Three Reflections on an Inspirational Talk

Our Insiders’ PerspectivesLisette Nieves speaking the Colin Powell Center's end-of-year celebration.

At this year’s closing ceremony for Colin Powell Center fellows, we hosted a student speaker, Jamiela McDonnough, and Lisette Nieves, the Belle Zeller Distinguished Visiting Professor in Public Policy at the City University of New York at Brooklyn College (her alma mater) and member of the President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanics. Her speech resonated with a number of our fellows, and a few offered us their reflections.

Our Insiders’ Perspectives

By Simone Gordon

I had the pleasure of introducing Lisette Nieves, our guest speaker, at this year’s closing ceremony. In Ms. Nieves’ many roles—an advocate, a professor, a professional, a mom—she is always a leader.

Ms. Nieves took the evening to talk to us about her journey.  She described her family’s history, beginning with her grandmother’s bold decision to leave Puerto Rico, the only place she knew, with eight children and venture out into the unknown in search of opportunities for her children. She recalled living in a packed house in Brooklyn with uncles, aunts, cousins, grandmas, all living together. Her family supplied a strong support system, instilling values and offering sound advice—words of wisdom that give her strength and purpose even today. As Ms. Nieves spoke, many fellows nodded their heads in agreement as her story reminded many of us of our own. Continue reading “Three Reflections on an Inspirational Talk”

A New Yorker Responds: Bloomberg’s Plan for Mandatory Composting

Just last month I had documented the wonderful work of our faculty and student fellows with their community partner at the Lower East Side Ecology Center. That a city of New York’s size intends on establishing a serious, progressive city-wide program to handling waste is something to celebrate. The New York Times article cites benefits beyond the environmental impact: the city will save about a third of the money it spends disposing residential trash (over $300 million last year) by diverting the organic material to composting plants. Furthermore, the city would pursue plans to build a plant to convert the waste matter into a renewable energy source used to generate electricity for the New York region.

San Francisco compost bin. Photo license: Creative Commons.
San Francisco compost bin. Photo license: Creative Commons.

By Amanda Krupman, Communications Coordinator, Colin Powell School

I want to say that I am typical New Yorker—a typical non-native, not-yet-forty, not-ever-making-a six-figure-salary New Yorker.

I live in one of the outer boroughs, don’t own a car, and rent an apartment in a crumbling four-story walk-up. A kind, older Korean woman living across the street is paid to handle our trash and recycling and occasionally (bi-yearly?) sweep the hallways and stairs. She does this despite the fact that, she told me last week, the building’s owner hasn’t paid her since December. The owner is a typical New York City landlord, but I have lived in the city long enough to grade on a curve:  he is an absent, but not abusive, figure. I give him a C-minus.

We are all typical New Yorkers: so it only took about three-and-a-half seconds into reading about Bloomberg’s push for a comprehensive composting program for my thoughts to transition from those apropos to Responsible Earth Citizen to those of Paranoid Urban Survivalist. Continue reading “A New Yorker Responds: Bloomberg’s Plan for Mandatory Composting”

Building Schools, Bonds in Ghana

Schoolchildren in Ghana.
Schoolchildren in Ghana.

By Nkemakonam Ejoh, New York Life Graduate Scholar, 2012-2013

This time last year, I was in the midst of preparing for a trip that would end up shifting my academic trajectory. We—myself and ten other students—were accompanying Dr. Jean Krasno, director of the masters-level International Relations program, as she presented the Kofi Annan Papers to key Ghanaian institutions.

We prepared by studying and researching Ghanaian governance. After we arrived, we traveled all around Ghana, talking to ministers and politicians, chiefs and villagers.

Africa is not celebrated enough for its architectural, cultural, and political history. As a native Nigerian, it was wonderful watching others who had never been to Africa enjoy its riches and assets. This was my first time in Ghana, so all of us bonded over this introductory experience in the region. We began to realize that we all wanted an opportunity to come back, as well as give back. We got that chance while on a walk exploring Kobina Ansah, a village located about 15 miles north of the city of Cape Coast, in Ghana’s Central region. The head teacher of Kobina Ansah and Akoanso Junior Public School (Akoanso is a neighboring village) asked us for assistance.

Continue reading “Building Schools, Bonds in Ghana”