Interviews, Facing the Page
Learning English for the Sake of Her Children
Lucy 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!