Homeless Journey of a Former Fashion Stylist

Homeless Journey of a Former Fashion Stylist from Kamana Shrestha on Vimeo.

Forty-Three year old Claudia came to the United States to pursue the American dream.

But her life took a turn for the worst when she lost her job as a fashion stylist for a hip hop entertainment magazine in 2007. She got evicted from her apartment in Harlem in late 2009 and found herself on the streets and homeless beginning 2010. Her journey is one of heartache. Every night she would look for a place to sleep and winded up having to sleep in every place imaginable  — from storage rooms, subway cars, city parks, to the bathrooms in Penn station and even a crack house. Her daily meals consisted of whatever was on the $1 menu in Burger King and McDonald’s.  Through it all she never gave up hope that one day her prayers would be answered and help would come.

And it did on Nov. 13 2010.  As she stood outside a parking lot asking God to help her, a woman named Liz offered her a place to sleep for the night. From that night on she ended up staying at that place for three and a half months. She moved out in March 2011 and found a room in the brownstone she currently lives in and pays rent for the first time since being evicted in early 2010. Her dad has been helping her with the rent.

Luck has not been on her side this year. She was attacked in the subway near her home in late summer. The perpetrator was never caught. In October, she slipped on the floor and fractured her wrist.  She had to wear a cast for six weeks.

Although the glamorous life she once used to know is a thing of the past, she hopes she can one day return to the glitz and glam. In the meantime she is looking for a full-time job and is still unsure how she will pay next month’s rent.


Romance in the Workplace Survey Analysis

I surveyed people about their experience dating a coworker and got a good number of responds. In total 57 people took the survey and about half of them (54%) said they never dated a coworker while 46% said that they had. The 12 questions that were on the survey were a mix of multiple choice questions and open ended ones. The participants seemed to have enjoyed the open ended portion of the survey the best as it let them share their personal stories of romance in the workplace. Most them shared stories about how the relationship in the workplace led to awkward moments or simply good friendships. Some lasted and some ended but in the end the participants of the survey who did date seemed to have faced similar challenges. The wordle below shows some of the key words used in the responses which I think illustrate key components in dating coworkers, the main words being “time” whether it be not having enough of it to date the coworker or not having the same schedules  where their times coincided.

Most of the people who did date in the office dated a co-worker that was in the same department while others dated those in a different department. However, most of the participants said the person they were dating were neither a coworker or in a different department. Based on many of them responding with “Other” it was hard to track the what kind of relationship they had with the person in the work place.

In the end, the survey gave a good insight of the kinds of relationships that come out of dating co-workers. For some, about 18% it lead to serious committed relationships and for a few, 7%, it ended up in marriage. And for 16%, the relationship didn’t last and they broke up. This subject for the survey explored the fine line that most people had to walk between when deciding to date a coworker. Some chose not to take the risk at all and thought it was inappropriate, avoiding it all together.



Diamond Cut Barber Otis Tyson Knows Best

Otis Tyson, 62 has been a barber for over 45 years. Growing up in Havana, Cuba, he used to watch his grandfather cut hair and says that’s where his connection and passion for the the profession grew.

But this charismatic barber didn’t start out in the business, he was an accountant first and went to Law School at NYU for a semester before dropping out and working in sales.  He sold commercial furniture and traveled nationally before he realized his passion remained at a barber shop and cutting hair invigorated him like nothing else.

He calls the barbershop a place for camaraderie among the men who work there and the clients they serve.  He likes that he can make up his own hours and in essence be his own boss.

On a typical day you can find Tyson working 12 hour shifts and tending to over a dozen loyal clients who have followed him to the very shop he is in now. Building a clientele base only comes with time he says and trust is something that needs to be earned. And over the span of four decades, his barber’s chair has become a place for therapeutic sessions for the many men who come to him not only for a haircut  but also guidance.


Diary Post: Workplace Romance Survey

When creating this survey, I wanted to choose a topic that most people would be interested in. Since I knew a fair amount of people who had dated their co-workers I thought creating a survey that asked participants what was the result of the dating would be interesting.

I found that when making up the questions, having some that were open ended were the best way to get good full-fledged responses. The participants were very open and talked about their experiences with dating people that they have worked with while also disclosing some funny and intimate anecdotes. Even though my survey had more questions than other people’s survey in the class, I think it worked. The participants were very willing to answer all questions and didn’t leave any blank, which I found to be very encouraging. They also forwarded the survey to other friends and colleagues which allowed me to get a good range of people.

I ended up with 60 people who took the survey. The results surprised me because I thought there would be more people who dated a co-worker than not. But the results showed there was pretty much an even amount with most people admitting nothing happened after the dating and that it was awkward once they broke up.

Conducting this survey was really fun for me because I got to read people’s responses about how they handled being around a co-worker that they dated and how they dealt with the awkwardness that came afterwards.

Combating Sex Trafficking in NYC

New York City Council members held a meeting on Wednesday on combating sex trafficking in the city. There were testimonies from NYPD, advocacy groups and district attorneys from Queens and Brooklyn all discussing the progress made by law enforcement and criminal justice courts in the crack down of sex traffickers in New York.

