bububooks

Helping children develop their American and native cultural identities together.

Posts Tagged ‘immigration’

Family Literacy Project Fundraiser a wild success!

Posted by bububooks on February 10, 2010

In November, we at bububooks decided to sponsor a poet, Jacey, for the 30 Poems in 30 Days Project.  The organizer, Northampton poet laureate Lesléa Newman, set a goal to raise $3,000 to help the Center for New Americans (CNA), a non-profit community-based education and resource center for immigrants, refugees, and other limited English speakers in the Pioneer Valley of Massachusetts. The organization offers free English classes, free literacy classes, free child care for students, family literacy, and many other services.

Jacey wrote 30 poems, one each day from Nov. 1 – 30, 2009.  She has graciously provided us with one to post here (and I like it a lot!).  The 30 Poems in 30 Days fundraiser raised $12,040.50, wildly beating Newman’s goal.  We were glad and are proud to have contributed to this noble cause.  Below Jacey’s poem, check out the press release for more details on CNA and the 30 Poems in 30 Days project.

Congratulations Jacey and thank you for letting us be a part of this project!

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This Lady, June Baby

Jacey Blue

Daddy found my name lint-thick
in the front pocket of his Wranglers.
Faded blue, classic cut, dusty as hell,
stacked over his life-worn Ropers.

Hands rummage past pocket watch.
Dig down deep for decent quarters
to buy a Pepsi to pass the time,
while I was being born.

It was sweaty hot and Mama,
was a hellcat, yelling about snap peas,
pushing and waiting, cursing,
crying for it to end and me to begin.

Daddy just wanted some cold,
fast break from that dirty heat.
Uncovered four 1980 quarters,
his wedding band, my me.

Doc shook his cornhusker
hands.  Daddy just smiled then.
Held me slow, said:  Blue.
You’ll be my June girl.

–Jacey Blue


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30 Poems in 30 Days Project Raises More Than $11,000 for the Center for New Americans Family Literacy Project

This past November, Northampton poet laureate Lesléa Newman issued a challenge to the poets of the Pioneer Valley: Write 30 poems in 30 days and find sponsors to pledge a dollar amount per poem to raise money for literacy. Not only was the challenge met, but it exceeded Newman’s wildest dreams.

“About 75 poets participated in the project,” Newman said. “Most of them were from the Pioneer Valley, but there were also poets from Georgia, Louisiana, Illinois and Colorado. Poets got very excited about both the challenge of writing a poem a day, and the opportunity to use poetry to raise money for literacy.”

Newman, who wrote a poem a day and raised about $700 on her own, hosted a reading and celebration of the project at the Forbes Library on December 2nd. About 45 poets read to an audience of 100 people. “It was very exciting,” she said. “There were several poets there reading to a live audience for the first time, there were poets who had published books and won awards, and there was everyone inbetween. Every poet and poem was greeted with wild enthusiasm.”

Jim Ayres, the Executive Director of the Center for New Americans, which serves families and individuals from more than fifty countries who together speak over thirty-five languages, is thrilled about the success of the project. “We are all touched by the number of writers and sponsors who stepped up to meet Lesléa’s challenge. The valley is very fortunate to have such a talented, engaged, and generous literary community,” Ayres said. “The donations raised will allow us to expand our early childhood staffing so as to increase the number of families who can benefit from the family literacy project.” The project  offers free English classes, free literacy classes, and many other services.

The Northampton Arts Council fully funds and supports the poet laureate position.  The “30 Poems in 30 Days” challenge was Newman’s final project as poet laureate. During her two-year term which concludes at the end of this year, Newman hosted a “Lunch with the Laureate” series, distributed poetry books to waiting rooms as part of her “Poetry to Wait By” project, initiated the Paradise Poetry Prize, and edited a bi-weekly column for the Daily Hampshire Gazette called “Here a Poet, There a Poet” which will be published in book form next year, funded in part by a grant from the Northampton Arts Council. Newman says she will definitely miss being poet laureate. “I met so many fabulous poets and poetry-lovers,” she said. “It was a fantastic opportunity. One of the highlights of my writing career.” As for the future, Newman plans on remaining an active member of the poetry community, while turning her attention to her own writing. “After all,” she laughed, “I’ve got drafts of thirty new poems to rewrite.”

