• Hello everyone! I enjoyed introducing the new blog at Morning Muster today. "People at East-West" will be a new feature on the blog. Every week or so, we will interview someone at East-West and open the comments to questions. I'd like to start things off with a longer self-introduction:

    I was born in New York City and grew up in Jackson Heights and Flushing in Queens. When I was in 7th grade, I became a TEAK Fellow and went to Friends Seminary for high school. During that time, I started becoming very interested in Japanese culture, especially anime and manga, and started an anime club with my friends. At lunch time, we would sit together and try to learn Japanese on our own from old textbooks we found. I wish there was an East-West when I was younger!

    When I went to Wesleyan University, I had the opportunity to study anything I wanted and in greater depth than I ever had before, so I chose to major in East Asian Studies with a concentration in Japanese language and literature. In college, there are so many ways to get involved with things you're interested in. I became co-chair of the Japan Society (Japanese culture club) and Anime Club, and studied how to play taiko (Japanese drumming) and the dizi (Chinese flute). I also studied abroad for a year in Kyoto, Japan and Dharamsala, India.

    After I graduated from college, I wanted to travel and help people. I decided to do two years of AmeriCorps, a national service program that lets you work and travel across the country while earning money to pay off tuition or school loans. With AmeriCorps NCCC, I lived in Texas, Arkansas, Colorado, and Alabama and had projects ranging from building a bridge in a national park to tutoring at a children's hospital. When I was in the Washington Reading Corps in Seattle, WA, I worked as a literacy tutor at an elementary international school and learned more about social justice.

    As a Community Associate, I enjoy learning about how to help people work together to accomplish great things. Studying a language helps me improve that skill. Even though I don't use my Japanese as much anymore, it's still an important part of my life. Studying Japanese and living abroad helped me understand that everyone looks at the world in their own way and you must be humble and open enough to learn how to communicate in their language. Immersing yourself in a different way of thinking, living, and communicating takes courage and forces you to step outside your comfort zone. I am impressed that all 590 students at East-West have made that commitment by intensively studying a language and culture for every year they are here.

    Random facts:

    - I speak Cantonese with my family.
    - My favorite TV shows are Battlestar Galactica, Full Metal Alchemist, and Dae Jang Geum (Korean drama).
    - I love the color purple and wear it almost everyday.

    That's Ms. Cheng in a (very big) nutshell. If you have any questions for me, leave them in a comment!

  • Thanks to the hard work of Ms. Braverman, all 8th graders at East-West now have their own library cards.

    Along with being able to borrow books and media, did you know that having a Queens Library card gives you access to electronic resources as well? The eMedia center offers "books, videos, music and audiobooks. Spanish, Russian, or Chinese newspaper and magazines are also available."

    Here is a literary map of Manhattan where you can visit places that were featured in famous novels. It's too bad that there isn't one for Queens, but our favorite borough was mentioned in The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald:

    Over the great bridge, with the sunlight through the girders making a constant flicker upon the moving cars, with the city rising up across the river in white heaps and sugar lumps all built with a wish out of non-olfactory money. The city seen from the Queensboro Bridge is always the city seen for the first time, in its first wild promise of all the mystery and the beauty in the world.


    Queensboro Bridge

    A postcard of the Queensboro Bridge in its early years

    Fun facts about the Flushing Library:

    • The Flushing Library is thought to be the largest community library in New York State.
    • The design of the structure won the AIA (American Institute of Architects) 2001 National Honor Award for Architecture and the building was included in the book entitled New Library Buildings of the World.
    • Flushing had the first library in Queens.
    • The one millionth customer came through its doors on January 20, 1999, seven months after the opening of the new building.

    Students from East-West come from all five boroughs, so the Flushing branch may not be their main library. But whenever they come to school, they'll know that a great resource is just a 15 minute walk down Kissena Boulevard.

    Which library do you go to?

  • Today at Morning Muster, four East-West alumnae came to speak to our students about life in college and to offer advice.

    "College is hard, a lot harder than you probably think it is, but it's a lot of fun," said Helen Peng, a current freshman at Syracuse University.

    The four college freshmen concurred that while their classes are hard and their schedules often full, college is much different from high school. They talked about the highs and lows of living in dorms and making time to join clubs. One big word of advice: "I wish I had worked on my writing more in school. You have to write at least 1 or 2 papers a week in college."

    Let's get those pencils cracking! Thank you to Alexis Gordon, Melissa Best, Helen Peng, and Hawa Lee for visiting and speaking to our students our college. They are from the class of 2010, the first class to graduate from East-West, and they attend Boston University, CUNY Hunter, Marymount Manhattan College, and Syracuse University.

    UPDATE: They will be returning next week to speak to our middle school students about college!

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