2

Join in on the holiday memory lane fun. What places in New York City makes you think of family or gives you the feeling of home?

Apps to…relax?

a stock image of a woman in white, busy at workTake a moment to look up from your phone while you’re waiting for the train. What do you notice? Almost every single person is on their phone focused on an app. It could be social media apps, games, or even a music playlist. Technology has helped human kind advance in countless ways, but is it possible to find balance using it? For the next few articles, I will be providing more helpful details to help you discover that thing that could aid in your journey to self-care. I conducted an informal search for the top apps on social media to see the 2016 favorites.

4) Head Space: Sign up for a free 10 day trial to experience a personal mind trainer. Head space offers personal customizations for those on the go. Users have reported reduced feelings of anxiety, learning to stay present, and proper breathing techniques. A monthly subscription costs around the same as a monthly Netflix subscription.

3) Calm- Meditate, Sleep, Relax: Available for Android & IPhone is an easy to use app that, which according to my friends, has greatly reduced their anxiety. Some of them utilizing the app when they have a break to help them remain present and cope with daily stress.

2) White Noise: One of my personal favorites. This app features an impressive sound catalog of 40 sounds. Discover comforting sounds like rain fall, crickets, crackling fires, and more. You’re able to mix your favorite sounds to create the perfect ambience, and even set a timer. Normally I steer clear from using my phone a half-and-hour before bed, but if I’m too restless, I’ll pick my favorite customized mix and fall right to sleep. You can download the free version or pay a one-time fee of 99 cents.

Honorable mentions include: Words with friends, Meditation guide with Deepak Chopra & Oprah, Spotify, and Pandora. And drum roll for our number one…!

1)Power Button: Just turn off your phone. Sometimes technology can make us more stressed! Take a moment to close your eyes, focus on your breathing, and stay present.

Use an app to relax that wasn’t mentioned in the list above? Share your favorites with us!

-Sarah

Virtues from Motherhood: Tolerance

Tolerance. The word has been thrown around a lot these past two weeks in America. Post-election America seems eerily similar to a city that just suffered a massive earthquake, cracked. It is hard to ignore the division right now and even harder to ignore the lack of tolerance and regard for one another. This election was a high voltage one from the start for many reasons but the main undertones seemed racial and gender bias. It was hard to watch and harder to fathom how a country which made such progress on equality issues over the last 8 years could fall into such divide.

Before my eyes I watched friendships dissolve, families draw battle lines and a nation pick sides with what seemed like no middle ground. I couldn’t help but ask myself, what happened to respecting another person’s opinion or agreeing to disagree? I’ve always believed in picking your battles but suddenly every view I’ve ever had seemed like one. People were accusing one another, throwing stones and downright destroying the character of people both stranger and friend. Tolerance I thought to myself, how can people be so intolerant to political views? If that was one lesson to take away from this mess it’s to be tolerant of your fellow human being.

Everyone around you lives a life, carries a burden or hides a scar you know nothing about but that doesn’t mean you can be insensitive to it. In a perfect world everyone would agree, everything would accommodate everyone but the world is not perfect, and neither are we. We can try though, to be more empathetic and more open minded to peoples sexual orientation, life choices, financial status or where they’ve come from because at the end of the day our graves are all the same size. If there is one thing I want to raise my daughter to be it’s tolerant, open minded and observant. If I can’t teach her to open her eyes to all that’s around her I’ve failed her and I’d also be setting someone who can’t empathize with others out into the world.

So this week I ask my readers to open their own eyes, open their hearts and most of all open their minds, because a closed mind is a dark one and dark minds lead to an even darker society. Look at the person next to you in class, on the subway or in line for Chipotle and realize they live a life that may be a complete 180 from your own, and that you’re not any better or any worse than them for it. We live in a vast and beautiful country, but we can’t all live beautifully so long as hate is still allowed to freely roam society. Let’s raise our children, lets teach our fellow human being lets BE the tolerance, the change and the hope we so desperately need to see in this nation today.

