When I told my parents I would be jumping on a motorcycle for the first time in my life, their faces went blank and they gave me the response I’ve heard so often since I asked them years ago for a skateboard: “You’re joking, right?”
Although I was raised among mostly boys and had numerous falls and tumbles, my parents always made sure I knew “extreme hobbies” would be out of the question because safety was their number one priority.
However, when I told them that this particular adventure would be to go over the safe ways to handle a motorcycle, they eased off and gave me their blessings.
With New York State having over 680,000 licensed motorcyclists in 2013, according to the DMV, and 5,153 Queens students coming out of New York’s Motorcycle Safety School, it is always important to be aware of the safety and responsibility that comes with owning a bike.
FOR MORE PHOTOS OF MY MOTORCYCLE ADVENTURE, CLICK HERE
Our instructor for the day was martial artist, professional film and TV stuntman and DMV-certified instructor Adam Wood, who said he knew riding a motorcycle was exactly what he wanted to do. Coming from Colorado, he said, he did not want to be at the mercy of New York City’s public transportation.
The session began with an introduction to the different types of motorcycles — cruisers, sport, dual-purpose and touring bikes. With all the choices, the goal is to sit on as many different bikes as possible, find out what you like, how good it looks and feels, and think about where you’ll be riding.
However, before going out and picking your favorite ride, pay attention.
State law requires motorcycle riders to wear two things before hitting the road: Department of Transportation (DOT) certified helmet and eyewear. How do you know your gear is DOT-certified? Just check the sticker.
According to MSF, proper gear also includes a long-sleeved shirt or jacket, full-fingered gloves, long pants and over-the-ankle boots (rubber soles, no laces). Wood also showed us motorcycle-specific over-pants with armor built into the shins, hip and knees.
A safety fashion tip — leather is the best material to look for in motorcycle clothing because, according to Wood, at 25 mph, leather lasts up to six seconds when making impact with the floor, while jeans only last 0.75 seconds.
The importance of gear is to allow the rider to have good communication with the motorcycle. Comfort, visibility and protection are the key things to remember when picking proper gear.
“You’re going to want to buy the gear that allows us to interact with our motorcycle the best,” Wood said. “You should do research to arm yourself with information so you don’t put yourself in bad situations.”
Following the classroom lesson of the day, it was time to take the session outside and add some “seat time” under our belts.
Before mounting any bike, remember these are very heavy pieces of machinery, ranging from 200 to 900 pounds. Once you release that kickstand, it’s only you and your strength stopping that bike from hitting the floor.
In addition to the handlebars, a motorcycle has five other primary controls. Three of those controls are hand-operated and mounted on the handlebar. There is the throttle, which allows you to rev up the engine, the front brake and the clutch lever.
While on our Suzuki bikes, we learned the clutch lever is what allows you to change gears. When you come to a stop and you don’t want the bike to shut off, you have to squeeze the clutch and then ease back out.
Using what Wood called the “Friction Zone,” you maintain a smooth ride with your bike and don’t stall or accelerate uncontrollably.
The remaining controls are foot-operated and control the rear brake and shifting of the gears. You don’t need much pressure to switch to different gears; a soft tap up switches from first gear to N and then up to 5.
Unlike in a car, there is no meter telling you what gear you are in, so in order to check if your bike is on first, you have to give the shift lever three taps down and if you stop feeling clicks, that means you are on the lowest gear.
Although I wasn’t able to fully ride the motorcycle, because I do not have a permit, I was able to get a taste of what it takes to control such a machine — gentle taps, concentration and having the proper gear and training.
After looking at photos and watching my videos, I think my parents are more relaxed with the idea of me getting on a Harley Davidson one of these days… Now wait until I get that tattoo.
Koczÿ was born in 1939 in Recklinghausen, Germany and three years later was taken to a concentration camp together with her family. At a young age, Koczÿ witnessed death, loss and the struggle to survive.
Years later, still having the hardships she shared with many others strong in her mind and making it as a survivor of the Holocaust, Koczÿ began keeping records of the memories through different methods of artwork. The artist began with creating tapestries then moved to drawings, paintings and sculptures. Koczÿ died in 2007. Since September, QCC has had close to 140 pieces of Koczÿ’s art, created over nearly 30 years, on display in an exhibit titled “Art As A Witness” at the campus’ historic Oakland Building.
The series of close to 100 drawings, done with ink on paper, involved in the exhibit are called “I Weave You A Shroud.” Koczÿ used each of the drawings to remember those she saw suffer and die while in the concentration camps.
“They are burials I offer to those I saw die in the camps where I was deported…” Koczÿ wrote in an initial description of her series. “In the Jewish burials the dead are washed; a woman washes the body of a dead woman, a man washes the body of a dead man. The body is then wrapped in a shroud. Sewing a shroud is an act of respect and a rite.”
The exhibit also features wood sculptures and paintings titled “Standing Man,” where Koczÿ honors an unknown prisoner who ultimately gave his life to help and protect her in the camp.
Some of the pieces are owned by the QCC Art Gallery of the City University of New York, other paintings are loaned by the Stichting Collectie de Stadshof in The Netherlands, drawings from the Musée Création Franche in France and sculptures are from private collectors.
