Wednesday, January 20, 2010

January 20, 2010

Greetings Students:

Happy New Year! I hope 2010 brings a level of academic and personal competence you expect. I also hope this year has many residual pleasant surprises in store for you, the kind of surprises one finds when he or she works hard.

I am an easy person to talk to, and I am relatively flexible as long as standards are not compromised. Writing is a process which takes a certain level of practice; if students do not put in the time, desired results, like a passing grade, is impossible to achieve.

This semester we are looking at women who have accomplished much in the face of tremendous obstacles. There is only one assigned reader (I just added another book, read on).

I will pass out essays and poetry from time to time to augment this absence of texts you have to purchase. Each student will have the opportunity to read a book, an autobiography or biography about a woman they admire—preferably, the woman is alive and even living in Northern California. Students will write an essay about this person and make an oral presentation. This book can coincide with the social entrepreneur assignment, which looks at a person in the San Francisco Bay Area Community who as a business person is changing society in a positive way. This person can be an artist: performance or visual, an educator or a politician.

We will be reading and writing and thinking, and writing about what we are thinking, this semester. Get plenty of sleep; I expect you to be awake at 8 AM, 9 AM and 10 AM. I also don’t expect students who have the afternoon class to fall asleep. Lunch makes some folks sleepy and hunger in the morning does the same, so if you need coffee, bring it with you to class. Eat breakfast at home.

If you have taken my class before, we will be using the book: Stewart Pidd Hates English. For students who have successfully completed the book, they will write other essays and then use the SPHE model to critique their essays per my corrections. Such students will develop their own templates for the errors made, if any, of the essays written.

I usually have a theme, but outside of women, this semester will be about you. Each of us will set goals and develop plans to achieve these objectives. College is bigger than a passing grade; higher education is an opportunity I hope each of you is not too busy to take advantage of. Success in life is about developing relationships. So much of what we achieve is tied to who we know and the links we establish between the known and the unknown or what is possible. Another name for what is possible is opportunity.

I went to Dakar, West Africa, over the winter recess. I stayed with people I didn’t know; I knew someone who knew the person who knew the family and that person. In one instance, I met the person on-line. Of the three people, the only person I’d met before was Pape whom I’d met a year earlier at a conference. It was intuitive like this my entire visit. Without linguistic ability—no French and no Wolof, I was somewhat dependent on the kindness of a lot of strangers and it worked out. It was hard sometimes, and I got lost a lot when alone, but it worked and I made friends for life.

College is like that too. If this is your second semester and you don’t know any students, have any phone numbers or have any study buddies, then this is the semester to establish at least two relationships with peers. No one can get to the top alone, well maybe some people can, but it will be a cold and lonely walk on the moon.

We will look at personal responsibility and communication. We will also look at inspiration and how one stays motivated and inspired when it seems that you’re the only one who notices or cares. This is where the fan club or personal cheering section comes in handy.

I teach four classes: two English 1A –Monday-Thursday, 8-8:50 (meets in D206 4 Units 23043) and 9-9:50 AM (meets in D205 4 Units, 23044); English 201 A/B 10-11:50 MW (meets in D229 4 Units 230660; (201B 23074), and English 201 A/B MW 1-2:50 (meets in A213 4 Units 23067; 201B 23075). We will meet in a classroom with technology once a week, beginning in a couple of weeks.

I use technology a lot. For those students who are not technologically savvy; keep an open mind and you will leave the course more capable than when you entered. I’d also suggest enrolling in a basic keyboarding and/or computer class to get more practice. COA has computer labs which are free and available to students who enroll in a free course. Visit the open lab, in the L-bldg. to register for the course or see your counselor. Students cannot use the academic labs until enrolled, and it takes 24 hours for the enrollment to take effect, so don’t wait until the last moment like when a paper is due and you can’t use the lab to print it to enroll. The academic labs are on the second floor of the Learning Resource Center (LRC). The library is on the first floor.

What else?

I live in Oakland and have two daughters and a granddaughter whose birthday is Friday, January 22. She will be 7. I am going to her school for cupcakes. I am the eldest of four children and was born in New Orleans. Yes, my family was affected by Katrina. I lost family and all my family in parts of Mississippi and New Orleans lost homes. Most are back in their rebuilt homes in Mississippi and Louisiana.

I love to write and write professionally. While I don’t expect you to love it as much as I do, I hope you will come to find writing easier to accomplish and feel less intimidated by the end of the course. The plan is for each student to gain skills which will make him or her feel more adept at addressing the writing tasks students meet within and without the academy in their daily lives. Writing is communication.

Reading and writing and thinking are not limited to college. In western culture the text is the basis for all knowledge. If it isn’t in a book, information is assumed to lack credibility. The text is like a receipt for services. It is evidence that what you say exists. This is not true of all cultures. In some cultures, one’s verbal agreement is binding; not here. If one wants evidence or proof, it needs to be written down somewhere and at times, notarized (smile). When I was in Dakar last Friday, two men came flying out of a building, rushing to the mosque to meet with the imam to marry their children. There is often no license, just the agreement between the two heads of the family (fathers or male guardians), that their children can wed. The civic ceremony or paperwork happens later once the religious ceremony occurs. Oral contracts carry the same weight or perhaps more than the written word in this culture. I was raised this way also; what one said reflected one’s character—one’s word was one’s bond and I was taught that one should give her life before her word failed. Now I wasn’t going to kill myself, but just the idea made me stop and think before I spoke. I understood the importance of words, that one didn't throw them around carelessly. When I got older, I learned that this didn’t mean one was perfect and that retraction wasn't possible when one made an error. I learned that it was okay to correct statements uttered later when more information warranted a changed position.

My kids loved this—a mother who admitted she wasn’t perfect (smile).

That said, this is a portfolio based course, buy a travel drive and keep all of your work. Paper matters here. Do not throw anything away, especially graded work—keep all your drafts. Well before I start making this letter into a syllabus, which I will give you at the next meeting, let’s see, what else can I tell you?

