The Guardsman Online
Immigrants face difficult challenges when they come to the United States, but a City College program gives them important skills they need to become citizens and participate in the American dream.
Students Helping in the Naturalization of Elders is a series of classes in language, literacy and citizenship. Immigrants enrolled in the classes are also paired with student mentors who coach them during class and help them prepare for the US citizenship exam. The test is administered by the Bureau for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, formerly known as the Immigration Naturalization Service.
“The test can be very intimidating,” said Matt Holsten, City College instructor and Project SHINE coordinator.
“Learners need to gain confidence in English to succeed with the test,” Holsten added. “They must be confident in their interviews and understand cultural references interviewers may ask.”
Holsten estimates he spends about 60 percent of his time coordinating noncredit classes for SHINE. The balance of his time he spends teaching ESL classes.
About 2,000 immigrant students are enrolled in SHINE, said Cindy Ross, the project’s assistant coordinator.
Classes are 10 weeks long and run about two hours per class.
SHINE classes include literacy, native-language literacy, ESL and citizenship. Native-language literacy is for those adult learners who never learned to read or write in their own countries, Holsten said. For example, a Spanish speaker might need to achieve literacy in Spanish before progressing to English.
While SHINE was developed for older immigrants, about 80 percent of adult learners are in their 20’s, Holsten said. Students of various ethnicities include Asians, Europeans, Africans and Hispanics.
“We get some students who have professional degrees in their native countries,” Holsten said, adding that the educational spectrum spans from attorneys to physicians. “All want to improve their English and become citizens.”
Instructor Denise Jindrich teaches SHINE classes at the Ocean campus.
“The thing I like about SHINE is that the students have very specific learning goals,” Jindrich said.
Chinese student Li Xiaolin, 19, is one of Jindrich’s students. She’s studying English and hopes to transfer to San Francisco State University.
Japanese student Atsushi Koizumi, 23, is Li’s coach. He moved to San Francisco three months ago and has already learned English well enough to teach others.
Koizumi is an San Francisco State University graduate student pursuing a master’s in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages.
“SHINE is a great experience for me,” Koizumi said. “I get credit toward my degree as I help others learn English.”
BY BEN TAYLOR
With freshly sprouting grass on the sloping rooftops, City College’s new Child Development Center may look like something out of a Dr. Seuss book. However, the goal of the building is not whimsy, but efficiency.
The structure is a state of the art “green building,” with features including solar panels capable of generating up to half of the building’s electricity. The grass on the roofs is actually a succulent known as sedum, used for insulation purposes.
The energy saving features of this project make it 30 percent more efficient than state requirements for energy efficiency.
With its unique look, it’s no surprise that the center is causing a few heads to turn as students pass the construction site near Judson and Phelan avenues at the Ocean campus.
“It looks like it’s going well,” said student Erwin Tan, 21, who walks by the construction site on his way to class every day.
“The building looks very futuristic,” he added, though he said the noise sometimes disturbs him.
“I have class right by here, and it can get pretty loud in the mornings,” Tan said.
After almost a year of construction, the $4.5 million project is scheduled for completion by the end of the month.
Surrounding a 7,000-square foot outdoor play area, the new center will also feature an administrative building, a toddler learning environment and a preschool learning environment.
City College students who have children attending the center will also be able to take some classes at the center as well, allowing them to stay close to their children. An observation room will also connect to the preschool learning environment.
Coordinators for the child development program are hoping for the move to the new facility to be completed by January.
The building’s unconventional design is drawing praise but also generating concern among those will have to adapt to taking care of small children in a new environment.
“It’s certainly interesting,” said Terry Fahey, who works with the program, about the building’s eco-conscious design.
“I did a walkthrough just the other day,” she said “It’s a lot bigger than it looks on the inside, and there is a lot of natural light.”
Fahey added that although the new center has a lot of promising features, she is worried that the natural light could be troublesome for children’s nap schedules.
This is just one of many questions that won’t be answered until the child development program is completely moved into its new home.
“This is a living, breathing experiment for us,” Associate Vice Chancellor Jim Blomquist told The Guardsman. “We are hoping that we don’t regret it.”