Academic Self-Discovery: My Story

For some people, knowing exactly what occupation they want to go after is simple. They could even have it figured out from a young age. While for others, deciding what career path to follow is harder to do. Some reasons for this could be that they haven’t found their passion yet, that they feel obligated to do something they are pushed to do do; or that they decide on a job that allows them to make money while still in search of their dream job.

I am one of the latter. Before entering college I honestly had no solid career goal. Growing up I’ve always been pushed by my Caribbean family to go into the medical field because of financial success. Because of this, every time I’ve tried to construct a career goal, I make sure to make it involve something that is in that field. I did a summer program called ‘Upward Bound’ before my freshman year of college and I thought I would go to college to become a Music Therapist. I thought including something with music would fit- to compromise really- right into what I could enjoy doing for the rest of my life because I really love music. A little into my first year the thoughts of being a Music Therapist vanished. It changed to nursing because one thing I was always certain of was my passion to help others in some form. Not quite ready to be committed to nursing I changed my major to Liberal Arts and Science (still keeping nursing on the table but open to other careers in science). It wasn’t until a few months ago at CSTEP, a program here at City Tech that I was asked questions that really made me hone in on just where I could see myself career wise. Questions like “What ways do I see myself helping people?” allowed me to settle on two responses. One was becoming a Physical Therapist and the other a writer.

English has always been my favorite subject. As a child I enjoyed writing stories and throughout highschool I read and even wrote stories online. Writing online meant a lot to me because of the feedback I received from complete strangers that actually liked what I wrote. That was incredible to me because it was the first time I was really putting my craft out there for people to criticize and they in turn gave back positive reinforcement. My last two semesters in English have really brought back my love for writing. In the Fall of 2015 I took Intro to Fiction (2001)- I liked Intro to Fiction because I felt I got better as a writer and thinker due to having to revise my essays until my professor liked it enough. I also liked it because my final paper for that class won first place for the Literary Arts Festival in 2016. After that class I took Expressions of Identity (ENG 2190) and that course made me question and observe my surroundings with new perspective. It made me feel at home as well as growth.

I think the key to finding what career path one wants to follow is trying different things and analyzing if it is something that brings out the passion and curiosity. To me, that is what academic self-discovery is all about; to learn what gets you motivated. It might take some time for some and that is okay. What matters is getting to that point.

Introducing Jodieann – A Self-proclaimed Black Attire Aficionado

By Pamela Drake

Our Stories: An Intimate Connection Series

I am excited to start this series of interviews with Jodieann Stephenson, a City Tech student in the Professional & Technical Writing program. Jodieann is an NYC based writer, an avid wearer of black, a lover of life, and all its madness. She enjoys wandering around NYC searching for new coffee shops and boutiques to check out. As a fellow classmate, her passion for writing has led her to have her own personal blog, https://blackattireaficionado.wordpress.com/, where she writes poems of personal struggles including beauty standards or love. Writing gives her a chance to create, which is her next passion and which constantly inspires her craft.

a young woman in a black strapless dress

Image by Heloise Bymhee

  1. Describe yourself in one word? How does this word represent you?

Fabulous is the only word that comes close to who I am. Growing up, I had little to no confidence and I struggled with not being beautiful or smart. It took many years for me to become who I am now and that’s Fabulous.

  1. How do you balance school, work, and family demands?

I balance school, work, and family demands by doing it. Everything is doable and if you think it’s not, find another way.

  1. Who are your biggest influences? Who do you admire most? Who or what inspired you to do what you’re doing now?

Influencers, start at home. I’d have to say my mother has been my biggest support system and influencer by always pushing me to believe in myself and go after my dreams. There are two books that I read that have made me fall in love with writing and fiction which are “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” by Maya Angelou and “Americanah” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

  1. What tools or personality traits do you think is indispensable for accomplishing your goals?

I think it’s great to be a good student, smart and participate in extracurricular activities, it’s very great. But I think in order to accomplish your goals above anything else, you need to be humble. Humility is one trait that every successful person I’ve seen have.