I will not take it personally if you decide after this first class to take another one. We have many great teachers at the College of Alameda and in the Peralta College District, like Laney through the Tube, so don’t feel stuck. However, if you are stuck—this is the best time for you, as I said earlier, talk to me when you don’t understand a concept, if you are having difficulties in the class, or problems at home are spilling over into your academic life. I am not a therapist, counselors are trained in this field, but I can direct you to appropriate assistance if the problem is beyond my expertise. Dropping the class is always an option if you can’t give it 100 percent. I don't give incompletes.

If you are a returning student, let this be the last time you take this course. Complete it.

I know life happens, but life is going to continue happening. It keeps moving along whether you move or not, so set your goals, tell your family what they are, and ask for their support. Tell your family when you have a paper due, when you need to study, how to assist you in your short and long term academic goals, to keep the children off the computer, out of your hair and to respect your work.

It took me over ten years, I think 13 to get my BA because I got married, became pregnant and dropped out in my third year, then after having two children returned to college—from UC Berkeley to Merritt College and Laney and Contra Costa and Las Positas, then Holy Names College. I took my kids to college with me after I got off work, and then on alternative weekends I went to school as well. It only took me two years to complete the BA once I got back into a four year college, but I could have had a Ph.D. if I’d stayed focused and stayed single. But I like my children, they are good company and my granddaughter is a nice kid as well and I have friends who don’t have kids and they are lonely, so I am happy for the choices I made—since I can’t reverse them.

My choices are reflected in the population who attend community college. This is one of the reasons why I wanted to teach at this level--the other has to do with my commitment to adult and family literacy, but I am getting tired. I am tired of adults who want a free ride, who don’t like to work or apply the necessary effort to master the skills necessary to be a proficient writer. I am tired of students who tell me how they got As in high school or in their last college writing course and the teachers they had who lied to them and gave them grades which reflected a competency the writer lacked. I am also tired of students who think they can write and don’t read, who want to participate without doing homework who are not serious and waste valuable time, mine and yours and their own.

I am honest. I do not believe in social promotion and though I do not grade on curves, sometimes students work hard but lack the skills necessary to pass the class the first go round.

This is not a reason to give up. If you know you are not well-prepared or have areas or gaps in your skills, get a tutor, another free service you can ascertain with that course offered through the LRC. Don’t wait until half the semester is over, get help now. I am not a tutor or an editor. If grammar is an issue, take a grammar course or get extra help. Stewart Pidd Hates English, one of our books will help you identify errors in a character’s writing assignments and then you will use this skill to address your own errors, however for some students, SPHE is not a refresher, it is the first time they have addressed these concepts and the short chapters might not be enough practice. This is not cause for shame, the shame is not being honest with oneself and failing when one could have succeeded if he or she had asked for assistance. We move along at a certain pace and often students mistakenly think SPHE is easy and let the work slip and then get behind and find catching up almost impossible.

I wish I didn’t have to use SPHE. Some students hate SPHE, but so many students do not know how to write an essay which doesn’t contain: confused words, subject verb agreement or pronoun agreement issues, MLA or works cited problems, oh and the big thing, plagiarizing; a lot of students plagiarize because they don’t know the difference between a free and literal paraphrase. SPHE addresses all of this in nonsense essays written by a nincompoop, Stewart Pidd, who hates English. You get to grade him and then justify his grade ‘cause he just might contest it.

For the English 1A class we are going to use Half the Sky Ale House collection of poetry 2009. The books will be in the college book store. You can pick up Half the Sky at any good book store, like the one on Park Street or in Shoreline Mall. You can borrow Half the Sky from a public library, if money is an issue. I plan to get a couple of copies of SPHE toput in the library and Writing Center. The first edition is there already. I think there are 2-3 in reference. Just ask for them.

The third book is your choice, start looking now for a book about a woman you admire. For English 201, the books are in the college bookstore. Oral Lee Brown has adopted entire classes and put children through college. Isabel Allende is a wonderful writer and philanthropist. Favianna Rodriguez is a fabulous artist who is one of the founders of East Side Arts Alliance. Angela Davis has done tremendous work to abolish the prison industrial complex. Diana Block is a wonderful activist for women's rights, board member of California Coalition for Women Prisoners, especially women inside and has a new book out, Arm the Spirit, about her activism work and subsequent imprisonment (Weather Underground), Halifu Osumare, scholar has written a book about hip hop as a global movement. She teaches at UC Davis and started Citidance in Oakland. Then there is Alice Walker, and Genny Lim and Avotcja, not to mention the filmmakers, educators, retired revolutionaries--just kidding, I don't think revolutionaries retire, like Kiilu Nyasha former Black Panther Party member and journalist, and Gail Shaw, MD, also a friend to the Party (Honkies for Huey).

For my English 201 folks, you will also have to read another book about or by woman you admire. The book can be fiction or nonfiction. It needs to be good literature though. If you need a suggestion let me know. I just remembered that I wanted to use a graphic novel, but maybe I’ll do this in the fall. So as it stands, the second book is your choice. Today is the first anniversary of President Obama’s term in office. I remember last January 20—the year seemed to have passed very quickly.

I hope none of you has family in Haiti, if so, I want to offer my condolences and hope for more efficient and speedy aid. People are suffering unnecessarily. Students who have taken my course before need to purchase, Diana Hacker’s Rules for Writers. Everyone needs a dictionary. Carry your dictionary and Hacker or SPHE to class daily. You also need Half the Sky. We will start the book immediately.

When the anniversary of the war, March 18-19 rolls around we will remember it with poetry which captures its bitter taste. I will give you handouts. We will read Lysistratra in the English 1A class, another handout (website). I encourage students to bring laptops to class. Hopefully we can go to a play or a film, a poetry reading, a lecture or an art show together. If you do any of these things and write about it, you can get extra credit.

For English 1A, SPHE is a refresher. I hope to breeze through it in six weeks once we start. We will also look at themes of love: agape, philia and eros as addressed by Martin Luther King Jr., in one of his speeches and then students will write an argument favoring one of the types of love over the others. Another notable occurrence this semester is the anniversary of the genocide in Rwanda.

