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Interviews, Facing the Page

Learning English for the Sake of Her Children


 Beowulf SheehanLucy Liu and her two children. Photo: Beowulf SheehanLucy Liu, who emigrated from China to New York City nine years ago, is proud that her two young children speak perfect English.
Now she wants to learn too.

In order to keep up with her kids, Liu is learning to read and write in English for the first time thanks to the free classes at an NYPL Center for Reading and Writing at Seward Park Library in Chinatown.
“I wanted to understand my children in English and help them with their homework,” said Liu, who now aspires to improve her English further so she can look for a job when her children, ages four and six, are older.
“When I used to see books in English I felt so dizzy I couldn’t understand anything. Now the Library is teaching me to read, and I’m learning.”
Those English classes, along with many other essential programs and services, will be greatly curtailed under the city’s $40 million funding cut to the Library.
It has only been a few months, but already Liu has made progress. She can now make her way through some of the center’s beginner adult literacy books and has even written her first essay in English — about her dreams for her family.
“So far, we don’t have a big house to live in, but we can live together so we are all happy,” she wrote in her first piece. “I have a wish. I wish everybody in the world to have a happy family.”
Along with her regular weekly literacy classes, Liu has also discovered the Library’s wealth of free materials for her whole family — from books and DVDs for her kids, to Chinese newspapers and Chinese and American craft books and recipe books for herself — and now comes with her children after school most days.
“The Library is very helpful for my whole family,” she said, adding that she recently tried her hand at making a new Italian pasta dish for her family thanks to a cookbook she found at Seward Park Library.
“It was good,” she said, “and not very hard.”
Please join Lucy Liu and other NYPL users in speaking out against these crippling cuts, which would close up to 12 neighborhood libraries and reduce others to just four days per week. It takes just a few clicks to send a letter to your elected officials urging them to restore funding. Help save libraries!


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Congratulations and Thank You

Congratulations to Lucy Liu and her fortitude in learning English. She is truly a role model for her children. And thank you to the NYPL for for all you do for all of us as citizens of NYC. We will do all we can so that you can continue to provide the wonderful resources that you do.

Learning English is not an

Learning English is not an entitlement. New york city tax payers fund all these programs. If she wants to learn English for her children, she is more than welcome to pay for a class at a local community college. I am not sure why New York City immigrants feel that the city must pay for such programs because learning English is an individual's responsibility. As a child of Chinese immigrants growing up in a southern state, I can assure you that the vast amount of free programs that New York City offers to immigrants is beyond "Cadillac." Moreover, how does having Chinese newspaper in the library help her with learning English? I think the library is using tax payer's money to purchase Chinese newspapers that she would otherwise consumed on her own. Cutting the library hours to 4 days a week is not a bad idea because the libraries are usually overcrowded, unclean and extremely noisy. The library has turned into a dropoff place for parents who don't want to pay for childcare. I'm willing to bet that the people who are complaining about the library hours cuts don't pay any taxes and get EIC credits. As a tax payer in NYC, I can assure you that if what it takes to balance the budget is to cut library hours, that's fine by me.

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