Month: May 2022

Talking Italian: ‘Rich and intensive’ language courses at City

By Lucie Langevin

Language classes “rich & intense” like the taste of Italian coffee

Learning a new language opens up a whole new world to you, and this is precisely what I love! I will keep learning until I am fluent. I want to achieve a level where it feels natural to speak Italian.

My name is Lucie Langevin and I am a Marketing Executive with an award-winning Italian villa rental company, based in London.

Lucie Langevin

At City I took an Italian Lower Intermediate short evening course.

I’m passionate about languages and have always loved Italian culture: the country, the history, the art, the cinema, the food… To me, learning Italian is about understanding this culture better and gaining insight into what makes the country and its inhabitants tick.

When choosing a class, what matters most to me is what I personally get out of the course and my own learning curve. I care about my knowledge of Italian being recognised as an extra skill that I have gained from a reputable provider. Therefore, when choosing the Italian course, I looked into classes available in my area, read reviews and compared options. City did not disappoint and the course went beyond my expectations.

What I enjoyed most about the course was getting a true feel of Italian culture. Every Thursday I looked forward to my two hours of Italian and always left the class feeling motivated and enlightened.

Veronica de Felice is a great tutor: an authentic Italian with a wonderful sense of humour, always in a good mood and keen on pushing us to learn more and get the best from her teaching.

She regularly went beyond the basics and varied the content of the lessons so that each class would be rich and intense. She always included a bit of everything: culture, grammar, speaking, writing, interactive exercises, homework to practise and prepare for the class… a great balance of activities and a very encouraging attitude towards us, her students.

We were very lucky to be in a small group, which is the best environment to learn a language. This meant we got to know each other very well. The interactive style of our exercises encouraged this even further. All the other students were also very motivated, which created the perfect atmosphere for learning, sharing experiences and interacting together in Italian.

I also enjoyed that we weren’t just taking a theoretical class: we were conversing and exchanging a lot, about life, interests, jobs and got along so well together as a group with the tutor and the other students. I looked forward to my class every week!

I always try to practise what I have learnt in my daily life. At work I feel better integrated and my Italian colleagues love it that I take an interest in their language and culture. I speak Italian with them, can understand them speaking on the phone and don’t need a translator to read emails written in Italian. I also try to pick up new vocabulary by listening to Italian radio and reading the news online.

Learning a new language opens up a whole new world to you, and this is precisely what I love! I will keep learning until I am fluent. I want to achieve a level where it feels natural to speak Italian. I want to travel even more to experience the culture and speak the language in ‘real life situations’. And I want to be able to read books and watch movies in Italian… I’m excited!

Lucie studied City’s short evening course in Lower Intermediate Italian.

For more about our short language courses, visit our web page.

Three Life Lessons Learned Volunteering for a Homeless Charity

Three Life Lessons I’ve Learned Volunteering for a Homeless Charity

By Sepy Akbarian

Since 2008 the charity Rhythms of Life has served over 1.2 million free meals to London’s homeless. But what I didn’t know when I began volunteering alongside founder, Andrew Faris, is that he, too, was once a rough sleeper. I’ve learned a lot since supporting his work…

Volunteers at Rhythms of Life

I began volunteering for Rhythms of Life in 2021. I wanted to engage with my community and for what I did in my life to align more with my values, namely helping those in need. The charity receives regular food donations from renowned brands such as Marks and Spencer, and Coco di Mama. It aims to eliminate homelessness, as well as to enrich lives through educational courses. In essence, it was set up to provide the tools its founder, Andrew, lacked when he was on the streets: daily nutritious meals, lessons in life skills, help getting work, and finding somewhere to live.

 

As a volunteer, I help unload the batches of food we receive, including bread, yoghurt, sandwiches and chocolate bars. In groups of around seven, several of us cook up a hot meal, while others organise food into crates. We then drive together in a van to Trafalgar Square where almost a hundred homeless people are waiting in a queue. This ritual happens four days a week. The charity is open 365 days a year.

 

Here are the three life lessons I’ve learned through my volunteering.

  1. Our past doesn’t dictate our future

 

The charity’s founder, Andrew Faris, ran a lucrative estate management firm before a hit to the financial climate led to bankruptcy. For the next six years he was confined to the streets. His story is not rare. I soon discovered that a sizeable proportion of the local homeless community previously held sought-after jobs, including in aircraft engineering and teaching, but were now homeless due to no-fault evictions – a leading cause of homelessness.

 

Before this, in my ignorance, I believed most people on the streets came from broken families and poor backgrounds. Escaping abusive relationships and leaving prison and the army are also reasons people find themselves without a home.