For those students who have completed SPHE, I will have you work in groups, writing essays on other related topics, which students will then critique and analyze similar to the way Stewart Pidd’s essays were analyzed. I write for a newspaper (San Francisco Bay View) and have an Internet radio show, "Wanda's Picks," that broadcasts twice a week: Wednesday mornings, 6-7:30 AM and Fridays, 8-10 AM. I am here M-Th, not on Fridays. A good way to reach me is to call me. Call me after you have spoken to your classmate whose number you will get when we do our introductions next week. I don’t mind students calling me, but choose your moments wisely. I do not let others waste my time; it’s too valuable, more precious than gold. Sometimes people get their feelings hurt when I tell them so.

Textbook recap:

Stewart Pidd Hates English by Gary Politt and Craig Baker (both classes, those who haven’t already completed it)

Diana Hacker’s Rules for Writers (English 1A and English 201B if you have completed SPHE)

Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide
by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn (both classes)

Alehouse Number 3 2009 “Poetry on Tap” (English 1A)

A college dictionary
A notebook
A folder for completed work
A stapler
Pencils and blue and black ink pens
A travel drive to save work on the computer

The class blog for English 201 is

The class blog got English 1A is

My email address is: (I have a account but I don’t check it regularly. My office number is (510) 748-2131. Don’t leave messages on the phone. Call me on my cell. I will give you the number in class.


Respond to my letter on the blog. Tell me about yourself and your plans for this semester and how this fits into your overall plans for college and life. Don’t forget to tell me which section (time) your class meets and for English 201, whether you are in 201 A or 201 B, and what section for English 1A.

Monday, bring in a news article about something of interest to you (minimally 250 words). Read the article first. We are going to practice paraphrasing: literal paraphrasing and summarizing. For English 1A bring in a magazine length article—several pages. Read the article in advance.

Hello Professor Sabir.

My name is Melvin Herring,I'am in your English 201A class from the hours of 10am-11:50am. As I was reading your letter to us about your life, and important things to know about you. I feel that you told us some much about yourself I feel that I should be doing the same. So let me start off with the basics, I will tell you about my past education,what I look forward to in future,and what iam currently doing.
This will be my first time back in school since I graduated from Skyline High School in oakland<ca in the year of 2008. I was a pretty basic student I really wasn’t focused on any goals, all I knew was that I just wanted to do my four years and get out as fast as I could. Some of my best class’s was English and government. Sports helped me pass the time I spent in school. The sport teams I was on was the wrestling team,track, and cross country. I was a little of a class clown but I’am over that now and I’am ready to learn.
This year I will be looking forward to focusing on my writing skills, and building a strong use of writing to use later on when I go on to a career. I also expect to gain a better vocabulary so when I go to a public place people can understand me with no problem and I don’t have to repeat myself. I plan to get an A inside this class. I will do that by always turning my work in on time or early.
As of rite now I’am working I work at kragen autoparts. I’am a sales person, for this jobi had to learn a great deal about automotives and how they work. I plan to take that knowledge somewhere far in life if not for a carrer then just for a hobbie.
I expect to learn a lot in this class, and with the right tools I plan to get a good mark in this class to move on to a higher form of learning. So I plan to take your teachings far in life and better my career.its only day one but I feel good about the skill level of this class.
Monday 25/2010
Hello professor Sabir

Happy New Year!! I ‘am in English class 201B, we meet at 1pm to 2:50. Hi my name is Shakira, I’m 20 years old. I was born in Nigeria. I came to used United State when I was 13 years old with my sisters and brothers. I live with both of my parent. I’m very active and I love math and very good at it. I very understand person. I love to watch movies but not all the time. I only watch movies only when I have free time. This is my Second years in community college and my 4th semester. My plan for this semester is to pass all my classes with A or B so I can move to the next level. My over all plans is to transfer to four in University and continue with my education.
Hello Ms.Sabir,
My name is Sandy Saeteun, 19 years of age and I am in your English 201B class and we meet on MW at 10:00 am. The goals that I have for this semester is to pass all my classes with at least a B or higher and to put in a great effort in all my work that I do in class. Some of the things I hope to do are learn more about grammar and punctuations in this English class. Also, I hope that this class will help me learn how to speak standard English better and that I will stop speaking improper English and slang. I really hope that this semester will go well for me since last semester was pretty hard for me especially with things that were going on from outside of school and as a first time college student. College is really different from high school I must say. Now I think that I’m a little more comfortable with thing, so hopefully things will go smoothly for me.

What I am currently doing now is that I am going to school full-time and working part-time. I am taking political science and philosophy as a couple of my electives for now. My first impression of philosophy seems pretty cool, I’m taking that class at Laney and the teacher seems pretty cool. He doesn’t seem like your average teacher that teaches from a book or based on what the state wants us to learn. I’m excited to go to that class tomorrow. I currently work at Hawaiian BBQ in Alameda and I get really bored working there. I so need a new job that pays better and that is a lot more interesting. But as for now that will do.