“I’m ready, I’m ready,” said Madeline Muller, music department chair, as she drummed her fingers on the plans for the new $116 million Performing Arts Center.
Plans for the center have been delayed yet again. The center, originally scheduled to open January 2010, is now slated to open January 2012 according to Muller.
Voters have approved bond measures to build the center twice - once in 2001 and again in 2005 - but both times the college has had difficulty obtaining the additional state money it needs to build the new center.
“Maybe it’s all for the best,” said Muller, explaining available state funds could double by the time the college receives the money.
The 2001 bond earmarked $25 million for the project, but after state funds failed to materialize, the college reallocated the money to fund the Wellness Center, currently under construction near Rosenberg Library.
Voters approved another $70 million for the arts center in 2005. After reallocating money from other bond projects, the college currently has $85 million set aside for the center, according to Vice Chancellor of Finance Peter Goldstein. The college needs at least an additional $31 million in state money.
The next step is making sure the college owns the land it needs for the building.
Right now the city owns part of the reservoir, where the school plans to build the center. The Public Utilities Commission should be voting in the coming weeks to finalize an agreement with City College, giving the school the entire swatch of land needed to build the center, Goldstein said.
After the PUC vote, the board of supervisors will also need to vote to approve the transfer.
The state-of-the-art, green building “will change the entire college.” Goldstein said.
The center will house a 650-seat auditorium, a 150-seat recital hall and a theater with space for up to 200 people.
According to Muller, the center’s 30,000-square foot “living roof,” will be constructed using material such as bamboo, eucalyptus and African celery root. The building will be certified silver, based on Leaders in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards, Muller said.
“This is unheard of for a performing arts building,” she said.
It has taken over 40 years of campaigning to get proper facilities for performing arts students, said Muller.
“We are getting it the way it should have been,” she said of the center, adding that some closet-sized music practice rooms in the current building are not big enough for pianos.
Both Muller and Goldstein are optimistic about private donations for the new building, saying small-scale donors are just as important as a large fundraisers and major contributors.
“This is something people would want to donate to,” Muller said, adding that she hopes to start an endowment fund to accept donations from alumni, current students and other benefactors. The private donations will be used to furnish and maintain the center.
City College’s study abroad program is offering “Diego Rivera and the Muralists,” a winter break program in Mexico from Dec. 26 to Jan. 10, as a way to explore Diego Rivera’s works and his legacy on Mexican art and culture.
Greg Landau, a Latin American department instructor, will be leading the Diego Rivera program. “The winter programs are intense two week sessions full of visits to historic locations, seminars with local experts, lectures, as well as lots of informal conversations about what we are seeing and experiencing,” Landau said.
The Diego Rivera program was first offered in 2005–2006, and students earn six transferable credits to CSU or UC. Study abroad programs are regular City College classes that include semester, summer and winter break programs.
“We did some special changes based on the experiences we had two years ago and the students feedback,” said Jill Heffron, study abroad coordinator. “We decided that we want to spend three days in one city and two days in another.”
Mexico City, Cuernavaca, Puebla, Xalapa and Nautla are the five cities students will visit and explore. “Students will spend more time in Mexico City because there’s so much to see in terms of arts, museums and murals,” Heffron said.
Students who want to participate in the program must register for or have completed Latin America and Latino Studies 14 and Anthropology 11.
William Shoaf, a former ESL instructor, took the Rivera tour two years ago.
“I don’t think anyone can really convey the intensity of these travel experiences, but the itinerary alone might hint at it,” Shoaf said. “In Mexico City one visits all the locales and centers of inspiration for both Rivera and Kahlo.”
The program costs $2,450 per person, and according to Heffron, it includes most of the major costs except for some meals. The winter program offers a maximum $500 scholarship.
“Some students get $200 for financial aid and that’s all. These students either will have to find scholarships or they will pay a good amount of the program fees by themselves,” Heffron said.
Usually during winter break programs, 15 to 25 students and faculty can participate. During the program, students stay in well located, clean, but inexpensive hotels.
Margo Alexander, a returning student, can‘t wait to see Mexico City. “I believe there is currently a renaissance of art and culture in Latin America,” said Alexander.
