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


Yehya Balewa. Fordham Security Guard

By Jenna Lofaro

Sitting in the entrance to one of Fordham’s upperclassman residence halls is Yehya Balewa. an immigrant from Ghana. His job is to ensure and care for the safety of all residents living in his building between the hours of 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.

Yehya came to the United States 11 years ago. The Bronx is the first place he came to in the United States and he has never left. Yehya is a husband and father of 3 children. His wife left Ghana a year before him, and he soon followed with his children a year later.

When asked what the transition into American life was like, Yehya said he believes how one handles such a drastic change depends on the individual. For him, he found the transition was made easier by trying to maintain the same life style he formerly had. His focus remains on family and providing for them just as it did over a decade ago in Ghana. He says, “my children are my friends and that is all I need.”

Before Fordham, Yehya worked security at a different organization in the Bronx for five years. Now in his sixth year at Fordham, he enjoys the community of working in a university, especially when he gets the chance to work security at sporting events and witness the unity of the student body first hand.


The Invisible Janitor…

This is a story available here from the Washington Post.

The janitor felt invisible to Georgetown students                                        — until one changed his life


Georgetown student Febin Bellamy with janitor Oneil Batchelor. (Washington Post/Andy Hoff/UnSung Heroes)

By Petula Dvorak Columnist October 13, 2016

Every night, they had the same routine.

The Georgetown University business student would settle in for his cram session — soda, chips, books lined up.                                                    And the janitor would come in to start his night shift — polishing each of the windows in the study room, moving amid all those books and chips and sodas. Invisible.                                                                                         “There was this space, like ice separating us,” said Oneil Batchelor, an immigrant from Jamaica. The janitor worked around the students — many of them in their 20s like him, many with entrepreneurial ambitions like him — for nearly a decade before one of them finally broke that ice last year.                                                                                                     A nod one night. A hello the next.                                                                             And within weeks, Batchelor and the student, Febin Bellamy, were having long talks about being immigrants, about wanting to be entrepreneurs, about politics and history and music. Bellamy even went to Batchelor’s church and met his 6-year-old daughter. After he formed that bond with the once-invisible worker, Bellamy couldn’t stop noticing the others. “Once you see it, you can’t unsee it,” the 22-year-old said.                                                                                                                        The minimum-wage cafeteria workers dishing up food, the locker-room attendant scrubbing the stinkiest places, the maintenance man doing backbreaking work in the garden while students maneuver around him, heads bowed to their phones. It’s not just affluence, age and pedigree that create this yawning gap at a school where tuition and room and board run more than $65,000 a year. “Everybody’s in their own world,” Bellamy said. “A lot of students have good hearts and were raised right, it’s just not always easy for them to get to know people around them.” Each of those workers has a story. Many of them are immigrants, and their collective histories of war and flight and families left behind offer a master class in geopolitics. No tuition needed.                                                                                                                            Bellamy understands because these are his people. His family Continue reading

A Waitress Abroad – My First Job

by Noelia Sanchez

My first job was 9 years ago in 2007. I was a student, and a friend told me “Let’s try to participate in a cultural exchange for university students.

I said, “I don’t know! Getting a visa is too difficult!!”

I knew that trying to travel to the USA was very hard and sometimes you couldn’t do it. But my friend insisted very much until I agree to participate. While in the process I felt exhausted by all of the requirements they requested from me and all the money I spent. Soon, it was time to go to the consulate, and thank God I got the visa. The most curious thing was, that the friend who encouraged me to participate didn’t continue with the process.

Well, the time came for me to travel and it was the first time that I took a plane. Everything was exciting to me.  It was an experience that I will never forget. I went to Miami and I had the opportunity to work in a restaurant as a waitress.  The owner was Dominican like me. But it was a wider Latin restaurant.  There were a variety of foods from different culture, like all who work there.  We were from different countries, Honduran, Cubans, Mexicans, Ecuadorians, and Dominicans.  They are the nationalities I can remember. I had never been in a place where people worked together from different countries.  But we all tried and helped each other as brothers.

Since that time, as a customer, I am nicer with waiters. I understand the hard work they have day to day and how little they earn. There are long standing periods, many demanding customers or people with upset temperaments.

I only had 4 months of work there, but I learned a lot. I learned how to work in a restaurant, how to socialize with customers, the name of certain dishes, and how to deal with colleagues from different places. But something important that I learned was to improve my soft skills and my capacity to do my best.

My first job helped me to be more independent, work hard to achieve my goals and think about my future profession. My first job was the most interesting experience that I had.  It changed my way of thinking, and it changed my life.


Noelia Sanchez was born in Dominican Republic, and has lived in the United States for nine months. She studies English at the Harlem Adult Learning Center of the New York Public Library. Her instructor is Myrna Holguin. She writes “I am Adventist, with a strong trust in God, happily married and ready to conquer the world.”

Murder, Love, Obsession: Stories of Imagination


Myrna Holguin’s English class for adults speaking other languages at the Harlem Library were shown unrelated photos – a hotel, a drowning/rescue scene, three people reading newspapers on a subway, an ambulance, a romantic dinner—and invited to weave one or more into a story. Here are some of the results:

Murder in the Hotel

By Jennifer Ranfla

Mary and Paul met in New York City a couple of months before the murder …

When Paul met Mary, he fell in love with her at first sight. After all, Mary was very kind, beautiful and so smart.  Paul was a successful businessman and Mary was the new secretary in his office.  Paul dated Mary for many months.  One day, he decided to ask her to marry him. She accepted his proposal immediately, of course because she had many plans for her life.