My major for school as of now is a pharmaceutical technician. But I’m really not sure yet. I was thinking I wanted to do something in the medical field but just not as a nurse or doctor because I don’t like physical contact with strangers or hospitals. My other major I was thinking for school was broadcast journalism. I thought that it would’ve been cool if I got to work as a host for a news station or on some show. But those are just ideas that I have in mind. I really do not know what I want to do yet.
Hi, my name is Kelaisha (Key-Lay-Sha) Birdlong. You can call me KeKe if you have trouble pronouncing my name. I'm 19 years old, i will be 20 March 5th. This is my 5 semester in the peralta college district. this just happens to be my first class at Alameda. I'm the oldest of 10 kids. I have 4 sisters and 5 brothers. I attend CWC church. I'm a theater major. I plan to become an actress. I enjoy reading and writing(mostly poetry). I'm kind of a shy person when it comes to reading out loud, but i am getting better at it. I'm enrolled in your English 201A class on Monday's and Wednesday's at 1:00-2:50pm. I plan on transferring either to and HBCU or to one of the CAL State Universities. I'm thinking Cal State L.A. They have a theatrical dance major and I enjoy dancing. So it ties into each other I believe. I'm not the best writer as you can probably see in this letter. But one thing I can say is that I'm never the one to give up. At least I try not to. I also plan to get a tutor like you suggested since its free. I mostly attend classes at the Laney campus. I also do a little bit of modeling in bay area fashion shows as a hobby. I also sometimes have trouble asking question a loud in class, because I sometimes feel that my questions are stupid. So you might receive emails from me.
I plan to become a better writer this semester while taking your class. I'm not the best essay writer, I tend to go of topic at times. I'm look forward to enjoying your class this semester. You seem to be a very nice and I feel that you are the king of professor who wants to see her students do well. There aren't a lot of Professors like that. that pretty much sums this letter for the time being. See you on Wednesday for class..
I am from English 201B 23075 class; my name is Tracey. I am a auditory and visual learner. I learn and remember better with visual image. My immediate goal is to attain an associate degree, and the long term goal is an undergraduate degree. I am still exploring on my major. Last semester, I struggled with my writing assignments in English 201A. I had the ideas in my head, but encountered difficulty in translating my thoughts into words. Besides, I had forgotten the grammar fundamentals. In my last class, I learned that the writing process start with the reading process: reading, thinking, evaluating and making my own judgment from the information presented. This semester, I hope to be able to write with confidence; to expel the fear that my writing is never good enough. I believe when I have overcome this hurdle, I will be armed with confidence to tackle my assignments in other classes that require critical thinking and writing skills. I am looking forward to learn new things this semester. I know I will enjoy your class, as you use a variety of medium to teach your class, making it interesting. I love to read true-life stories of people who have fortitude to rise above life challenges. It helps me to learn, and develop my own life experiences.
Kim Hardy
English 201A 10-11:50pm

Hello Professor Sabir,

Happy New Year! I enjoyed reading your letter and learning much about you and I'm certain that I will enjoy your class as well. I scanned through Alehouse Poetry on Tap and noticed that you're a publish author. You're interview with Al Young was quite interesting, especially the part about him creating the alter ego OO Gaubaugh (Ooga Booga) an author who became his second voice.

This semester, from your class I hope to learn to utilize proper English in my writing as well as expand my vocabulary. Stewart Pidd Hates English seems like a great book to use for learning. The exercises done in class on Monday were easy to understand and fun to do. Reading is food for the brain and I intend on eating well this semester.

I appreciate your efficiency as a professor, thank you for providing me with all the tools necessary to be a successful student in your class. You are one of those rare teachers that actually care. Your story is inspiring and a testament to the unlimited strength a woman possesses.

My life's trajectory is a simple one. Shortly after high school I married and dedicated my life to my husbands career as a professional ball player (big mistake). After 8 long years of marriage, I found myself divorced, uneducated and broke(financially). I quickly discovered that I had to do something and do it quick! Get an education. This is my first year second semester in college I attend Laney and College Of Alameda. I'm excited for my new experiences as a 29 year old college freshman. My educational goals are quite tenacious, I hope to become a physician one day. As of now, I'm not sure what field of medicine I will concentrate on but I'm determined to figure that out once I get accepted into Medical School.

I am a new resident of Oakland, I've been here a total pf six months. So far, my experiences here in "The Town" have been mostly pleasant with the exception of my car getting broken into. Through school and my social life I have met many new and awesome friends. In my spare time I enjoy hanging out with my friends going to movies, plays, concerts, sporting events and the occasional night club. I have a boyfriend who takes up a lot of my free time as well. Recently, I've taken on a new passion for hiking. Exploring nature and enjoying the scenery nature offers is therapeutic and uplifting. Strawberry Canyon in Berkeley is my favorite trail, its a gem tucked into the Berkeley Hills.

Throughout this semester I hope that we can get to know each other more, I believe there is a writer deep down inside me that is aching to get out and I'm sure your teachings will cultivate that talent within me. :o)

Kim Hardy
Sonry Chhoth
Eng. 201A, 10:00-11:50

Hello Ms. Sabir,

My name is Sonry Chhoth and I am a second year in College of Alameda. I was born in San Francisco, California in 1989, which makes me 20. I am currently enrolling in classes to see what I am interested in. I don’t have a major or minor, as of right now, so I am taking a lot of different classes. The classes I am taking right now are English, Math, Humanities, and Human Sexuality. The classes that I’m most interested in are art and science. I thought I was going to make art my major but I am not too sure about that. As of right now, I’m trying to take classes toward transferring to a 4-year institute. I have yet to decide what school I want to go to. I took 201 English before but I withdrew because I wasn’t committed to the class. I am not going to make the same mistake this time around. I am determined to pass this class. I am going to prove to myself that I can pass this class. I am kind of stuck in this class because it fits my schedule. I am going to make certain that I succeed.
Hello Professor Sabir,

