Tuesday, March 17, 2015

What Happened to Our Library?

When they closed our school suddenly, we were afraid that the books in our library would disappear.  Here is a short video shot by Dana Jae showing us (that's me talking) packing up the books.


And here are most of the books now, in my mother's basement!  Other teachers have stored some boxes in their basements too.

As soon as our campus opens, we will bring the books back.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Pictures of Civic Center Students and Teachers

Scroll down to March 9 to see current schedule!

At the Community Forum on Thursday, March 12, 2015

At the Rally and March on Thursday, March 5, 2015

Look at the wedding behind them!

At Supervisor Jane Kim's Office.  Thank you for speaking for all of us!!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Current Civic Center Schedule

Scroll down to March 9 to see current schedule!

Civic Center Chronicles

(reprinted from the ESLetter)

Since I am on sabbatical this semester, I decided to start it off by doing something I had wanted to do for several years:  volunteer at Ironwood Potbellied Pig Sanctuary near Tucson.  So there I was raking up pig poop when the texts started coming in saying that the Civic Center Campus building at 750 Eddy was closing down immediately because it was earthquake unsafe (as it has been, apparently, since the 1970s when the District bought it).    I don’t think any one of us could have been doing anything more fitting at that moment.

Built in 1910, it replaced the Cosmopolitan Grammar School which was destroyed in the 1906 earthquake and fire.   The new building started out as Adams Elementary School.  By the 1940s, the school served adults as the Adams Continuation School where, according to the San Francisco News-Call Bulletin, “all races and creeds brush shoulders as they seek a common goal - United States citizenship - through competent coaching."   The competent coaching continued through 2014, although the building’s name has changed a couple of times, first in 1967 to Alemany, named after the Bishop who is credited with establishing the first adult English as a Second Language (ESL) classes in San Francisco, and then in 2009 to Civic Center to more accurately reflect its location in the center of the city.

    Citizenship Students at 750 Eddy St., September 1941

Since becoming part of the San Francisco Community College District in the 1970s, the Civic Center Campus has primarily been devoted to ESL instruction.  Back in Bishop Alemany’s day, the student body was principally Gaelic speakers from Ireland. Today’s students come from over 55 countries on five continents, making Civic Center a mini-United Nations, only blocks away from where the UN charter was signed.  The majority of the students are from China, Latin America and Vietnam, with a recent surge of immigrants from Nepal and Yemen.

          As we struggle today with our current situation – Literacy through Level 4 housed in the Chinatown Annex; Levels 5 – 8, VOTP and CALL at Mission; some students at John Adams, others Downtown; and many, many having given up on school -- our thoughts and emotions remain in disarray. Here are some reactions and observations from Civic Center instructors and staff:

Our Student Population
by Vivian Ikeda

What I miss the most and what I feel is at stake by closing the Eddy Street site is how our medium-sized tuition free program, like so many other adult ed programs, has helped thousands of people get academic tools for better working conditions, better living conditions, and a lot of self-esteem.  We have been, for the immigrant population in the Tenderloin/Civic Center, the first people they interact with in this country and this encounter has been, for many, the difference, in terms of how they perceive life in the U.S. and what paths they feel they can take when they leave us. I chose this campus as my “home” because there are students from every part of the globe, every age group, every life orientation, and every background, all learning English in the same relatively small and old, but adequate, space.  Eddy Street was the epitome of diversity.  To have Eddy Street closed in such disarray was unconscionable.

The Student Perspective
by Sunny Ngo, Office Manager

Students call me regularly on the school phone and on my cell phone.  They want to come back here.  They miss their school.  They miss their teachers.  They are feeling so sad.  They don’t want to go so far away.  Many don’t want to go all the way to Chinatown, Mission or even Downtown.  Especially at night they are scared.  They are waiting for the school to come back to the neighborhood. 

Style and Design
by Beth Ericson:

It wasn't obvious to me a few weeks ago, but now it's clear: the two best aspects of Civic Center’s facility were 1) the light, and 2) the connection to the neighborhood. I love working in a building like CVC's, flooded with sunlight. CVC feels "friendly." I always thought I was keen on high rises, sleek and modern, but they have their upside and downside. The Chinatown Annex classrooms are a JOY.   Everything is logically set up (computer, ladybug, screen, projector -- all easy to use.)  But I miss being able to move around freely. I prefer the Annex's white boards, but prefer Civic Center's multiple boards installed on three big walls and being able to walk among students (furniture at the Annex is more "adult:" tables for up to three students; but too closely spaced together). I like the heft of CVC's old wooden student desks, in spite of being too small for 21st century bodies. Wood is friendlier. I miss my giant wood teacher's desk with the secret storage space (which I discovered after 10 + years.) 