  1. What is still your biggest challenge or stumbling block(s) and what are the best ways you’ve found to overcome them?

My biggest challenge to this day is stuttering and my pronunciation of certain words. I would really like to overcome my speech problems.

  1. What’s the best advice you ever received?

The best advice I’ve received is to “Always believe in yourself!”

  1. What would you have done differently if you knew then what you know now?

I would have followed my heart sooner rather than later. I spent several years trying to become a dentist when deep down I had a burning desire to write. I wish I had taken the creative path a lot sooner but life always leads you to what you love.

  1. What surprising lessons have you learned along the way?

The most surprising lesson I have learned along the way is that if you ask people out to coffee they are willing to share their stories and networks with you.

  1. What’s next for you?

I’m looking forward to graduating in June 2017, traveling to Europe in the summer, starting my career as a copywriter and blogging more often wherever in the world I am.

  1. What do you want your legacy to be? How do you want to be remembered?

I would like my legacy to be known as the first Jamaican woman to write about the Jamaican Diaspora.

Jodieann strives to overcome her stuttering. For many, public speaking can be a nightmare but that hasn’t stopped her from taking the mic and conducting her own interviews. Her approach is to practice constantly. Developing confidence in one’s own ability to speak correctly is probably the only real solution to cure stammering and although it can’t be cured overnight, time and patience rewards in the end. Personally, I have no doubt that she will achieve all her goals. Thanks to Jodieann for being so generous in giving this interview.

What are some of your strategies for overcoming your challenges?

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If you liked this interview, or if you want to be interviewed, or even to suggest someone for an interview, please feel free to contact me at pelsada36@gmail.com or leave a comment below.

The Freedom Tunnel

The Freedom Tunnel is an Amtrak route that actively runs through the streets of Uptown Manhattan underneath the famous Riverside Park. But it’s more than just your average railroad line, those tunnels are teeming with history and stories which will never be fully understood. A safe haven for the homeless and a sanctuary for graffiti artists, The Freedom Tunnel partially obtained it’s name from an artist named Chris “Freedom” Pape in the 1980s. When the train’s service temporarily came to a stop in the tunnel, he filled those walls with urban paintings, and even created remixes of classical works of art.

The tunnel also got its name because decades ago, hundreds of homeless people-now infamously known as “The Mole People”- used to have an underground society within these walls. They lived carefree, rent free, and rule free away from society in their hand-built shantytowns. Unfortunately, most of them were eventually evicted since Amtrak purchased and now utilizes this track. However, that doesn’t stop urban explorers (like me) and graffiti artists who want to make their mark or pay their respects to the work of Freedom. There are even still some homeless people living there as you read this. Because Amtrak has recently been trying to restore the tunnels’ original look, a lot of the most famous works by Freedom and other notable artists have since been destroyed. But within the darkness, underneath the rocks, ruin and rubble, there is still a lot of life, and tons of great artwork to be seen.

graffiti over train tracks, in black and white

A view of the entrance to the tunnel.

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Looking outside from within.

two paint cans and a whiskey bottle on the ground, against a turquoise wall

Tools of the trade.

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A deeper look into the tunnel.

a skylight showing graffiti by train tracks

A light opening from Riverside Park (while I took the picture here, I actually overheard a group of people trying to figure out how to get into the tunnel)

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These openings are sporadic the deeper you venture into the tunnel. I stopped here because it was too terrifying to go any further.

Mochi…The Newest Food Trend

powdered green tea mochi shaped into balls

Image by: Han N

One of the newest trends that has taken the dessert world by storm is mochi. It can essentially be paired with mostly anything, both culinary and confectionary. Still, while it continues to soar in its popularity, many wonder and beg the question, “what is mochi?”. Mochi is simply a Japanese delicacy that is created from sweet rice which is pounded until it becomes a paste. This paste is then molded into the desired shape and baked. After it has baked, it is left to cool for hours. In order to ensure that it maintains its texture, it has to be covered with plastic wrap so it does not oxidize which can alter the entire texture. It is then powdered, usually with a rice or potato starch into to avoid the pieces from sticking together.