I am currently a student in your 201B english class and by the way my name is Jasmine Kemper I attend your class from 10am-1150am on MW. In response to your letter I believe that you are very out spoken.
Well about me I am 21 years old and I attend College Of Alameda as a full time student. I am still undecided on my major in school but im pretty sure I will figure it out pretty soon. I have attended college before but in a way dropped out ,for the simple fact I was not ready to commit to school. I now have a different out look on that. I am ready to get a degree and just mainly be a determined successful student. My plans for this school semester are to be prompt, no slacking off and also pass all of my classes with atleast a letter grade of a (B)but an (A) will be much better and of course I know I have to work harder to recieve that, but it is my goal in every class.
In your letter you said that we will be talking about the women in the world that have accomplised many obstacles and I can not wait to start that. I also agree with you when you said "college is more then a passing grade; higher education is opportunity." which I believe is so true because many people just see it as a passing grade they dont get the knowledge of the work. I think that when you actually do recieve thee knowledge it is a better chance of opportunity because you are educated and you can even get that career and be the best that you can be.
well in closing thank you for teaching are class and helping us out to learn more also for letting us know your background and what you have accomplished and the places you have traveled see you on WED.
Hi Ms. Sabir,
My name is Adilene Velazquez, and I am taking your English 201A class Mondays and Wednesdays from 10:00 a.m. to 11:50 a.m. After reading your letter, I got a little scared because it seems like we will be writing many essays in your class. I usually have a hard time writing essays, but I am taking this class because I want to become a better writer. This is my second semester here at College of Alameda, after graduating from Alameda High School last year. Last semester, I took English 267A and English 268A which is basic reading and writing. After talking to my teachers, they recommended me to take this class instead of going to English 267B, and 268B. Although I know this will not be an easy class for me, I am ready to work hard.
I am nineteen years old and my goal is to obtain an AA degree as a medical assistant, but since that program is not offered here, after finishing my G.E. requirements, I will have to go to Chabot College in Hayward. I am not a morning person either but I will try my best to make it on time to class everyday we meet. I believe that getting an education is important, and I like to work hard to get good grades. I feel very proud of myself for staying in school, and not allowing anything or anyone distract me from my goals. I am looking forward to enhancing my English skill because I know how important it is. I am also exited to learn more about the power roles that women have.
Hey there Professor Sabir.

My name is Luis Arechiga, and I'm in your English 201B class from the hours of 1:00pm-2:50pm. I was born in oakland of 1991. I grew up and did all my schooling (K-12) in South California. I graduated high school this past summer of 2009. I grew up not as previliged as many of my classmates were. I was working two hourly jobs, babysitting, and going to school throughout all my years in high school. Since graduation, I came with the state of mind wanting to move up North and continue my education in a different enviroment. So far, this is my second semester of my first year in college. I plan on persuing a higher education; I already tasted what life was like working by the hour, it's back-breaking, painful, tiresome, and pure depression trying to make ends meat and help out my family with every single dollar that was possible. I'm ready to persue my ideal future; a successful and happy career along with a comfortable life style. My mindset right now is to transfer out to San Franciisco State University to finish my BA in business. I acknowledge that my English is not my fuerte, but I'm determined in improving my English skills, and taking it to a whole new level.

Luis Arechiga
Afternoon Professor Sabir,

Let me introduce myself as well as give you some backround. My name is Rick, and I have lived in the Alameda/Oakland area for almost two years. Originally I am from the Los Angeles area.
After spending approximately ten or twelve years in the mortgage industry (the previous six with a bank that was shut down) I moved to Alameda, and decided to reenter college and obtain a B.S. in business.
My objective for this semester is to improve my writing skills with a focus on grammar, sentence structire and puctuation. Comprehension has never been much of an issue, but I'm definately out of practice (graduated in 92'). I would imagine that this will strengthen my foundation for English 1A, as well as 1B/1C.
My ultimate goal here is to not just get a business degree; but to get it from U.C. Berkeley. I am fully aware of the acceptance rate (50%) and realize that I have alot of work ahead of me. That's okay though, I think I'm up for it. Thanks, and wish me luck.

Afternoon Professor Sabir,

Let me introduce myself as well as give you some backround. My name is Rick, and I

have lived in the Alameda/Oakland area for almost two years. Originally I am from the Los

Angeles area.
After spending approximately ten or twelve years in the mortgage industry (the

previous six with a bank that was shut down) I moved to Alameda, and decided to reenter

college and obtain a B.S. in business.
My objective for this semester is to improve my writing skills with a focus on

grammar, sentence structire and puctuation. Comprehension has never been much of an issue, but

I'm definately out of practice (graduated in 92'). I would imagine that this will strengthen

my foundation for English 1A, as well as 1B/1C.
My ultimate goal here is to not just get a business degree; but to get it from U.C.

Berkeley. I am fully aware of the acceptance rate (50%) and realize that I have alot of work

ahead of me. That's okay though, I think I'm up for it. Thanks, and wish me luck.


This is a repost as I forgot to put in which section and time.

Richard Myers
Section 201B
1pm - 2:50pm
M, W, F
Hello Professor Sabir,

My name is Rosecary Aguinaldo, and I am in your English 201 A 10am-11:50 M/W. I enjoyed reading your letter and I can actually say I feel a lot more relaxed and at ease. I learned many things about your life and as well as the outline of the class. As for me, I'm a working-student and this is my second semester here in COA, so far so good. I'm currently enrolled in CIS, Math 201, and English 201 A. My plan for this semester is to pass all of my classes with flying colors. I know that in order for me to achieve this goal is to focus and persevere. My overall plan is to obtain an AA degree and then later on transfer to a four year university and in the hopes of becoming a nurse in the near future. I'm looking forward to your class and hoping that we'll get to know each other better.
A happy new year to you too, Ms. Sabir!

After finish reading your letter, I hope that this semester will be fun and I can learn many new things from this class. I also hope that I can meet new people and befriend with them. Since you already introduced yourself, it my turn to introduce myself. I name is Khan Ly. I’m from your English 201B class that starts at 1:00 – 2:50 p.m. My family moved from Vietnam to America in the year of 2002. I can speak both Vietnamese and Chinese because my family is Chinese. After I came to America, I started from middle school, which was the most difficult time to me because I can’t understand English. But with the helped from my new friends and teachers, I managed to go through those hardships and make my way to college. As for my education goal, I want to become a politician in the future. But right now I have to finish all my general education courses and then transfer to a 4 years college. Well, what come first is for me to strengthen my writing and speaking skill. And I hope that taken this class can help me fulfill my goal for this semester.
Hello Professor Sabir,