Wednesday: Sunny to partly cloudy. High 31. Winds WSW at 10 to 20 mph. Wednesday night: Partly cloudy. Low 23. Winds W at 10 to 15 mph.
EVENT OF THE DAY: New York Voices — Vocal Jazz Quartet — 25th Anniversary Celebration
Hear the incredible vocal jazz of this world renowned quartet — the group visited Queensborough Community College in 2012 and electrified audiences with their complex harmonies, intricate rhythms, and orchestra-like use of their voices. NY Voices was moved by their work with our vocal students here, and the music department is proud to be able to offer their musical gifts to the campus again. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own
City Council passes 911 response time bill
The New York City Council has passed a bill requiring the fire department to change how it tracks response times to emergencies. Read more: NBC New York
NYC could soon mandate flu shots for small children
Some New York City parents may soon be required by law to have their children vaccinated for the flu. Read more: CBS New York
Cuomo backs panel’s $2B tax-cut proposal
The state will consider tax cuts that include relief for renters here and a property-tax freeze outside New York City, Gov. Cuomo said Tuesday. Read more: New York Post
Lawmakers unveil bipartisan budget deal
Shedding gridlock, key members of Congress reached a modest budget agreement Tuesday to restore about $63 billion in automatic spending cuts from programs ranging from parks to the Pentagon. Read more: NBC New York
Curtis Granderson: True New Yorkers are Mets fans
Curtis Granderson’s first hit for his new team was a playful shot at his old employer. Read more: AP
Late last month the Department of Education’s Panel on Educational Policy voted on all co-location proposals. Martin Van Buren High, I.S. 59, August Martin High School, P.S. 40, J.H.S. 226, M.S. 72 and the Corona Arts and Sciences are the schools facing co-location in Queens.
The Department of Education called off its plans to co-locate a new elementary school in the building of P.S. 1 after parents, teachers and elected official spoke out against the proposal. At the Martin Van Buren High School co-location hearing, State Senator Tony Avella, Councilmember Mark Weprin and I along with the parents, teachers, civic leaders, students and community members urged the Department of Education to hold off on their plans to co-locate a new school in the building. However, the Department of Education has ignored our request to meet with them and is instead pushing through with their proposal.
My biggest question is “what’s the rush?”
One of the first issues that needs to be addressed with the proposed co-location at Martin Van Buren High School is the lack of transparency in the process and the reasons the Department of Education is rushing to put in the second school. It seems the Bloomberg administration is rushing these co-locations before the next administration takes office.
The problem lies in that there is a clear disconnect between the Department of Education and the community. Parents, teachers, community leaders and students have only been consulted after the Department of Education issued its proposals. Parents and community members deserve to be informed and have greater involvement in the school’s decision-making process. I call for a more comprehensive and community-based plan in which all members of the community that are impacted by the change are able to be involved in the school Turnaround process. All of the schools dealing with the issue of co-location need to be thoroughly examined to determine if co-locating the school is the best plan for the school to thrive.
The proposed co-location would eliminate 500 seats at Martin Van Buren High School and create a new six-year school that would give students the option to earn two-year degrees from Queensborough Community College. There is no reason why Martin Van Buren High School can’t have this program integrated into the school’s curriculum.
If not well planned, having an additional school in the building can become a costly project that disrupts student learning and limits access to resources and school facilities. Often when schools undergo co-location, one of the schools receives preferential treatment. The issues that can arise from co-location are overcrowding, unsafe hallways, inadequate resources and tensions over sharing space and equipment with the other school in the building. The schools often have to compete for the use of shared areas such as cafeterias, gyms, auditoriums, playgrounds and hallways. The co-located school will take away essential resources from the traditional school, depriving students of school equipment and other resources.
We have seen far too many schools in experience co-location, resulting in underfunded programs, overcrowding classes, and ultimately a spiral of academic decline. Instead of co-locating struggling schools, let’s first discuss the option with the community and invest our time and resources into turning the school around. Martin Van Buren High School is one of the few community comprehensive high schools that provide real choices, with an exciting curriculum for students and the Queensborough Community College partnership program can be incorporated into the school. The students of our city deserve to be provided the best education possible and parents should have the choice for their child to attend one of the last comprehensive high schools in Queens.
Assemblymember David Weprin was elected in a Special Election in 2010. Weprin represents the same district represented by his father, the late Assembly Speaker Saul Weprin, for 23 years and his brother Mark Weprin, for over 15 years.
A survivor of the Japanese sex camps during World War II recently shared her story with students in the hopes that a younger generation of Americans will learn through her experience.
Ok Sun Lee, 85, described how she was brutally kidnapped from Korea as a teenager, tortured and witnessed other women killed by Japanese soldiers in 1942 at the event hosted by Queensborough Community College’s Kupferberg Holocaust Resource Center on July 11.
“Instead of being able to attend school, I was dragged by the Japanese military to a comfort station,” Lee said through a translator. “People call us ‘comfort women,’ but I hate that term. They abducted us… There is nothing to be comfortable, being a comfort woman.”
