Public School Story Telling

WorkersWrite engaged in a project with City Lore called “A Life Well Crafted” to engage students in three New York City public schools to explore contributions of community activists and artists to their neighborhoods and city.

The program was inspired by the Clara Lemlich Awards given each year by Labor Arts and the National Writers United Service Organization, otherwise known as WorkersWrite, honoring women activists. The award is named for Clara Lemlich, a young Ukrainian Jewish immigrant who as a leader of the massive strike by shirtwaist workers in 1909, and by City Lore’s People’s Hall of Fame, honoring individuals who jave made a lasting contribution to cultural life.

Students worked with teaching artists to interview Lemlich and City Lore honorees, created portraits through song and spoken word poetry with some public events for families and neighbors.

Some of the songs and poetry are captured here and there is more information for teachers here

The project helped our organization to establish a partnership with City Lore that enabled us to achieve our goal of bringing our Clara Lemlich honorees and other community based activists to the city’s public schools. It also helped us to achieve our goal of raising students’ awareness of the important roles that artists and local activists play in community life and how the arts can be a powerful tool for civic engagement and social change. Students also learned about their guests’ career paths and how they used their art to serve a greater good.


Women’s Writing in the Philippines

By Marivir R. Montebon

New York City – My women writer sisters in the Philippines have given birth to a new news website, and I share their happiness and triumph. I have been in touch with them scarcely but as what women say they will do, the website is born, on March 7, a day before International Women’s Day! Here is to profound, fun, and quality reading to all people all over the world. Thank you to my friends who think outside the box, Diana G. Mendoza, Pinky Serafica, and Diosa Labiste. Welcome to our brave and safe writing space.

Dear Diosa Labiste, this is a long time coming. I miss reading you.

Diosa Labiste writes on

This social news site emerged out of despair by some writers, feminists, activists and, (as they call themselves), witches rolled into one. Some months ago, a news site where we honed our skills as writers and which we continued to support, through falling revenues, readership and enthusiasm, had closed down. Its demise was inevitable for reasons that we rather keep to our sad selves. It’s safe to say that it reached a cul de sac and the barrier was quite high to hurdle. But as the ink has started drying, we grew restless. We wondered if we could live without writing as women and for women. How do we recreate a community of women writers and connect with new ones. Is a community of writers still relevant in the age of social media when one can easily have a platform for airing one’s views and assemble followers who could click, like, tweet, retweet one’s words? Fake news sites, for example, would buy bots to make their accounts viral.

However a community of women writers is a different space. First, it is a space for teaching and learning. We learned that long ago when we were starting out as writers. We watched how seasoned writers polished our stories, taught us the basics, and tempered our idealism with reality. Second, it is a space of resistance. For example, our editors helped us make sense of the women’s movement in the Philippines and convinced us why writing about women crucially contributes to strengthening the struggle for equality of women and men. We allowed our stories to reveal various forms of sexual and structural discrimination as a function of societal differences like gender and class. Third, it is a space for empowerment. Through our writing, we enacted our politics and registered our protests against injustices and gender oppression that we saw and experienced in our lives.

Having experienced that kindness, it became apparent to some of us, younger writers, that perhaps it is our turn to do the same.

Continue reading here: 

Marivir has a blog at



On the Power of Faith

By Angelica Ingunza

There are some people you admire for something.  Sometimes it is for their courage or for their work, for their honesty or for their will to live.  That I will call “faith.”

That is the case of my friend Gabriela.  She got lupus before she was married.  She was really sick, but she always believed that God would help her.  Her boyfriend proposed marriage to her even when he saw her with no hair or nails, and all her body covered with bruises.  I give a  thumbs up to this guy.  Another one in his place would have left her as many that I have known did.  He demonstrated for her a real love.  He worked in the Air Force, and he gave her his health insurance.