 

Andrew, in the midst of his homelessness, landed a role selling The Big Issue. He managed to save money to buy a camera and became a photographer, which became his career. He pledged to not turn his back on the community that he once belonged to and has since dedicated his life to the charity.

 

  1. The less you have, the more you give

In the week leading up to Christmas Day 2021, a middle-aged lady who regularly uses Rhythm’s services entered our office and presented us with a red envelope. “Don’t open it yet,” she said mysteriously, then disappeared. 

When we opened the card, we were awed to find a £50 note inside. Overcome with joy, I was reminded of the beauty in humanity’s generosity and the words of Saint Mother Theresa: “The less we have, the more we give. Seems absurd, but it’s the logic of love.”

 

  1. Kind conversations give comfort

My journey at Rhythms of Life has opened my eyes to the extent to which the homeless community feel alienated. After queuing, at times for over an hour, they’re given – in conveyor-belt fashion – a hot sandwich and a drink, then dismissed. Many have expressed to me that they feel seen but not heard. Homeless people want to have intelligent conversations. They want to be humanised. We can do this by asking open questions and by talking like we’d talk to our friends and family.

 

The experiences of the homeless serve as a reminder that even if we have no monetary change to offer, we can create change by stopping for a brief conversation with our fellow humans. “If somebody spoke to me when I was homeless, I was then more open to suggestions about getting off the streets,” Andrew has said.

 

I would recommend to anybody thinking about volunteering to jump in! There’s a lot of flexibility around when you give your time. And not only do you get to help change lives, but you may also meet people who’ll become your friends for life.

 

Sepy Akbarian took City’s Introduction to Copywriting course taught by Maggie Richards. Sepy is an optometrist with a passion for words; she is currently writing a poetry book.

 For more information on our non-fiction writing short courses visit our subject page.

City Writes Summer 2022 Competition Opens

by Rebekah Lattin-Rawstrone

City Writes is the showcase event for the fabulous writing coming from City’s Creative Writing Short Courses and this term’s event will feature two published alumni from the same Novel Studio cohort: Attiya Khan and Simon Culleton. Both writers had their debuts published in 2021 with exciting independent publishers and have fascinating publishing journeys and heart-felt writing to share. The City Writes termly competition is now open for you to join these published authors at the Zoom event on the 7th July.

Attiya’s debut novel Ten Steps To Us

Attiya Khan’s debut, Ten Steps to Us, is a Young Adult Romance that readers have described as ‘captivating’, ‘the perfect teen romance that covers religion, romance and diversity’. The book outlines the ten steps devout, hijab wearing, Aisha, tries to take towards a romance with non-Muslim, Darren. Will she be able to keep her faith, her identity and get the boy of her dreams? Published by Hashtag Blak, you’ll have to read it to see.

 

 

Author Attiya Khan

Attiya and her three sisters grew up in a loving Indian Muslim family. Channelling her inner Jo March, she started writing diaries and short stories as a teenager and continued as a medical student at Barts, junior doctor, and now as a busy East London GP. An alumnus of the prestigious City University Novel Studio, Attiya started writing her first novel in reaction to what she saw around her: ‘I’m fascinated by how cultures and lives intermix and intertwine, and I get inspiration from the people I meet and the stories they tell’. Attiya lives with her husband, and their three children.

 

 

Simon Culleton’s debut, Shadows of Fathers, published by Stairwell Books, follows one father’s fight to stay close to his children in a journey that crosses geographical, cultural and emotional borders. The author, Heidi James, described it as ‘a delight – told with warmth and humour, and just a hint of steel’.

Simon was born and bred in Essex England, where he lives with his two children. His love for writing began when he wrote a short story at age 17, while sat in a derelict car, which went on to be broadcast on BBC Radio 4.

Author Simon Culleton

Author Simon Culleton

He loves to travel and has worked his way around the world, undertaking jobs from snow clearing in Sweden, to construction work in California, to working as a farm-hand on an Australian sheep station. Simon has a passion for chronicling everyday people, including interviewing war veterans in his earlier travels, which extends even to himself: he has maintained a personal daily diary for over 40 years.

 

For your chance to join Attiya and Simon on the virtual stage, you need only submit your best 1,000 words of fiction or creative non-fiction to Rebekah.Lattin-Rawstrone.2@city.ac.uk along with details of your City Short Course. Though we’re happy to read Middle Grade and YA, we don’t accept children’s picture books, poetry or drama, but… anything else goes! Click here for full submission guidelines.

The deadline for submissions is midnight 10th June 2022.

You can register for the Zoom event on Thursday 7th July at 7pm now.

We can’t wait to check out your entries and see you at the event when these two fantastic writers will be joined by the brilliant competition winners whose work is already making its journey through the web as you read this post.

Get writing, get submitting, and good luck!

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