          Whatever building CVC ends up in, I hope it has easy access to the outdoors. That was a big plus at CVC. I like being able to get outside easily. The sidewalks still feel pretty anonymous at CHNB. I miss the oldsters next door at Hotel N. on Eddy. They added something to my day. 

          So those are my random thoughts on the two places. I hope that SF doesn't become part of the sterile Disneyland-like landscape being thoughtlessly created as anonymous condos rise up all around the City.  

The Long View
by Gus Goldstein

When sheer luck landed me my first CCSF assignment at Alemany Campus, I remember showing the building to my now-husband Ross, a strongly intuitive artist.  His immediate response positive; he liked the feel, the ambiance – something about it.  It confirmed my own sense that I was in a good place.  And as I came to know the faculty and the students who had found this home, I knew even more strongly that this is where I wanted to be.  I don’t want to be guilty of over-romanticizing the Civic Center Campus at the expense of other locations; they all have their pluses and minuses.  But for me Civic Center has been the place I really want to teach – partly because of the closeness of the faculty and partly because of the diversity of the students.  It actually makes the teaching easier.  Students here have to learn English in order to get to know each other.  Their natural curiosity plus a few communicative activities in which they learn enough about each other to get started – these are the ingredients for more highly motivated English learning.

So when the remnants of my Level 4 class managed to show up in Chinatown for our first day and there were eight students from seven countries, I knew this was still the Civic Center, even though we were housed in the Annex.  (The class has grown, and so has the number of countries represented, but the class is still about a third of what it would have been.  The disservice done to these devoted students and their former classmates who are unable to join them is unconscionable.)

This is my last semester.  I feel a little like the grandmother who dies after the war breaks out but before the destruction actually arrives at her doorstep.  Everyone in the family thinks grandma was lucky not to see what happened next.  At least I will be privileged to keep working with a Civic Center population of students for the rest of this semester – and the rest of my career here.  But if this administration does not get its act together and find a place IN THE TENDERLOIN to hold our classes, the program will die. I won’t be here to see it happen, and in that respect, by exiting early, I will be spared a more agonizing death.  By the same token, that is why there is so much talk about keeping “our” students together.  We don’t begrudge some of the Tenderloin student finding homes at other campuses, but if we cannot maintain an identity, the Administration will surly find it easy to fail to follow through on promises to retrofit or rebuild, and the whole Tenderloin community – those who cannot make it to other parts of San Francisco to take classes – will be deprived of their right to a CCSF presence in their part of town.

I know the colleagues I leave behind are strong and adaptable.  If the Administration doesn’t learn how to work together with us and utilize our connections to the community to find a better interim location while 750 Eddy Street is being retrofitted – and that IS going to happen, isn’t it, Mr. Chancellor? – if that doesn’t happen, you may have the good luck to find yourself working with them at your campus.     

The View From Afar
by Sally Winn

Well, just imagine it my friends. At your campus flex day meeting on the Friday before classes begin, you are told that your campus is closed. Gone. You are moving. You will have a new schedule in a new location starting in three weeks. You can relax during those three weeks because you will be teaching a compressed schedule of 30-hour weeks for the rest of the semester.

          RELAX???!! Who will help our students on Monday when they arrive to a closed building? Who will pack up my 20-plus years of books and materials, not to mention the campus library and the entire contents of the realia room? To go where?! When???!!

          Although officially on sabbatical this semester, I had no choice but to leap into action and participate actively in the debacle that followed. I spent the next two weeks packing and moving my “teaching life” into my garage, along with a good portion of our campus library. I advised students on Monday, I marched with them to City Hall on Friday, I attended meeting after meeting, frustrated and angry and thoroughly depressed.

          I am now in Spain, attending classes at a university. Do you envy me? Well, don’t. Well, yes, do, but with reservations. I am locked into email exchanges and reports from my colleagues. I am deeply worried. I am fearful of what I will return to in the fall. Will my colleagues and I be together again or dispersed to different campuses? Will my students return or be abandoned? Because many of them are just that – abandoned.

          I missed the farewell get-together at our worn but much-loved building. I am unable to participate in the search committee for a new temporary location. I can only encourage and support my dear Civic Center friends to carry on the fight for our Tenderloin students. Won’t you all support them, too?  Heaven knows, we can’t put our faith in the administration!

¡¡Adelante juntos!!