She got treatment for her illness and one year later, she felt better and then the unexpected happened.  She was pregnant. The doctors had told her that because of her illness, she couldn’t get pregnant.  But she always thought that a miracle could happen.  All her doctors said that she had to abort the baby or she would die.  She took the risk.  She knew that God would help her.  Five months later, her family took her to the emergency room.  The doctors said that they couldn’t feel the baby’s heart.  They had to do surgery because maybe the baby was dead, and they would try to save Gabriela’s life.  She had only one percent chance of living.

What was the miracle?  Both lived!  The baby weighed only 700 grams, and she was put in an incubator.  Now that baby is 20 years old, and she is adorable.  Currently she is studying to be a doctor.

This isn’t the finish.  Eight months ago, Gabriela had an accident.  She broke her hips.  The doctors said that it was going to be very difficult for her, and maybe she would never walk again.  But her willpower and her faith made sure that she did walk again.

How much I admire her!

ANGELICA INGUNZA came from Peru 20 years ago after graduating from university in Peru as a graphic designer.  She lives in in Flushing, and studies English in the Consortium for Worker Education/Workers United Education Program.  Her teacher is Jackie Bain, and the program director is Sherry Kane.

On Happiness

By Marie Sainta Desravines

I am happy when I get paid.  I am happy when it is Sunday and I go to church.  When I buy a new dress, I am happy to put it on me.

I am happy when I speak English, and they know what I am talking about.  I am very happy then.

On my way to work, I am happy to buy my breakfast to eat before I start work.

I am very happy because my son is going to have a new baby.  I can’t wait to see what my baby girl is going to look like.


Marie Sainta Desravines studies English in the Consortium for Worker Education/Workers United Education Program.  The program director is Sherry Kane.

A Strong Man I Know

by Bakouan Kisito

When I arrived in New York City in November, 2014, I rented a house with two rooms in the Bronx. My roommate was an older African man of about 60. He had lived in the USA for 16 years. He is not tall. He was a Muslim. His wife lived in Manhattan in another apartment.

He works as a cleaner in a restaurant. This work is very hard and I wondered where this old man found the energy to do that.

He talks too much. I avoided him because when he start talking, it can take many hours.  He often wasted my time. Every day, he cooked his meal. He eats too much. I figured out why he can do a hard job.


Emanuela Caferri, Another Life Change



By Emanuela Caferri

I was born in Ethiopia, and when I was eleven years old we moved to Italy. I lived in Italy for twenty-six years where I studied, worked, loved and grew up. It was a very interesting adventure.

Six years ago, I  moved here to the United States where I started a new adventure in New York City.

One of the best things that has happened in my life, was that I started practicing Buddhism. I was 13 years old the first time I heard about Buddhism, and even though I had met many Buddhists, I never practiced.

But then, I saw a documentary about Mahatma Gandhi.  I was impressed to see this little man who was so positive, determined and powerful. I started to watch more documentaries about him, and I saw where all of this came from.

He was doing meditation and yoga.

I liked that kind of philosophy, and I decided to do some research. Then someone spoke to me about Buddhism. Two years ago, I started to practice, and I got a lot of benefit from it.

But Buddhism is not magic.

One of the big concepts in Buddhism is that it can help you transform your negative mind to a positive mind. It helps you to see your life with clarity and shows you the power that you have inside you to transform your own life. The Buddhist philosophy is based on the fact that happiness is inside of you, so you do not have to depend on external things like people or situations.

Meditation is at the base of the Buddhist way of life. It helps us to connect to the universe.

This meditation is not in silence- it has sound. We repeat the words- NAM MYOHO RENGE KYO.

These words that we use during meditation can be repeated as often as we want.

Buddhism has helped me so much.

One of the nice things that happened to me in two years of practice, is that I now have my own apartment when, before,  it had seemed impossible


NYT: Jobs Americans Do

The New York Times has published a review of work and workers in the Trump era.  A link to the stories is here.

Popular ideas about the working class are woefully out of date. Here are nine people who tell a truer story of what the American work force does today — and will do tomorrow. Popular ideas about the working class are woefully out of date. Here are nine people who tell a truer story of what the American work force does today — and will do tomorrow.