12/04/2020 | AuthorNCC
Fall 2020 begins my 31st year as a full-time member of the English Department here at Nassau Community College. It's hard for me to imagine that I was only 27-years old when I started, but it's true. I can still see the surprised first-day-of-class looks on some of my students' faces when I headed to the front of the classroom. "You're our teacher?" one of them would inevitably ask, and when I said yes, the response always came back, "When you walked in, we thought you were one of us!" That doesn't happen anymore, though. Now, for most of my students, I'm old enough to be their father!
My graduate degree is in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL). When the English Department hired me--I had just finished a year of teaching in Seoul, South Korea--NCC's ESL population was growing exponentially, and they needed someone to help build the ESL program. Over the past three decades, in addition to teaching ESL and basic composition courses, I have taught Literature, Creative Writing, Jewish Studies, and Women & Gender Studies. I have also published seven books during my time at NCC, three of my own poetry and four books of translations of classical Persian (Iranian) poetry.
As you might imagine, after 30 years, I have so many fulfilling memories. For instance, I remember one ESL student who came to the U.S. from Central America only marginally literate in her native language who, after a lot of hard work, not only became a fine writer, but went on to win scholarships that helped her continue her education. I also worked in an independent study with two women to help them write a series of essays they eventually read at a College-wide colloquium, in which they broke the silence in their own lives and in their communities about the sexual violence they had survived.
Professionally, Nassau Community College has been a nurturing home for me, a place where I have been able to create for myself a three-decade long career filled with variety, challenge, growth, and the deeply fulfilling work of helping students begin to discover who they are and what they want in life. I am very grateful that NCC’s English Department saw in my twenty-seven-year-old self a young teacher worth giving the chance to have that kind of professional life.
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