Tag Archives: John Jay College

Flushing woman uses experience in advice column for undocumented youth


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy Angy Rivera

Angy Rivera, a formerly undocumented immigrant, knew which words she wanted to let out when she was invited to take the stage at Flushing Town Hall last month.

In her original poem, “Community Not Condominiums,” the 23-year-old Flushing resident describes in detail the communities of Jackson Heights, Flushing and Corona through following a food vendor named “Doña María.”

Doña María is up before the sun rises
Moon shining on her face she gets ready for the morning commute
It’s her job to feed others
Moon shining on her face ella empieza a cocinar arepas, tamales, café y chocolate
Arepas made with corn and cheese
They start to melt as soon as they touch your mouth.

“At first I thought, ‘Oh wait, what if someone doesn’t understand that,” Rivera said about writing the poem in both Spanish and English. “But that’s how it is here in Queens.”

The college junior, who is studying culture and deviance with a minor in human services at John Jay College, said she felt pride when writing the poem for being part of “such a beautiful community” and remembering all the great details of each neighborhood. Yet, she said she also felt sadness when thinking about the idea of growing up and facing changes.

How will Doña María sell her tamales, arepas, café y chocolate
When the streets becomes businesses she cannot pronounce
Will her café con leche compete with Starbucks?
These signs of a cleaner and safer Queens erase the resiliency already here
We weren’t dirty to begin with
Will her house stand untouched during gentrification?

“That’s what I wanted to make sure came across, as much as it’s a celebration of Queens, on the flipside it’s about things we can lose,” she said.

This wasn’t the first time Rivera’s words reached a much larger audience. In 2009 she joined the nonprofit New York State Youth Leadership Council, the first volunteer undocumented youth and membership led organization started in 2007, as an intern.

The Colombian-native, who was undocumented for 19 years and has recently obtained a visa, went on to create a national undocumented youth advice column in 2010 called “Ask Angy.”

“It was the first time I met with other immigrant young people that wanted to change things that they saw unjust,” said Rivera, who immigrated with her family to the United States just one week shy of her fourth birthday. “Through them I grew as a person.”

Now as a core member of the organization, she helps out in the media/outreach and arts/self-expression programs. Through her weekly column, she said she gets people writing to her from all around the nation about different subjects undocumented youths face, such as driving without a license and deferred action.

Although she said it is tricky at times because she doesn’t always have answers, especially when it comes to legal topics, she said the column has helped her learn different laws depending on states.

“Being involved helped me become more open about a lot of things and helped me learn a lot of new stuff,” she said. “It’s been very healing to meet other people in the same situation as you. It’s always been nice to have a group to understand.”

Continuing her involvement in activism, Rivera has also become part of Queens Neighborhoods United, a coalition created to build power and develop leadership in Corona, Elmhurst and Jackson Heights. The group recently has gone around cleaning the streets down Roosevelt Avenue.

Rivera now plans to recite “Community Not Condominiums” at a new quarterly series called “Queens Documented,” which launches on July 20 at Terraza 7 located at 40-19 Gleane St. in Elmhurst and features stories and music from people who migrated to Queens.

To read Rivera’s full poem, click here.

 

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NYPD issues social media rules for officers


| editorial@queenscourier.com

Screenshot via Facebook

Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly is patrolling the streets of the World Wide Web.

According to the New York Daily News, the commissioner released a list of what the city’s 35,000 officers can and cannot put up on their personal social media sites.

A three-page NYPD memo, obtained by The News, states “Members of the service should be aware that activities on personal social media sites may be used against them to undermine their credibility as members of the department.”

The order also explicitly bans the creation of any online site by precincts or units, as well warning officers “not to disclose or allude to their status as members of the department.”

Police officers will also be prohibited from posting photos of themselves in uniform, unless at an official ceremony, the News reported.

The memo states that any officers caught violating the policy will face disciplinary action, including termination.

Those working in the NYPD have mixed reactions to the memo.

Edward Mullins, head of the Sergeants Benevolent Association, supports the order telling The News that, “[The NYPD] have to be held to a higher standard.”

Robert Gonzelez, a police training expert at John Jay College, told The News he disagreed with the memo, calling it an example of “unauthorized censorship,” and saying that, “members of the NYPD are proud public officials and should be authorized to express that right on social media sites without retribution.”

The NYPD is no stranger to controversy when it comes to social media. Seventeen cops were disciplined last year after they were caught posting offensive comments on a Facebook page entitled “No More West Indian Day Detail.” More than 150 comments were posted calling the participants of the annual parade “savages” and “animals.”

The memo comes off the heels of two FDNY employees, including Fire Commissioner Salvatore Cassano’s son, were caught posting racist tweets. The FDNY is in the process of reviewing its social media guidelines following the controversy.

 

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Crisis at home leads to new wave of Greek immigrants


| editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Sophia Rosenbaum

BY SOPHIA ROSENBAUM

Dimitris Velitsianos couldn’t find work in his Greek homeland, so he left to seek a better life in Queens.