One week after the wedding, they flew to Miami for their honeymoon. There they spent their days on the beaches and in the malls. All it was perfect! One night before they needed to come back to NY, he took her to a fancy restaurant for a romantic date. After dinner, they came back to hotel room. There, her real plans came true.

She prepared two drinks, one was very special for her husband and other for her. But Paul didn’t know was that in his drink was his death. She poisoned her husband’s drink, and after a minutes, Paul fell down completely dead.

She started very fast o clean the crime scene because she planned to escape to Europe with all the money of her husband.

She transferred all his money to her accounts in a couple of minutes. Then she took her luggage and ran away. But when she was running, somebody saw her, and thought: Why she was acting so nervously? While she was going to her car, the hotel employee went to their room and saw Paul on the floor.

He tried to save Paul, giving him CPR, but it was so late … Paul was dead.

The employee called 911 and reported all that he had seen

Immediately. The ambulance came to the hotel and the police went to find her.

Mary at this moment was in the freeway and the cops caught her very soon.

When she saw her situation that she hadn’t other exit, she only did a dump to the river and she couldn’t control her car. So her car crashed!

When the cops arrived at the scene, she was fine inside the car. The police took her out.  Of course, she went to jail to pay for her crimes. The crime was news for many weeks. This was in all the papers of the country.

She couldn’t do that because the perfect crime does not exist.

Jennifer Ranfla was born in the United States, but was raised in Peru. She began studying English at the Harlem Library in 2014.  She will attend LaGuardia Community College.


The Suite Hotel

By Alex Retroso

In the ’80s in Florida, one of the most famous hotels in the area was called “The Palacio del Mar.”

This hotel had the best lobby I had even seen, and six floors with amazing balconies with views of the beach. It had excellent food and the most interesting Latin disco of all time.

The weekends were wild and crazy because the disco nights got larger and larger, but when you finally got inside, you never forgot that moment.

Alex Reynoso was born in the Dominican Republic.  He enjoys politics and history.  He is taking English classes at the Harlem Library.


A scary week-end

by Francesco D’Ambrosio

As every morning, George was reading the New York Times in the train going to work. While he was reading he noticed a very nice black haired girl sitting in front of him. He suddenly felt in love with her. He didn’t know how but he decided he wanted to know that girl. He folded the newspaper, put it in his bag, stood up and went to that girl. “Hi, I wouldn’t like to bother you but I’m really impressed by your shining eyes. May I ask you your name?”

She was a little surprised at first but when she crossed her eyes with George’s, she felt butterflies in her stomach. “My Continue reading

Ivo Duarte, Construction Worker


by Matthew Kelly
Across from Metro North and Fordham University’s Walsh Library is Fordham Plaza, which has been under construction for the better part of the past half-year.  What was once a small pizza stand and abandoned lot is now being built into a marketplace for local businesses, as a part of City Hall’s plan to improve the community surrounding Fordham Road.

For the past six months a team of 15 to 30 construction workers have been in the process of building the new market, one of them being Ivo Duarte.

Duarte is one of the workers who have been at Fordham Plaza the past few months, as one of the various sites in the city he was worked at over the past few years. He came to the United States in 1998 from Portugal with his parents and younger brother at 13 years old, with his parents leaving their native country in search of a better life for their two sons.

The family settled into New Jersey where Ivo found the initial transition into American society to be difficult at first, but was soon comfortable with the English language while continuing to play soccer in the United States. He played soccer for a number of years while in Portugal and was awarded an athletic scholarship to attend private high school in New Jersey. After high school he briefly attended college before going into construction in the city.

Ivo joined the union 5 years ago and has worked at numerous sites across the city, including at the Far Rockaways, the United Nations building, World Trade Center Tower 1 and Station Hub, as well as in Central Park where he is still working. He finds his work in construction to be rewarding and today Ivo serves as a general laborer but plans on working for another 20 years or so to eventually become a foreman and site manager.

Outside of his work, Ivo is in the process of becoming an American citizen and has made a life for himself in New Jersey. The future holds promise for Duarte who seeks to continue his work in construction in the coming years. His parent’s sacrifice has given him opportunities which he may not have been afforded in Portugal, as he and his family have had the chance for a new life in the United States.

Brian, Restaurant Worker

Meeting workers in New York City

By Sara Gillooly

Brian from Golden Krust on West 14th Street, who prefers anonymity, said that, “working at a restaurant is very hard and very long.” He feels as if the work there is too much and tends to be boring. Brian has worked at Golden Krust for about a year and previously worked at another restaurant. His normal work schedule is during the day, which he much prefers to the night shift that he used to work at his previous job.

Brian’s education stopped after high school when he moved to America from Jamaica with his entire family. His family thought moving to America would bring new opportunities, which Brian confirmed it did; jobs were incredibly hard to come by in Jamaica. Brian is married with two children, ages eighteen and nineteen. He hopes that one day he will be able to work in other types of jobs in order to try new things.

Brian explained the hardships of transitioning from living in one country to another. In his words, “life is hard everywhere but here you have to do things you’re not used to and it’s different living in a modern first world country. There was a definite transition Continue reading