Freddy, Manager, Burger Lodge

By Lizbeth Brosnan

Burger Lodge, located on East 189th Street in the Bronx between Belmont and Cambreleng Avenue is a staple restaurant for Fordham students, catering to their desire for some traditional comfort food. The menu is large and diverse and the atmosphere is especially welcoming.  Hungry Fordham students can always be found in this popular joint.

The warm and welcoming atmosphere is something that makes Burger Lodge especially enjoyable for customers.

In talking to Freddy, manager of Burger Lodge, we learned some about his family and the history of the restaurant, which opened last February. Freddy spoke with pride and respect about his son, Ferso, who is not only a student at Fordham University’s Gabelli School of Business, but the actual owner of Burger Lodge.  It is easy to tell that he is very proud of his son for accomplishing his dream of establishing a popular restaurant for college students.

Freddy, originally from Macedonia, has lived in the Bronx ever since coming to the United States.

The best part about Burger Lodge, he says, is that “The customers are happy with the food”. Everyone is always happy with the food. Freddy explained how the customers are mostly students from Fordham. There is even a Burger Lodge challenge, nicknamed “Lodgezilla” by a Fordham University student.


Debbie Quinones, Coquito mixer


By Lisbeth Brosnan

Coquito is a coconut-based alcoholic beverage traditionally served in Puerto Rico. A Coquito recipe is unique to the family that makes it. On November 13, 2016, The Bronx Museum for the Arts hosted winners and finalists of the Annual Coquito Masters competition. This event allowed the finalists to sell their delicious coquitos at the museum.

Debbie Quinones, founder of the International Coquito Tasting Federation, spoke passionately and excitedly about the special Puerto Rican drink.

“The ingredients really represent imperialism. All the ingredients do not grow in Puerto Rico indigenously,” stated Debbie The ingredients include rum, coconut milk, sweet condensed milk, egg yolk, nutmeg and cinnamon. Although these are the main ingredients, “Every family has their own special way of making it.”

Debbie explained how “There is always that one person in a family who passes down the recipe”. For Debbie, it was a family of friend of hers that taught her how to make coquito.

In 2001, Debbie started the Coquito Contest in her house so people could get access to coquito. “The contest represents an opportunity to celebrate pride.” Continue reading

First Step After School

by Chunhai (Jack) Jiao

When I graduated from Northwest A&F University in June 2004, I got my first job as an assistant engineer in TianJin No.1 machine tool works. The government operates the company.  I learned the history of the company. I know this company was set up in 1951. In that time, the Soviet Union supported technology and helped train workers and technicians. So it is a big tech company. It has 2000 employees and 260,000 square meters. I am very proud for being a member of this company.

I went to the company on September 15th. It was a new chapter in my life, because it meant I finished my career as a student and I would become an assistant engineer. I was very excited in that moment. In the first week, every new person was organized together for training. A human resource worker taught us the history, regulations and rules of the company, safe education. Then we would pass examination. I met many new friends.  Some of them and I would work in the same department.

After training week, I stared to be an assistant in the development and research department that belong to one of the factories in the company. There were four senior engineers and three engineers. I thought it would be my best opportunity to learn new knowledge. As a new person, the attitude is very important in the office. I arrived at the office early every day and cleaned the desks, turned on the computers, and bought a daily newspaper for them.

Our supervisor arranged for me to learn with engineer Fu. Fu was a senior engineer.  He had a lot of experience in design machine tools. He was 58 years old.  In 2 years he would retire.  He told me I was the last one who he would teach. Fu did not ask me to do anything at first. He gave me a set of mechanical handbooks. He asked me to read until I could find which book and page to show him whatever he wanted to know.

These books were different from the books I used. It was a big task for me. At most I spend two months reading the books and I made a contents list for the parts that we often use. I kept them in my mind. I appreciated engineer Fu, because when I helped engineers design, I could find the standard parts from those books quickly. Even I did not need to look for them from those books. I knew the size of each part. I saved more time than other new guys who did not spend time to read those books.

Engineer Fu told me to not repeat a task the same way more than three times in the same job without thinking. After repeating three times, you should begin to think if there is a better method to do this job. So when other guys clicked an icon to use some function by the mouse, I practiced using a hot key in AUTOCAD. Because I drew an engineering drawing effectively, our supervisor gave me a lot of design work to do. After a half year, I could design some simple design jobs independently. My teacher Fu and I were advanced employees of our company for two years.

That was a good memory for me. In that period, I grew from a student and became an assistant engineer. I obtained useful knowledge and skills that will always help with my engineering career. Thanks a lot to everyone who affected me and supported me in my life.