During World War II, Japanese soldiers kidnapped women from mostly Asian countries and brought them to prostitution camps. Estimated hundreds of thousands of women were enslaved and about two thirds of them died during the ordeal.
The Japanese government apologized to survivors twenty years ago. However, in 2007 Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe denied the women were forced into prostitution. Survivors and groups such as Korean American Civic Empowerment (KASE), which helped put the event together, want the Japanese government to admit the existence of “comfort women” to make amends for its military’s actions.
Nearly 60 comfort women are still alive in Korea and about 10 of them live with the House of Sharing, a group that looks after the 80- and 90 year-olds.
“A lot of the survivors are passing away and [...] the government of Japan is waiting for us to die out,” Lee said.
Japanese government officials have said that they will stand by the apologies made in 1993, according to reports.
The issue gained intensity last year when City Councilmember Peter Koo considered memorializing the dilemma the comfort women faced with a street renaming in Flushing. Koo and supporters were flooding with angry letters from Japan.
“Whether we want to be or not, that fact of the matter is we are all survivors and it is our obligation to carry this story forward,” said Assemblymember Charles Lavine.
The students who met with Lee were part of an internship with the Holocaust Center this summer. As part of the internship, they interviewed Lee and another comfort woman through Skype along with Holocaust survivors Ethel Katz and Hanne Liebnann. They were also in attendance.
The group of students are tasked with holding the memories of the women dear and sharing their stories.
“It’s exciting and kind of sad,” said Wei Wu, a freshman of Korean descent. “She is in her eighties and we still don’t have justice, and she is still suffering from her experience. But I’m excited to see her, because she is history and a history we are not really aware of.”
Ok Sun Lee was kidnapped by Japanese soldiers at age 15.
She was raped on average 30 times a day.
She spoke so history would not repeat itself.
Korean “comfort women” recounted their tales of survival to a group of students at Queensborough Community College’s Kupferberg Holocaust Center. The survivors represent a small handful of the 200,000 young women forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese Army in World War II, according to accounts.
“She was just a little girl,” said student Alexander Crombez. “When you’re face to face, hearing about completely horrible events, things we can’t imagine as being possible, it feels much more immediate. These are people who are grandparents.”
Crombez, 19, of Flushing, said he and eight others studied the history of World War II in East Asia before receiving a firsthand account of the brutalities from the comfort women through videoconference. Most of them are now in their 90s, living in South Korea, students said.
“That’s when it moved from an academic type setting to a more personal, emotional trip,” he said. “It’s hard not to imagine the terror she went through when she was a young child.”
Student Wei Wu Li, 22, said he interviewed Ilchool Kang. Soldiers in the comfort station, he said, cracked the back of her head open because she drank water without permission.
“That was a heartbreaking story,” Li said.
The group of scholars said it was their goal to ensure the tales are remembered.
“It is because these students have studied the atrocities committed against the women of Korea during World War II that they have emerged as spokespersons for social justice,” said Dr. Arthur Flug, executive director of the Kupferberg Holocaust Resource Center. “By doing so, they have guaranteed these women that they will not be forgotten.”
Councilmember Peter Koo said he is pushing for a Flushing street to be named in honor of the comfort women. State Senator Tony Avella hopes to soon announce a resolution memorializing them.
Deirdre Corrigan, a 20-year-old Queensborough Community College student pursuing her associate’s degree in nursing, thinks it’s great her school is raising money to help young students get an education.
“I’m very excited about this program,” she said. “I actually started Queensborough on a scholarship and it really helps so many students who need scholarships.”
Queensborough Community College announced that it is seeking donations for its “Edge for Success” campaign, whose goal is to raise $25 million by 2015.
The college is just about $4 million away, according to Vice President of Institutional Advancement Rosemary Sullivan Zins.
“Today we are here to launch our fundraising campaign to support what we do each and every day for our students and our community,” said Queensborough President Dr. Diane B. Call.
Sullivan Zins said scholarships given out from this fund will be based on merit, but not just academically. Instead, those eligible will have demonstrated a good work ethic in school, she said. Additional grants can be given to students for books and other needs so they can stay in school.
In order to raise funds, she said, the college has done a great deal of networking and researching. The foundation has also had meetings with team members to train them in asking for donations.
The campaign is chaired by alumnus Charlene Pounis, ‘76, who noted that funding will not only go to student scholarships, but for faculty research and expansion.
“The faculty is continuing to grow and develop and then provide even better services for the students,” she said.
The Harriet and Kenneth Kupferberg Holocaust Resource Center and Archives was also awarded a $500,000 Challenge Grant by The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH).
The college’s goal, it was announced, was to raise $100,000 for the center. Mark Kupferberg, chair of the Queensborough Community College Foundation, announced that NEH has pledged to match the funds by 50 percent — $500,000 — every year for five years.
“This is just one illustration of how we are viewed as a national leader of what we do,” he said.
Kupferberg said the fundraising campaign, as a whole, would help Queensborough continue to grow.
“It ultimately becomes that little dab of grease that makes the wheels roll,” he said.