“I don’t think things are going to get better in Greece soon,” said Velitsianos, 20, a full-time student at John Jay College and a part-time waiter at Agnanti. “I don’t see any future in Greece.”

Four decades ago, a political coup brought thousands of Greeks to Astoria. Now, a failing economy that’s more than $400 billion in debt is fueling a recent wave of immigration.

Numbers are hard to come by, but the signs of a Greek surge in Astoria are everywhere: Enrollment numbers are up at the local Greek-American elementary school. Greek restaurants are flooded with job applications. A local nonprofit immigration center has seen a 25 to 50 percent increase in recently arrived Greeks.

“People tend to gravitate where they feel comfortable,” said Antonio Meloni, the executive director of immigration advocacy services at the Immigration Outreach Center on Steinway Street.

Astoria’s Greek population peaked in the 1970s – with about 250,000 Greeks arriving between 1965 and 1980. But the area has since turned into a mosaic of cultures, said Nicholas Alexiou, a professor at Queens College who studies the Greek conflict and Greek-American life.

For many Greeks, smells of pungent olives, sharp feta and savory lamb at authentic restaurants in Astoria are reminders of their homeland.

Lifelong Astoria resident Fay Lanbrianidis, 29, recently opened a café across the street from Agnanti, her parent’s restaurant, which has seen an increase in job seekers from Greece.

“Within the past three months, people just walk into the restaurant asking for a job,” she said. “We could say a good three to four per day that are coming in to ask for jobs.”

Betsy Sideris, assistant principal of St. Demetrios Elementary in Astoria, said the spike in Greek students has gone from three to 15 students this school year.

Sideris said in the past, the Greek government funded teachers from Greece for three-year teaching stints, but discontinued that program this year.

“The loss of the Greek government’s assistance added $250,000 to our budget to pay teachers’ salaries,” Sideris said.

While Panourgia acknowledged Greeks gravitate to Astoria because of the tight-knit community, she added that this same sense of community is what is keeping many others in Greece.

“Things are desperate in Greece,” she said. “But there is a real commitment to the country.”

The people feeling the biggest squeeze by the current crisis are the old and young, as programs get slashed and new opportunities dwindle, said Anthanasios Aronis, the president of the culture committee at the Federation of Hellenic Societies.

Like Sideris, Aronis gets calls from young professionals desperate to leave Greece and come to America. But, Aronis said, the reality is that these educated workers wind up getting jobs as waiters and cashiers.

“These people that are hurting right now are college graduates and it’s very difficult for them to come here and be a waiter,” he said.

While many Greeks are headed towards America, Lanbrianidis and Panourgia still dream of one day living in Greece.

“It’s actually one of my big dreams because the quality of life is ridiculous,” Lanbrianidis said. “You won’t get that quality of life here, unless you’re super rich.”

 

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Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

TODAY’S FORECAST

Wednesday: Overcast with a chance of rain. High of 66. Winds from the NE at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 50%. Wednesday night: Overcast. Low of 55. Winds from the ENE at 5 to 10 mph shifting to the North after midnight. Chance of rain 20%.

EVENT OF THE DAY: She-Devil Comedy Festival

The Laughing Devil’s first annual She-Devil Comedy Festival, running October 24 through 28, is a 100-woman-strong showcase, featuring some of the funniest up-and-coming queens of stand-up. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Suspect accused of killing cop, driver in custody at hospital with self-inflicted gunshot wounds

Police captured the suspected killer of two people, including a Nassau County police office, after a witness heard gunshots coming from a car in Queens. Read more Queens Courier

Suspect charged with hurling anti-gay slur, using taser on man in Queens

A man has been charged with a hate crime in connection to an attack in Ridgewood, Queens, in which he allegedly shocked another man with a Taser while calling him an anti-gay slur. Read more: CBS New York

Man says he was paid to spy on Muslim groups

Outraged members of the Muslim Student Association at John Jay College say Shamiur Rahman told them he was a paid informant of the police after pretending to be a part of their group. Read more: NY1

Union slaps Queens Library with lawsuit for Board of Trustees meeting minutes

Members of the union representing Queens Library workers are suing the library officials for refusing to give them copies of minutes from Board of Trustees meetings. Read more: New York Daily News

Dozens speak out in City Council members’ hearing on stop-and-frisk policy

Residents on both sides of the issue voiced their concerns to New York City lawmakers Tuesday night about the practice of stopping and frisking hundreds of thousands of people a year. Read more: CBS News

Billionaire gives $100 million to Central Park

A billionaire hedge fund manager pledged $100 million Tuesday to the private organization that maintains Central Park in partnership with New York City. Read more: ABC New York/AP

Serious birth complications rising in the U.S

Severe complications from childbirth are rare in the U.S., but they are becoming more common, a new government study finds. Read more: Reuters