Chunhai (Jack) Jiao is from TianJin, China. “I was a mechanical engineer in China. I live in Fort Lee, NJ with my wife. When I arrived at New York by flight in JFK, I was excited. New York is mostly like a big family because there are many people and cultures from different countries.  English is an easy way for communication between the people from different countries. I had learned English to pass an examination, But now I am improving my English for a better life in an English country. It is my pleasure that I can study English in Harlem library.  I appreciate my teacher Myrna Holguin, who is improving our speaking, listening and writing in English, as well as volunteers Julian Kalkstein and Terry Schwadron. They organized us to discuss topics in English and let us know many interesting pieces of knowledge. All of them were the best teachers who encouraged every student to practice and learn English.”

My First Job – Sales

 by Leo Li

I worked for seven years in my last company in China.  It was also my first job. People always ask how many years do you have in your life when someone is doing some job or something for a long time. Sometimes, I have also asked myself that question.  How many seven-year times do you have? It means if it is worth to do that for such a long time. It was a long time for me. But also it doesn’t feel so long if you look back.

I still can remember the first day I went to my interview. It was simple one. It was not so formal. Just some questions and I translated an article of the company profile. I was hired as a salesman. Surely, I was nervous. Everybody would be.

It was an international trade company.  It offered promotion products like ball pens, badges, cups, non-woven bags and silicon wristbands etc. But the most important product of the company was the lanyard, which could print a logo, company name or slogan on it with a hook on the end to hang a card or something else. This was my major product, too.

It was hard and boring at the beginning, searching for customers on a search engine website like Google, called Kelly search. I just found my first customer after two months. Some of my colleagues didn’t find anyone in the first three months. After that, everything became easy and simple. Customers send inquiries. I did the quota. I received the orders and did the design artworks for the lanyards. I got the artwork for approval and arranged the sample productions before mass productions. Finally, I arranged the shipments.

My major customers were from Europe, especially from England. I once got an order to be one of the lanyard suppliers for the London Olympic Games from one of my English costumers. The order quality was more than 300,000. It was an honor to take part in the most important games.

I had a happy time in that company with my friendly colleagues. Even to this day, they are sincere, easy to work with and there are no office politics between us. We are still friends now.


Xun (Leo) Li is from China,; now i am living in the Bronx. I like studying English at the Harlem Library with people who are from different places and with different backgrounds. And the teachers are very nice–Myrna Holguin and the generous volunteer teachers Julian Kalkstein and Terry Schwadron. The United States is a good place to fulfill your dream!

The Job of My Dreams

by Francisco Javier Llamas

When I was a child, I was always watching American films about “Wall Street”. Perhaps, unbeknown to me, I wanted to copy that lifestyle. I guess I admired that way of working. I admired the passion for accomplishing objectives, that ambition and desire to succeed. A place where if you work you get it.

At the age of 18, I decided to study economics at the university. I studied finances as a subject and the exchange and financial market was the best part for me. I was gradually taking steps to learn about this subject.

After five years working in a company, I chose to do a Master´s on Executive Financial Management. Intriguingly, during this Master`s I had 10 days of practical training in New York. We visited different big companies and we spent a morning watching the stock exchange.

After this trip, I was clear about the fact that I would want to work in New York. It’s been eight years since then. I convinced my wife to come here to work. She accepted and she found a good job in New York. Currently, my job is to improve my English. However, I hope my dream will be fulfilled soon.

Picture Francisco Llamas

Francisco Javier Llamas is from Spain. He has lived in New York City since December 2016. He wants to live here a few years. First of all, he has to learn and improve his English. He would like to do a finances related course, and then he wants to work in this city that he admires. Achieving these goals would be a dream for him.  Francisco write, “The course at the Harlem Library is helping me while I enjoy doing sports in Central Park. Will I finish the New York Marathon?”

In the Kitchen – My First Job

by Fernando Angelo Ixcoy 

 I think the first thing I can say about my first job is when I moved to the United States, I didn’t understand the language.  That’s why I could not communicate with others.  Let´s start.

My first work in this country was at the kitchen in a restaurant, which is a very regular and normal part of life for people that don´t have legal status.  I want a better job in the future, but I need to work in the restaurant for now.

The point here is that the chef is a native speaker from here.  When he wanted to say something about the job I did not understand and I could not respond back.  That´s why I understood that is necessary to learn English.

Fernando Angelo Ixcoy is from Guatemala.  He is studying English at the Harlem Library.  He hopes to go to college and study finance.

Safe and Sound – on the job

By Alejandra Bahamondes

I was 22 years old. It was my first job after I graduated from nursing school–my first real job. And there I was, frightened, anxious, excited.  I remember all the thoughts that it came to my mind the night before all the way to the consulting room. I was really scared. I think it is common to think you might fail when you are doing something new.  That was my case.

So, after all those terrible thoughts, I was finally there, in my own office, ready to serve the kids of the neighborhood.  My job consisted in prevention control for children until 14 years old in an at-risk population that included measuring weight and high every month.  I also specifically tested to measure psychomotor development and to advise mothers in issues like nutrition, stimulation and healthy habits.

