Archive for June, 2009

Summer 2009 Reading Clubs

July – August

Practice your English conversation, reading and writing skills, public speaking and learn about American culture and experience in an informal small group setting. Small groups meet once per week for 2 hours. These popular groups are great for learners who want to improve their conversational English and enjoy reading and discussing an interesting book. Vocabulary, American idioms, pronuntiation, fluency and friendship are a few of the benefits of joining a Write to Read Reading Club. Some Reading Clubs also practice writing. These groups are facilitated by volunteer tutors. They are free of charge.


Reading Club participants must register before attending any groups at the branch libraries and community locations. Call Rachel to sign-up at (510) 745-1480.


Dublin Library

200 Civic Plaza


Patrice’s Reading Club

Thurs. 6-7:45 PM

June 25 – August 6


LiBi’s Reading Club

Wednesdays, 10AM – 12 PM.

July 1 – August 19


Fremont Main Library & Administration Blg.

2400/2450 Stevenson Blvd 


Mariannes’ Reading Club

Mondays, 9 -11 AM

July 27 – August 31


Vrushali’s Writing Club

Tuesdays, 10 AM – 12 PM

July 7 – August 19


Susan’s Reading Club (Idioms)

Wed. 10 AM – 12 PM

Border’s Books

July 1 – August 19


Kathleen’s Reading Club

Thurs. 10 – 12 PM

July 16 – August 27


Claudia’s Reading Group (Basic)

Wednesday, 6 – 8 PM

Cantury Village Apts.

June 24 – July 19


Newark Library

6300 Civic Terrace Ave.


Linda’s Reading  & Writing Club

Saturdays, 10 AM – 12 PM

June 20 – August 8


Union City Library

34007 Alvarado Niles


Pam’s Reading Club

Sat. 11 AM – 1 PM


June 20 – August 1


Call Today to sign-up for a Reading Club or for more information:  (510) 745-1480.

All Reading Clubs are free of charge.


Read Full Post »

On Mother’s Day

By Ronnie Zhou         5-10-09


        My mom is seventy six years old. She is living in Beijing.


       On Mother’s Day every year the sights of people buying flowers, picking out gifts and making reservations in restaurants make my emotions flood to the surface. I have never given a gift to my mother because this holiday was not celebrated in China. But as children all over the world rejoice in the bonds of mother and daughter and spread their love to the world, it brings me back to my life in Beijing and the stories my mom used to tell us.


Mother’s hometown is known as the so-called Three Provinces in Northeast China, a place that produces soy beans and broom corns. There is a majestic Changbai Mountain and a charming Songhua River, and in a village called Xiaoshizuizi near the Taizi stream, my mom was born.


In the Northeast, it is said that there are three types of treasures; ginseng, mink fur, and oola grass used to protect cold. It was a very prosperous place.


In September 18, 1931, the Japanese invaded the Northeast. They killed Chinese people. Natural disasters destroyed farmers’ houses and land, forcing them to live in the mountains. After the end of the Second Sino-Japanese War, a civil war broke out; Communist against the Kuomintang, There was fire everywhere. People could not live in peace.


My grandfather had little land. Members of the family worked hard from morning to night and had little to eat. When my uncle was one year old, my grandmother passed away. With no milk and food, Grandfather wanted to put up my uncle for adoption. However, my mom firmly opposed. She took up the responsibility and took care of her little brother like a mom. Brother had grown up, and even to this day, he is still mom’s biggest worry.


At eighteen, my mom married my dad. Not only did she have to work in the fields, but she also had to get up at 4 in the morning everyday to cook for the whole family. In the winter, when she went outside to get firewood, the cold wind ripped her face and wolves howled at a distance. She was so scared. Then her brother in law carved her a calabash gourd necklace and told her it will protect her.


Four years later, my mom had me, and, after a month my grandmother on Dad’s side gave birth to my uncle, so my uncle is younger than me. Besides working in the fields and cooking, my mom also had to take care of her mother in law, and cook some special food for her. In old China women had a sad fate. Every girl had to wrap their feet to keep them from growing because small feet were considered pretty.  It was easy to break bones in their feet because they were wrapped too early as they were three inches long.


Fortunately, my mom only just started wrapping her feet when the northeast was liberated. No more did women need to wrap up their feet, and they could walk with pride and dignity like men. Mom was grateful for the Communist party and said that they freed women’s feet.


Later on, my mom went to Shenyang, a large city in the northeast area. When I was ten months old, Mother took me to Beijing to reunite with my father. As of now it has been a total of fifty four years. These fifty four years have caused a great change. Mom has grown old and her hair turned white. She often thinks of her old home in Xiaoshizuizi, thinks of Changbai Mountain, Songhua River, thinks of their soy beans, broom corns, ginseng and oola grass. She always says that the water of the Taizi stream is sweet.


I am the oldest among my brothers and sister. I have seen, heard, and gone through with my mother many of her experiences. She never had any formal education, but took a class for beginners for three months. Nevertheless, she can write a two-paged essay for her speech, despite the fact that there are some mistakes.  Mom volunteered in the community services for forty years. She was the president there and her community was one of the best in Beijing for many years. The government pays for many of their trips as a token of their gratitude.


She loves to live in the moment. There were a few years when ping-pong became a very popular sport, and I remember my mom took out my bed board to share with other kids in our neighborhood. During the holidays, she invited some teenagers whose parents were still working in Anhui a southern province into our home to make dumplings to celebrate.


 My mother is very tolerant. She said it is okay if we suffer but don’t treat others that way. Mom is also very thrifty. She is generous to friends, relatives, and neighbors, but refuses to spend much on herself. She once said the only thing she had to show for her life was her four kids.


I don’t know how she got through the Cultural Revolution. Every factory and school stopped classes and production at the time. People divided into two groups, each claiming the other opposed the Communist party. They fought each other with pointing finger in the form of press. White terror clouded Beijing. Everybody was trying to find the enemies among them. My father was a vice president in his company and of course Mom always worried for him. On the other side of our street, there was a woman who, before liberation, was the wife of the landlord in the countryside. Red Guard forced her to stand on a ping-pong table to answer questions about what they did wrong before.  If the Red Guards were not satisfied with her answer, she would be beaten by sticks or leather belts. And there was another woman, who was the principal of the Yonganlu School. She took the bus home every day, which was right in front of my yard. There were always people hitting her with bricks and pulling her hair. Finally, she couldn’t stand the humiliation and killed herself. The Cultural Revolution was a nightmare. My mom didn’t want us seeing the scene. Sometimes she bought a piece of cloth to make a shirt for me and my sister at home to prevent us from being threatened.


I feel lucky because my mom is still alive. With her here it doesn’t matter how old I am, I will always be the child. I bought her a house and occasionally send her money. I hope that she can buy whatever she wants, and if she got sick, she’ll be able to see a doctor.  I hope she can happily live her later years.


Today is Mother’s Day. Mom, from the other side of the world, your daughter wishes you a happy Mother’s Day.

Read Full Post »