My name is Adam Smith, and I am in your 210B class on MW from 10- 1150 am. In response to your article, it seems as you are a very accomplished person despite, dealing with the obstacles you have faced. I wish to complete this class with a grade that reflects my personality, and intelligence I know I give out. I will tell you what had got me to this stage in English at Alameda College in the first place. This is currently my 2nd year of college, specifically at COA. I was born in Oakland, Ca, moved to Alameda, a few years back, to escape the mess of the West. This is my 3rd time taking a Eng 201AB class, consistently taking and withdrawing out of Mr. Rubin’s class prior to this. I know English compression very well, or so I believe, though it really hasn’t gotten me far. I would like to obtain more then good grades this semester, and advance to the next 4 year level of college. Challenges that I do think I could face this semester is starting off strong, but not finishing the same way I started. I want to test myself in how focused I can really be with out having distractions of other peers, and other such things that can differ my goals against my will. I’m excited to what faces me toward the end of the semester if I really commit to what I set myself up for positively affecting my education. I’m ready to start a new semester, with a new way of thinking, and with the first day down of class, then the way were teaching the lessons was a better way for me to think about something I already known that’ll, re-wire my thinking in a way that helps me out with the basics.
Hello Professor Sabir,

My name is David Vergara Jr, I am in your English 201A class on Mondays and Wednesdaysfrom 1 to 2:50 pm. First off i would like to say that it is an honor reading your letter and for being in your class. I hope this semester goes well for the both of us and that you can can teach me the necessary tools for english.
Basically I am here because I messed up at my previous CSU. I was more of the party now, study later type and so I am reaping the consequences for that. I am usually a hardworking student and when I need to focus i close out all distractions and pay attention. I am taking this class to hopefully be a stepping stone of me going back to my CSU that i once was. I am really focused and determined to get there and hopefully this class will get me closer to my destination.
English 201A

Professor Sabir,

Hello, my name is Kelly Bohler I’m nineteen years old. I was born in New Jersey but I was raised in the Bay Area most of my life. I have one sibling and my mother and father are divorced, my father lives in South Carolina and my mother lives here with me. I have a big Filipino family that I cherish and love; I’m currently living with my boyfriend of six years. I have no children yet, I’m focusing on school, work and me. I ‘am a believer I truly believe that everything happens for a reason whether good or bad. I’m a positive thinker, caring is what I do best and my outgoing and funny personality shines bright like the beaming sun on a hot day. This is my second semester at College of Alameda and I will admit that last semester I didn’t do that well. This semester I plan on changing my bad habits and making my academics my main priority. My goals right now are you finish my AA degree and transfer to a four year college and major in child development or business. San Francisco State is my college of choice but I’m also looking at colleges on the east coast. In the future I plan on opening a preschool or be an elementary teacher in the bay area. I want to be a teacher because I love being around children and I know I have the patience and skills to be a wonderful teacher. I really liked your syllabus it was not like other syllabus’s teachers normally give you. Your syllabus had personality and really showed me who you are and what you’re about. I’m very excited to research women around the bay area that has accomplished so much. I related to the paragraph in the syllabus where you talk about your trip to Dakar and how your experience relates to college life I’m going through something similar to your story and it really touched me. I know I picked the right English class that fits me best and I can’t wait to get started.
Anonymous said....

hello proffesor sabir,

My name is Latisha Davis, i'm in your 201A English class from the hours 10am-11:50am. Reading your message i can see that your very straight forward and thatyhis won't be a easy class. You treat us like the adults we are an your not takig any excuses you want us to face up to our mistakes an not blame anyone else but ourselves thats what i need cause i am the tpe that would forget to do something an try to make up a excuse. My last class was all fun no play, it was a easy A an no challenge.
some things about myself, i graduated in 209 from washigton high in fremont california. I got my medical assistant certificate also in high school. my major is psychology just to have a AA in it i don't really know yet if i want to prusue it but i do know that i want to be in the medical feild it will always be in high deand and the pay is really good. Wrighting has always been apart of my life its my favorite past time, i would write stories, poems , or how my day just went. I'm best at free writing, or writing what i want because i'm free an i can express myself without limits. when it comes to work writing like for school i need more structure an focus the basis is good but the structure or like spelling needs help.
My plans for this semester is passing an getting all the tools nessary to move forward with my education. Have great understanding of writing structure. i can promise you that i will try my best

thanks see u soon
Hello, Ms. Sabir
My name is Denetta Jones, and the reason I’m taking this English 201A 10:00am -11:50am this semester is because It’s a requirement to graduate, and also for I can better my reading and writing skills more. I’m a full-time student also and have been attending school non-stop since I started College of Alameda in 2007 also graduated from Oakland High School in 2007 and since I been at college of always I have change my major two time. My plans for this semester is to pass all my classes and gain a lot of knowledge form all my classes. My plan and goals for this school year is to start off on a good track and finish on a good track also with out pushing my stuff off the edge of not finishing my classes. I have a bad habit of not completing most of my classes and not trying hard enough. Which I know I can do better then I have been doing and this semesters in this class and other I’m going to try my best as much as possible. My plan for school is to keep focus on school and family and finish all my classes that I need to graduate, from College of Alameda. Therefore my plan after that is to attend this program at social service for about three to six month to become a social worker and after that I might be place in a job. Another thing about me is that I’m shy and don’t talk much I’m a quite person. I love to read books, but it also depends on what books like romance, crime and non-fiction ECT. However most of my books I have been reading are mostly by black author man and women. From reading your letter I’m am very interest in reading the book I have chosen my book and I’m looking forward on writing about it.

Name: Denetta Jones
Date: 1/26/10
English 201

My name is Adrianna I have a 1yr old daughter I'am 2oyears old. This is my 1st semester at COA but my 2nd yr of college, I plan on Majoring in Psychology and becoming a Child Therapist in the near future.I enjoy poetry and spending quality time with my Family

I appreciate life so much better since I've had my daughter she made me appreciate life much more , I'm more motivated in life since I've birthed her she showed me what true love feels like , knowing that I've given birth to her has been such a joy :-)

With everything you told me in your letter I also noticed how's kind hearted you seem and focused on your self and the real values of life , I respect the fact that you took the time to tell me about yourself and your past and present future. No matter what you do in life and how you achieve it I believe staying focused and determined to achieve them is the best thing no matter how long it takes you no matter how many obstacles you face asking as you keep striving for them shows me courage and ambition

I hope to get to learn more about you and for you to learn more about me through out this semester