When I finally decided to enter to the office, my first impression was that it was not good at all.  The white walls, the metal scale, the ugly desk were all dark, plain and sad.  That was the moment when I realized that if I did not change that situation, I would become a dark, plain and sad person.

Thus, the same day after my first day of work I went to a home store and bought several beautiful items for my office.  I bought portraits of brilliant colors, pictures; games for the kids, stickers that I thought were pretty in that store.

So, I was there again, my second day of work and I was ready for my makeover!  When I was done, I looked at the place and I felt happy. Just like that—happy.

That day, I realized that I wasn’t looking to work in a pretty place.  I was looking to work in a safe place . . . I was looking to feel safe, and so it was from that day forward


Alejandra Bahamondes was born on April 24 1984 in Santiago, Chile and worked as a supervisor nurse in an emergency room before she traveled to the United States. She arrived in New York City on March 6 2016, to meet her husband (Chilean too), who is currently working in Columbia University. She is now studying English at the Harlem Public Library waiting to revalidate her Nursing School Degree to be useful to the community of NYC.

Hair Stylist – My First Job

by Jennifer Barbero

 I remember when I was still in the Praga Academy in Madrid studying hair-styling in 2009. My course was ending in one month and the academy gave the students some directions for job interviews.

I did one interview. The salon boss was looking for a person with 2 years of experience who could stay alone in the salon.  Because of my young age and limited experience in the academy, he told me to please give my phone number to him.  He liked how I completed the test, and if he could not find someone better, he would give me a call.

After that, I waited for my next interview from the academy.  Then, on a website, my father found a new hair salon that needed new hair-stylists.  I called the number and the woman arranged an interview date with me in a bar because the salon was not finished.

She was young, around 30 years old, and we got a good feeling in the first interview. She told me at the same moment that I was very near the qualifications she was looking for and I felt so happy. After two days she called me, and then I started working 15 days after this call.

I learned more things from her than I learned in the academy. And there was my first contact with different products. Some of them were totally different than what I usually used in the academy, so for me it was so great to learn different methods in using products and how to cut hair.

Of course, you learn techniques in the academy but you really learn when you practice.  You learn more when you look at different people because each person, after years of experience, has different methods. So I tried to learn everything from her. At first, my schedule was to work 40 hours per week.  After two years, the economy got worse so my boss needed to reduce my schedule. I accepted because I understood what was happening.
Two years passed and I decided to come to New York and live with my husband. Three months after I started working,  the boss from my first interview called me, asking if I want to work with him.  But I said, “Sorry. I am actually working.”

That was my first job experience.


Jennifer B.G. , age 25 , is from Madrid, Spain. She traveled to New York in 2011.  She is studying English in her English class at the Harlem Library with her teacher Myrna Holguin and waiting for her green card.   She is looking for work and lives happily with her husband in New York.  Jennifer writes, ” I lost my mom at a young age and learned that you only have one life so enjoy it! Your moment is NOW!  It’s never too late to be happy!”

My First Job Experience – A Norwegian Cafe

 by Nabeela Qaiser

My first job was at a café shop named “Kefe Nytt” in Fredrikstad in Norway.  As my first time working, personally it made feel proud.   I remember walking in very nervous and afraid.  I took a seat and glanced around.  I saw my expression mirrored in my co-worker’s face.  Yet, our supervisor welcomed us warmly and even gave us snacks.

I was very excited, but also a little nervous.  I did not know how to talk and handle customers, as this was my first time.  I was afraid of making a mistake and messing things up.  I was very dedicated to learn my job fast and make no mistake so I could impress my boss, Astrid.

During the first two training weeks, I learned how to make different types of salads and soups.  Sometimes, I made mistakes.  I burned the cookies in the oven and made the cake very sweet. I forgot the foccacia bread two times in the oven.  My boss smiled with angry eyes.

But time passed. I learned my job and perfected it.  The customers started loving my dishes and soon I became a really good worker and better baker.

It was an enjoyable experience and I loved every step of it.  Having a job was a way of making extra cash for clothes and makeup.  It made me feel independent and responsible.  I also learned how to handle my fiancés.  I had to learn how to take public transportation, how to interact with my coworkers and different types of people.  I also learned punctuality and especially how to be with my boss.  In a way, it was almost like I had learned real life skills in eight months.

I will never forget my first job experience.  It will always be a big part of me maturing and becoming a real worker.  This job taught me to always have an open mind and be willing to work in any type of work environment and to always be respectful and kind to others.


Born and raised in Qatar, Nabeela Qaiser has been in the United States for one year.  She has a husband and two children.  She is a hard worker.  She loves praying, cooking, reading, stitching and yoga.  She studies at the Harlem Adult Learning Center at the New York Public Library.  She wants to improve her English because it will open new doors.  She gives special thanks to all of her hardworking teachers.