The popularity of mochi ultimately comes from its very distinctive texture. It is soft, chewy, and gelatinous, which oddly resembles similar qualities of a marshmallow. But the mochi can be used as a dumpling in a savory soup or as a dessert like being wrapped around a scoop of ice cream. I find it to be extremely delicious in that the flavor and texture that it has cannot be found in any other confection. It has a mild sweetness to it so it can be paired with other desserts without making the entire dessert too sweet. It can be paired with ice cream or frozen yogurt and can even be stuffed with an array of different fillings. Unlike most trendy desserts, mochi is fairly easy to make in that it does not have many ingredients and the steps involved are not too complex.

Plain Mochi

Makes about 2 cups of small pieces

Ingredients:

1 cup sweet rice (mochiko) flour

1 cup sugar

½ teaspoon baking powder

1 cup water

¾ cup full-fat coconut milk, or about half of a 13.5-ounce can

Sweet potato starch or regular cornstarch for dusting

Directions:

Preheat oven to 275° F. Line a 9- by 13-inch glass baking dish with parchment paper. (Note: A 9- by 13-inch dish will yield a thin layer of mochi, only about 1/4-inch thick. For thicker mochi, use a 9- by 9-inch glass dish and bake for longer, about 90 minutes.) In a large bowl, whisk together the mochiko, sugar, and baking powder. In a separate bowl, whisk together the water and coconut milk. (Note: Be sure to use full-fat coconut milk. You can usually find it in cans, and it should be quite thick.) Add the wet ingredients to the dry and whisk until the mixture is smooth and no lumps remain. Unlike most baking, you don’t need to worry about over-mixing the ingredients, since mochi is dense and chewy to begin with. So whisk away! Some recipes even call for mixing all the ingredients, dry and wet, in a food processor all at once, and call it a day. Pour the mixture into your lined baking dish. Cover with foil and bake for 60 minutes. The mochi is done when it is soft and gelatinous but holds its shape when touched. (NOTE: A few people have reported that their mochi did not set. A few notes on softer mochi — using low-fat coconut milk may result in a softer consistency. You may also want to check your oven to make sure it’s at the right temperature. Also, if you want extra insurance, you can add another 1/4 cup mochiko flour to the dry ingredients, which should result in significantly firmer mochi., If you’ve already baked it for an hour and it doesn’t appear to be set, raise the temperature to 300° F and remove the foil. Bake for an additional 10-15 minutes, uncovered. Also, note that even if it’s soft and gel-like when it first comes out of the oven, the mochi will set as it cools.) Let cool completely or overnight. Dust a surface with your starch (alternatively, you can simply use more mochiko flour) and turn the mochi onto the surface. Sprinkle starch over the mochi. Wrap a knife in Saran wrap to prevent the mochi sticking. Using the wrapped knife, cut the mochi into small pieces, then dust again with starch or flour, and serve!

Recipe adapted from Food52

Humans of City Tech

“Don’t make a permanent decision for your temporary emotion.”  Sometimes, you overact in innocent situations without realizing what you’re hurting someone.  It’s when things settle, as you finally understand the mess your have created and the miserable feeling inside of you.  When it comes to my family, there are always something that is disagreed upon which leads to arguments and eventually fights.  In the end, there the ones who’s there for you at your prime, as well as your low point.  Recently, towards the end of my spring semester, I had loss someone very special to me.  This person is always the first to leave my house, yet the last to finally come home, after working so hard but still showing so much love to us.  This person would always bother me trying to wake up every Sunday to go to church.  On May 5th, 2016, around 4pm, I was beside his bed in the hospital trying to wake him up.  I don’t know why, but all I could think throughout that night was all the foolish things I have said or done that hurt him throughout my life.  I know this person has already forgiven me, but sometimes I just want to go back to these moments and undo my regretful actions.  I definitely have learned a lot throughout the couple of months.  One of the more important ones is to keep your chin up and maintain a positive state of mind. ”

a young man in a jacket wearing a backpack, and a baseball capMichael Lumentut