This month, we are highlighting 17-year-old Julia Balkaran, who has been involved with ICA for the past three years as both a volunteer and a student in our tutoring and SAT prep programs.
Julia initially learned about ICA from a family friend. She attributes ICA with helping her connecting to her heritage, stating: "I have gained a better view on my cultural background and encouragement to keep pushing for my goals in life. I feel more connected with my community." Julia also credits our programs with helping with her academics. She said, "I am a better student because [ICA] showed me different ways to open my mind to learning. I read more, I actually study, and I retain information and can understand things at a difficult level."
Julia said she feels hopeful for what's to come because of what she has learned at ICA. "ICA has helped me set up goals for the future because they showed me I am not limited to all these other opportunities. I am able to believe in myself more and outline how I want to accomplish everything in a certain time frame." We wish Julia the very best as she starts her first year at John Jay College of Criminal Justice!
If you are interested in supporting students like Julia through our ICA programs, consider coming to our Gala 2016!
With summer 2016 underway, the Indo Caribbean Special Collection at the Lefferts Branch of Queens Library has over 200 titles in all genres to complement your day at the beach or in the backyard. I personally recommend all of the books in the collection, but I will attempt to narrow that list with these recommendations:
1. Cereus Blooms at Night by Shani Mootoo
First on the list is Cereus Blooms at Midnight by Shani Mootoo. Mootoo is a brilliant, deeply talented writer who draws from her life and experiences to write, with dignity, about those who are not fully accepted by society. Without revealing too much of the plot, Mala Ramchandin supposedly takes revenge on her father for his abuse of her and her sister. Her story is told via her nurse at the home where she now resides, after being declared unfit to stand trial. The characters in the story, who in many ways live on the fringe of society, will draw you in and keep you connected to the narrative.
The collection also hosts Ms. Mootoo's other novels, He Drown She in Sea and Valmiki's Daughter, which are highly recommended.
2. No Pain Like This Body by Sonny Ladoo
No Pain Like This Body by Harold Sonny Ladoo is another tragic novel featuring Indian immigrants in Trinidad. It is raw, real, and captures the essence of early Indian existence in Trinidad. Much like Cereus, the theme of alcoholism, illness, and death are repeated in this novel.
Ladoo, a young writer who was hailed for this classic masterpiece, was tragically and mysteriously found dead while in Trinidad doing research for his follow-up novel.