The meeting also shed to light many of the challenges still faced by officers who testified that their success has been limited to mostly domestic cases. There have been 76 cases of sex trafficking in the city this year so far with 70 separate arrests made by the human tracking team, which is part of the Vice Enforcement Division of the NYPD.

However, the team hasn’t had much luck with international cases, having almost no arrests on that level this year. This information shocked and perplexed council members who heard the testimonies and asked for stronger connection between NYPD and local officials in various boroughs to bring awareness about international rings in immigrant communities.

Audience members like Ellen Gorman, a psychotherpaist and member of Women’s City Club of New York found police efforts in patrolling the city for traffickers weak and called for stronger laws and harsher punishments for the “users” also knows as ‘johns’ of the sex trafficking business.

1. Ellen Gorman talks her club as been one of the key forces in bringing together meetings that raise awareness about sex trafficking in the city:

2.Ellen Gorman talks about sex trafficking being prevalent in many parts of the city:

3. Ellen Gorman talks about rescue efforts by law enforcements and the victim’s reality after years of abuse:

Ambi from meeting – Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras starting the meeting:

Nepalese Dashain Festival

At the Divya Dham Temple in Woodside, Queens, the Nepalese community gathered for the annual Dashain celebration on Oct. 6th. The 15-day religious festival is the biggest and longest auspicious celebration in the Nepalese calendar and traditionally thousands flock to the temples to take part in religious ceremonies and bring with them abundant offerings of fruits, dairy products, and homemade sweets to the deities. The festival falls around September –October, starting from the bright lunar fortnight and ending on the day of the full moon.

The most popular deity that is worshiped is Goddess Durga, who symbolizes invincible power and patience. The worshipers bring with them silver plates filled with various religious offerings to give to the goddess during the pooja such as flowers, incense and holy water. At Divya Dham, a Hindu temple, Nepalese families and friends from around the neighborhood gathered for the 10th night celebration of Dashain as they huddled in a circle around the goddess while the priest chanted religious scriptures and blessed the crowd. Women adorned in traditional bright red saris and vibrant jewelry were among the sea of colorful participants.

Towards the end of the ceremony, the priest blessed the people in the crowd with Tika, which is made of white rice grains and red colored powder mixed in yogurt and placed on the middle of forehead in small amounts. During Dashain, Tika is usually given to the younger members of the family by the elders who give blessings of longevity and a prosperous life. It is believed that Goddess Durga bestowed ‘shakti’ (power) to the Nepalese during Dashain.

Shattering the Glass Ceiling in the Workplace

Throughout history, the role of women in society has transformed drastically. From primarily being the caretaker in the family, to working in factories using their domestic skills to now being the bread winners in some families, women have evolved into strong members contributing to society in many different aspects.

However, like many minority groups in the U.S, they still struggle to move up the corporate ladder regardless of their qualifications or achievements. The glass ceiling in the work place has been something that has be visited and revisited as throughout time as more and more women try to establish themselves in the workplace. But ways to shatter the barrier is still something women struggle to find solutions for and even support from their male counterparts that rule the work sector in many fields.

Since the glass ceiling is invisible, it makes it hard to prove that such a road block does exist for women. What then becomes a challenge is shattering the unseen barrier and getting out of the web of discrimination faced by many.

As in the case of the recent firing of Carol Bartz, the former CEO of Yahoo. Media reported she was fired because she couldn’t revitalize the the online company. However, there has been debate over whether or not sexism played a role in her employment termination. Bartz was criticized for using foul language in public and presenting an “unlady” like image but what about all the male CEO’s who have done the same? In a corporate world, such behavior by men is much more tolerated than women doing the same. It doesn’t hurt their reputation as much and men are far less likely to be scrutinized than a woman would be in the same executive role.

Subjective reasoning will always favor one argument over the other, but in the end, women still find themselves outnumbered by men who get the top notch jobs in companies.  Whether or not women will ever be able to carve out a permanent,   impressionable place in a male dominated field is yet to be determined.

Video: Glass Ceiling Documentary 


5 Recession-Proof Jobs, Careers and Degree Programs

With people fearing they will lose their jobs in this unstable economy, here are some professions that will continue to be in demand:

1. Education

Our population is always growing, and schools are always tasked with the challenge of keeping up. Of course, with that comes an ever-growing demand for teachers to fill those positions.

If you are new to the teaching field, your best bet for getting started is a credential, best obtained with a Bachelor degree in teaching education.

2. Health Care

There are many paths to get started in the field of health care, and all of them open up a world of opportunities. One way is to get your nursing assistant certificate, start out in the trenches, and work your way up.

3. Law Enforcement

The good thing about police academy is that you only need a high school diploma to enter, but a little extra certainly never hurt: picking up a degree in legal studies.

4. Information Technology

Being so specialized, some sort of education in the field is absolutely mandatory. A very lucky few excel with self-taught computer skills, but the vast majority will find at least a bachelors degree helpful.

5. Energy

The state of the environment is one of the world’s biggest concerns these days, and one of the most pressing issues is the energy crisis.

Among the best for such a career is one of many available engineering degrees, be it civil or mechanical or industrial. A degree like this can give you the skills you need to help design a better solar panel, windmill, or whatever else you might dream up with your future team of energy experts to help develop a brighter future.