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Themes from the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) Annual Conference

Posted by bububooks on December 1, 2009

I attended the annual NAEYC conference just before Thanksgiving in Washington D.C.  I learned a lot more about the strategies, techniques and trends for teaching dual language learners.  I also got to see some friends and make some new ones who are involved in early education.  Moreover, I got to see Secretary of Education Arne Duncan speak live!  Over the next few blog postings, I’ll be recapping some of the presentations I attended.  For this particular posting, I’d like to discuss four overarching themes that seemed to repeat throughout the various sessions.  I will expand on these themes through the specific postings that will follow.

Common Theme #1:  Teachers need to build positive relationships with dual language learning children.  Help them to feel safe and included. Oftentimes, every single thing is new to them since they have just moved here.  Even their parents are stressed as they try to get settled in a new country.  With everything so new and different (read: scary), a safe and inviting environment will help them to open up more in school.

Common Theme #2:  Teachers need to develop meaningful relationships with parents and families.  Parents and families from different countries display their involvement with their children’s education in various ways. Also, sometimes their current circumstances prevent them from being as involved as they’d like.  This does not mean they are not interested.  Furthermore, language need not be a barrier for a teacher to communicate with the families.  These meaningful relationships help to eliminate misunderstandings and further create a safe environment for the child.

Common Theme #3:  Be deliberate, intentional, integrative and committed with your communication strategies.  I’ll offer suggestions in following postings.  But certainly determine what your policy is for incorporating dual language learners and then set about creating a strategy to do so.  This process will include research and can even mean hiring a consultant.

Common Theme #4:  Support the home language and culture.  Dual language learning children do not come to your school as a blank slate. By supporting their home language and culture, you maximize their potential to learn, send them a message that they are not different, help create that safe and inclusive environment, and lay the foundation for a strong relationship between them and their parents.

I look forward to sharing with you specific details from the sessions as well as expanding upon these four themes.  In the meantime, Happy Holidays and don’t forget to check out our bookstore, where all the books are bilingual: www.bububooks.com.

–Laura

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“Perfect American English”

Posted by bububooks on July 5, 2009

From The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan:

Cover of the first edition

Cover of the first edition

          “The old woman remembered a swan she had bought many years ago in Shanghai for a foolish sum.  This bird, boasted the market vendor, was once a duck that stretched its neck in hopes of becoming a goose, and now look!—it is too beautiful to eat.

            Then the woman and the swan sailed across an ocean many thousands of li wide, stretching their necks toward America.  On her journey she cooed the swan: ‘In America I will have a daughter just like me.  But over there nobody will say her worth is measured by the loudness of her husband’s belch.  Over there nobody will look down on her, because I will make her speak only perfect American English.  And over there she will always be too full to swallow any sorrow!  She will know my meaning, because I will give her this swan—a creature that became more than what was hoped for.’

            But when she arrived in the new country, the immigration officials pulled her swan away from her, leaving the woman fluttering her arms and with only one swan feather for a memory.  And then she had to fill out so many forms she forgot why she had come and what she had left behind.

            Now the woman was old.  And she had a daughter who grew up speaking only English and swallowing more Coca-Cola than sorrow.  For a long time now the woman had wanted to give her daughter the single swan feather and tell her, ‘This feather may look worthless, but it comes from afar and carries with it all my good intentions.’  And she waited, year after year, for the day she could tell her daughter this in perfect American English.”

 

This story moves me every time.  The woman gave her daughter a better life in America than she could in China, yet something was also lost.  When would the daughter be able to understand her mother’s intentions or even her mother’s story? 

Last week, I met up with a friend from undergrad.  She and I are both half Korean, half white.  We shared stories about our mothers’ backgrounds in Korea, how our parents met, the paths they traveled to get to the U.S., our mothers’ antics as well as when we finally began to understand some of those antics.  I enjoyed our conversation and, of course, learned more about myself and my mother in the process.      

I am proud to be an American.  I’m also proud to be an American of mixed heritage.  I enjoy my life here and know I could not have had it any better in Korea.  Sometimes, though, I wish I could speak to my mom’s family.  I wish I could better understand where my mom is coming from, her point of view, her intentions.  I know that will probably never happen.  And I know that my future children will lose a lot of their Korean heritage as well.  

But what we can salvage will be worth it.  Happy Fourth of July America!

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