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Councilman Vacca starts New York conversation group

Bronx Times

On Thursday, February 16, Bronx residents, with origins from Mexico, Albania, Dominican Republic, Brazil and China, met at the Westchester Square Library for one reason; to learn to speak better English.

“We Are New York,” is a citywide program led by the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs to foster English conversation among non-native English speakers and immigrant New Yorkers. The initiative’s goal is to learn about city services while practicing their English skills.

Councilman Jimmy Vacca’s office is initiating a “We Are New York” conversation group which held its first meeting on February 16 and will continue meeting every Thursday at the library, located at 2521 Glebe Avenue, until Thursday, April 19.

Councilman Vacca attended the meeting, where he spoke to participants about the initiative.

“Raquel Vazquez came up with the idea to hold this program here and ran with it,” Vacca said. “This is very important, and I want to do more.”

During the session, participants were asked to sit in a large circle, and then go around the room to introduce themselves, what country they are originally from, and what types of things they like to do.

Sueli Rasile, a Bronx resident who is originally from Brazil, introduced herself and told the group she likes art and traveling.

Maria Augustini, also a Bronx resident, said she is originally from Kosovo and she enjoys reading and writing.

After everyone in the circle finished with introductions, the group was split into smaller groups of three or four, with each given a picture to look at which they then had to explain, in English, what they thought was taking place in the picture, to the entire group.

After everyone said what they thought was going on in the picture, a representative from “We Are New York” instructed the group to repeat phrases he said out loud having to do with the picture. The group then watched a video about the picture they were asked to look at and describe, informing them of what was happening in the picture, which was a parent teacher conference.

Vacca also informed participants that his office will be holding a citizen information day at St. Raymond’s Church on Saturday, March 3, where people can come and learn about how to obtain U.S. citizenship.

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