Adrianna Sterling
English 201a
Sareth Chhoth
Eng 201A

Hello professor Sabir, my name Sareth Chhoth. Right now I am 18 years old but very soon I will be turning 19 on January 28. To me, being 18 or 19 is someone who is young that attends college compared to all the older people that I know but that does not bother me at all. I was born and raised in Tenderloin, a neighborhood in San Francisco but later on moved to Oakland and now Alameda. One other thing that you should know about me is that I am Cambodian. Most people, so far in Alameda get mistaken and think that I am Filipino but I am not. I never experienced that in Oakland or San Francisco, probably because Alameda does not see a lot of Cambodians.
Right now I am attending your English 201A class on Mondays and Wednesdays from 10am to 12pm. I took this class because it fits into my schedule and I did not want to have a lot of classes in 1 day so taking it at this time is perfect for me. I also wanted to take this class because one of my friends is taking the same class.
By taking this class, it helps me in getting some credits for English. I always want to get some things done and not delay it. I made a mistake last semester because I wanted to take English 201 but it was full so I ended up not taking any a full English class. It was full because I signed up too late, I am not going to make that mistake again.
For now I am trying to get as many credits as I possibly can. In the future I hope to transfer to S.F State or some other college. Right now I do not know what I want to major in but I think by the time I transfer I will know what I want to major in. That is what I am planning so far. I want to take it step by step.
Anonymous said
Tasha louza
10-11:50Happy New Years! For my New Years I spent in Las Vegas with my family, I had so much fun, Even through, I couldn’t do much I got to see a lot of new things. Now school starting I have to get back focus. The break was really long, about a month, so I spent my time just hanging out and going shopping. But I’m really happy starting back school because I had too much time on my hand doing nothing. So I was getting myself into trouble. This semester would be the first semester that I would have a regular English class. Last semester I had to take writing class with Dr Leonard, I learn a lot about my writing, I learn that I have problem with my punctuation and not reading my paper before I turn it in to the teacher. But I’m still working outside my class to improve more. I heard from my consular and old student, that you are a really good teacher, so I’m ready to start this semester right with you. I also like your introduction the first day of school.. This class fits in my overall plan in college and life, because you have to take this class for college, and life you need to know English to succeed in the working world. My overall plan for life is to graduate and succeed in any job or career I choose. I feel everybody tell you in order to succeed in the working world you have to get a college degree. Maybe by the end of this semester this goal might change
Fisrt of all hello and happy new year Professor Sabir. It's a new year and with a new years comes new adventures,surprises,mysteries and different experience's.Iam in your english class 201A (monday-thurs 9:00am-9:50am) My name is Guadalupe but you can call me Lupe for short. Iam 23 years old the oldest out of two children. I have a younger brother who is 17 years old and attending Berkeley High School.The high school I graduated from in the year 2004,I live with my mother and fater. After graduating I enrolled in a private college called Silicon Valley College recieved a certificate in the field of massage theraphy. I started my small bussiness it was fun while it lasted, the money was good untill one day I thought to myself "is this what I want to do for the rest of my life? ". Shortly after that I went back to school fineshed a program of medical billing because I have always wanted to be in the medical field. Now Iam attending college of alameda I was taking the dental program but due to personal problems I had to drop the program. (sadly) now what Iam doing is taking all the prirequists so that by the time june is here I can enroll in contra costa into the dental program,I enjoy writing letters, emails, but I know that my puntuation and grammer is not not perfect. Iam hoping that by taking this class Iam able to think, learn how to write a essay the correct way and improve my writing skills.Iam also very outgoing and down to earth person, easy to get along with. On love spending my time with my family and friends. Traveling, camping, outdoors sports, going dancing and shopping of course. I enjoyed reading your letter there was a part where you talked about how the time keeps passing by and moving wheather or not your moving with it. That right there told me I have to better myself beacuse Iam not getting any youger and time is passing by. Thank you and look foward to learning alot in your class.

Peace and Love
Guadalupe Ramirez
My name is Kalani and I’m in your English 201 B class 1-2:50. The reason I’m taking 201 B English now is because last semester I wasn’t doing as well I would have liked to, so I decided to take it down a level and get my writing skills up. My goal this semester is to do well in your English class and go back to English 1A. Not only do I want to do well in your class, but I always want to well in all my other so that I will be able to transfer to a 4 year.
My life started on April 13 1991 in Sacramento, California. Although I was born in Sacramento I wasn’t raised there. In fact as a little kid I moved all over the bay area, but I was mainly raised in Oakland. I have a twin brother and a little sister.
Now that I’m 18 years old have gained more maturity and got a job at the San Francisco Airport. Although I really don’t need the money, I find it a lot better that I don’t have to ask people for money no more. Over the winter break I have worked enough hours and saved enough money, and now I can honestly say I own my own car. I don’t know about other people, but that makes me feel good because not a lot of people my age experienced buying their own car just yet.
I hope to have a good time in your class and hope to learn a lot.
English 201A

Hello Professor Sabir,
I am in your english 201a class from the time 1-2:50. my name is anthony payopay. I am full filipino and I am 19 years old. This is my second year attending this peralta college. I plan on transferring when I finish up with community college. I live with my dad in alameda. I attended Encinal high school and graduated.I have been working on and off. I also cut hair and was working in a barbershop till I quit. I am also a full time student in college and I plan to stay focused as much as possible through all the distractions. My plan for this class is to hopefully pass with an A or B. I plan to pass all classes with good grades. My first day of class I thought your class was unique and different and it is different from high school English. Your class seems to fit me well and I am looking forward to staying in it this semester.
Hello Ms. Sabir,