Shannon Hart, a second semester student, wants to experience the Mexican artwork herself. “I’m going to study in Mexico to see the murals firsthand. It’s one thing to learn about them by reading text and reviewing photos, and entirely different to experience them live,” Hart said.
Studying abroad has many benefits, according to Heffron.
“When you study abroad, the whole world is a language lab,” Heffron said. “You learn about how other people live and about yourself at the same time.”
Rosenberg Library now offers instant messaging as an alternative way of answering students’ reference questions and providing basic information.
This semester the library launched an IM service that works from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Friday.
“It’s useful because students can be at home and still ask us questions,” said librarian Bonnie Gratch Lindauer.
By clicking the “ask” icon on the library Web site, students are redirected to a page offering a chat box on the library’s main IM page. Students may then
City College is one of only four California schools that offers the service. The others are SF State, Cal State East Bay and UC Berkeley. If a student has an IM account with services such as AOL, Google Talk, Yahoo Messenger or Hotmail Live Messenger, they can also IM their questions to the screen name ASKCCSF.
Librarians said the IM service has not been very successful. Joao Barreto, a librarian who keeps statistics of the service offered, says that throughout the semester they have received only 20 messages.
Both Barreto and Lindauer agree that the new program needs to be promoted better to the students.
“There could be other factors” said Lindauer. “Some people like to talk face to face. If it is something quick and factual then IM is efficient, but otherwise it is better to ask in person.”
“It sounds helpful, but I have never used it,” said student Chris Perkins, 42. “I think it is a good idea if you get a rapid response. If not, it is pointless because when you have a question you want it answered immediately.”
Afnan Sarsour, 18, thinks the IM system is not practical. “Librarians are more helpful if you need answers to harder questions, so I don’t think it is very useful.”
“Our goal is to help students, whether they come in and ask questions directly or use IM.
We are going to try this new system and see what happens,” said J. Lim, distance learning and electronics service librarian.
Next time you are in the City College parking lot take a closer look at some of the gulls that hang out there. There is a good chance that you may see one dirtied by the oil that contaminated San Francisco Bay on Wednesday Nov 7, when the Cosco Busan ran into a support tower of the Bay Bridge.
The accident released an estimated 58,000 gallons of bunker fuel oil, a thick, tar-like crude that is used to power large ocean bound vessels.
This spill is only 1/200th of the Exxon Valdez disaster of Prince William Sound in 1989. However, it is enough to cause considerable long-term damage to the Bay’s already impaired ecosystem and threaten locally rare and endangered species.
Two days after the spill Fish and Game employees were riding around Ocean Beach on four-wheelers trying to rescue any surviving wildlife.
“We’ve collected about 30 dead birds and maybe another 20 that are oiled but still alive,” said Jack Ames, a Fish and Game environmental scientist.
The beach from Sloat to Noriega was littered with tar-ball globs ranging in size from that of a dime to a dinner plate. The smell of benzene hung thick in the air.
A Snowy Plover attempted to feed on insects and other prey from a pile of washed up kelp covered in crude oil.
Snowy Plovers, a small bird inherent to beaches, are listed as a threatened species by the Federal government. An estimated fifty of the small white and gray shorebirds reside on San Francisco beaches in the winter.
Of the other three hundred or so birds present, about three quarters showed light to heavy oiling of feathers including Mew, California, Western, Heerman’s and Herring Gulls, Sanderlings, Marbled Godwits and Willets. Just outside the breaking waves a number of Surf Scoters, a type of sea duck, and Western Grebes, a diving bird that feeds mainly on fish, were present also dirtied by oil.
Reports from around the Bay Area indicate that birds from San Mateo to Novato and Stinson Beach were also affected.
The public response has been overwhelming, with volunteers turning out in such huge numbers that most have to be turned away.
Officials urge volunteers not to attempt to rescue wildlife themselves due to the stress this puts on the animals but rather to call the Oiled Wildlife Care Network at (877) 823-6926.
According to the OWCN website, as of Sunday night 545 live and 369 dead birds had been turned in. Of those alive, 126 were washed. Another 34 died or had to be euthanized.