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Fiesta 2010: Freshman Year Summer Program

“How to Succeed to Be a Ninja at NYCCT,” “How to Cheat on Your Girlfriend and Not Get Caught,” “How to Succeed at NYCCT Without Fainting” and “No Face Takes Flight” are among works presented in August 2010 during a program featuring student poetry, plays, cartoon strips and creative essays.

Each summer, as other entering freshmen wile away the last of their vacation days, students in the Freshman Year Summer Program at New York City College of Technology attend intensive courses in reading, writing and math.  For the past two years, the Common Reading Project, administrated by Lauri Shemaria-Aguirre, has provided participants with shared readings typical for college-level English students. The objective is to familiarize them with necessary discussion skills they’ll be required to develop in their forthcoming English classes and to provide them with a forum to present their creative responses to other classes familiar with the text.

This year’s Common Reading Project, organized by faculty members Jennifer Sears, Robert Ostrom and Shivani Manghnani, focused on Junot Diaz’s popular story collection “Drown.” Narrated through the comic voice of Yunior, the stories detail a young boy’s experience in the Dominican Republic and the trials experienced by his family after relocating to New York City and New Jersey. Classes participating in the Common Reading Project developed analytical reading and writing skills through prepared tests and quizzes, and then used the same texts as springboards for classroom discussions and creative writing projects presented at “Fiesta 2010” (a takeoff of Diaz’s “Fiesta 1980”), held in the Atrium Amphitheater on August 9.

A primary goal of the Project was to encourage students to recognize one another’s abilities and to provide a place for students to interact with others using the same texts. Another goal was simply for students to have fun before attacking their tests at the end of the summer semester.

At the event, Jennifer Sears’ students performed a play derived from the story “Fiesta 1980,” poems and two “how-to” essays. Mark Schiebe’s class presented scenes from “Ysrael.” Will Kenton’s students presented a video of “how-to” essays. Rob Ostrom’s students presented spoken word and film, including “Poppin’ Bottles” and “No Face Takes Flight.” Charles Hirsch’s class concluded the program with expert student rapping and a Latin dance lesson starring “The Caliente Dancers.” This year’s “Fiesta 2010” concluded with an abundance of Latin food, music and dancing, and continuing rap music.  It was a fiesta students didn’t want to end.


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