My name is De’Mel Deon Bullock. Im in hope the New Year has been happy for you this far as well. Im glad you had a good time in Dakar, West Africa. I can’t even imagine spending time in another country, living with strangers and have the barrier of different languages preventing me from communicating with others. Hearing your overall reflection of the trip and its relevance to ones college career was enlightening, I don’t have or nor have I ever had peers that I studied with or called to get notes from through out my whole college experience. Thinking back I probably would have done better if I had reached to and held out a helping hand. Being this is my second stroll around the block it seems like a certain area of the letter was written, Dear De’Mel, with that, my family, graduating and growing in my education is enough motivation to complete this class, with hope of a passing grade that is. I have completed all of my classes needed to receive my AA, except your class. I’ve recently discovered that most of my classes were only applicable to obtaining a certificate and AA, but are not transferable. Due to my current situation I will have to cut back and become a part time student until I have reached my point of transferring. Im currently working as an automotive technician, and on campus as a peer advisor.
I’ve came to appreciation you writing a letter to us oppose to the run of the mill, traditional syllabus. Initial interaction, a little history and what to expect and your expectations of us all as student is a great way to break the ice, I think. Thank you for asking how everything was going. Last semester brought a little more rain than the forecast reported, but as you said “life happens”, with that being so very true death happens as well. The fall semester started off with my sister leaving this world, and God willing this semester my wife will be giving birth to our baby girl.
Tonny Mai
ENG 201A
1:00-2:50 MW

Hi there Professor Sabir, my name is Tonny and I find it really cool how you started out the class with an autobiography about yourself. It gives us a little knoweledge about you and what we are going up against this semester.
My plan this semester is to thrive through this english 201a with an A, so I dont have to bother taking 201b.
Well now a little bit about me. Born in Providence R.I. and raised in Oakland, I’ve been through a lot of family and financial problems in my life. With an older brother who is a U.S. marines, and two younger siblings in high school, I’ve always been the responsible and dependable one. I went to Sobrante Park Elementary School, and after that I went to Roosevelt Middle School. In high school I attended Oakland High School. My freshmen year I ran cross country in which we won our league and made it to the California State Championship. I also ran track, the events of the 400m, 800m, and 1600m races. But my best moments in high school is playing on Oakland High Baseball team. I played second base, which is my favorite position, outfield, and some pitching. Playing sports is my love and joy, nothing makes me happier. My goal in life is to first be happy. You can’t live life if you are not happy. Secondly, I want to be successful in my career. I’m planning to major in Electrical Engineering. My plan is to take two years here in Alameda, then hopefully with help of my counselors, then I want to transfer to UC Berkeley and finish my major there. It will be a very tough and challenging journey for me, but I’m here and up for the challenge ahead.
Chris Jackson
English 201A 10-11:50pm

Hello Professor Sabir,

My name is Christopher Jackson, I am in your English 201A class from the hours 10am to 11:50am.I was born in Sacramento California,July 7,1990.Im 19 years old and I moved to Oakland about 4 months ago.I have a mother named Tammy and a younger brother who is 17 named Zairyus,he makes music and is really good at it.I am 6feet tall and I love the game of basketball more than anything. I tried out for Saint Marys college in Moraga and the coach told me to try out for a junior college and becasuse there was some small things that I need to work on as a player in order to play for a division 1 school.So I am here to hopefully become the new pointguard for Alameda College and graduate with my associates degree and a basketball scholarship to a 4year university here in the united states.

My goals for this semester is to get all A's,I have lived a life filled with its share of negative things and dissapointments,for some reason I have a gift for overcoming them and moving forward.I would like to futher my education because I have been working for the past two years and im tired of having a job ,I want to be able to provide for my future family as a man with a career.I curently have a girlfriend named Tiana who has been there for alot of my struggles in life so far,so id really like to become succesful and show the potential that I have,that everyone else sees in me,and maybey one day make her my wife if all goes according to plan.
I am at a point in my life where i see no failure,it is no longer in my vocabulary I have a hunger for perfection and i will do anything to get it ,I work 3 jobs and im going to school and i currently live on my own so i dont want any special treatment but at the same time i am doing everthing by myself haha.I love to make people laugh and to speak in front of them,its feels good being back in the classroom, college is where i belong and it feels like a second home, so expect great things from me this year.

In order to run I have to crawl so im hoping to learn alot this year in your class to help me further my education.I love basketball food,money,clothes,cars,video games,and learning new things.I Think college is going to open up alot of doors for me that I never knew were there.It feels good to find out whats in store ,and I look forward to being in your class this year.When its all said and done i would like to look back and say you were one of my favorite teachers and I was one of your favorite students.
I know I'm late posting a comment on this post, but I still wanted to tell you a bit about myself! My name is Monique West, most people call me Monique Dee, Mo, or simply Monique. This is my second semester at College of Alameda. I just recently graduated from Berkeley High School last year (2009) so this is a new experience for me!
I'm a very outgoing person although I've proven to be shy when i first meet new people. I love dancing (I was in a praise dance ministry for 9+ years), i love music, and singing even though I'm no Whitney Houston:)... Not even close actually.
My plan for this semester is to work hard and stay focused on school with less distractions than last semester. My wish is to get even better grades than fall semester, which will be a challenge because i did very well last semester! But I'm sure I can handle the challenge. I love those :)

Looking forward to a great semster!
Peace and Love <3

Monique West
Mo-Wed 1-2:50pm
Professor Sabir
English 201B
Hello Professor Sabir
My name is Bernardita Rappaport, and I am in your English 201B class on Mondays and Wednesdays from 10:00 to 11:50 am.
After reading your letter, I feel very inspired by you because you shared so many things about your personal life. It is very interesting that you combined school, work, and motherhood at the same time and you ended up being a very successful English teacher. Also, it was very awesome to know that you went to Africa and you met friends for life.
This is my fourth semester in COA, and my major is counseling. I love to understand and give advice to people who need help because I been though a lot of challenging situations in my life. I finished all my ESL courses and this semester is my first English class, so I feel a little bit nervous. I am eager to learn, I want to make my grammar better, and I want to lose all my fears of computers.
About me; I was born and raised in Chile and I moved to the USA in 2001. I have been working as a nanny for a wonderful family for seven years and I consider them my own family. I also have lots of cousins, aunts, a husband, friends, a dog, and a wonderful mother in law.
I got married in 2006 and I am very happy because I have the life that I always wanted.
Right now, I am very focused on school, and in the future I want to transfer to a university.
Bernardita Rappaport
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