Nicole Barens 02
1. When was this photo taken?
2. Where was this photo taken?
Chinatown, San Francisco, CA
3. Who took this photo?
I did - Nicole Barens
4. What are we looking at here?
This is a view of rooftops in Chinatown with the San Francisco Bay in the distance. You'll notice two Taiwanese flags and a building dated 1920 with a Chinese style pagoda roof and painted balcony typical of the time.
5. How does this old photo make you feel?
It makes me a little nostalgic for City College's old satellite campuses. They were very run down but full of character. We now have a big, modern multistory building, which definitely facilitates teaching and the learning process, but sometimes I miss the cozy chaos of the old buildings.
6. Is this what you expected to see?
No -- I'd completely forgotten I'd taken these photos.
7. What kind of memories does this photo bring back?
It makes me remember teaching ESL to packed classes of primarily Chinese students. There was often a sense of barely managed chaos in these classes for reasons I've never quite understood, I could never get a good 50% of the large classes to follow directions. Despite, or maybe because of this, it brings a smile to my face because we usually ended up having fun and I managed to teach something despite the seeming disorder. No matter how many times I taught there and because I am not Chinese, I still always felt a small charge of excitement when entering Chinatown as an instructor -- that small sense of wonder that accompanies traveling to a new culture.
8. How do you think others will respond to this photo?
I think perhaps it will inspire some curiosity, where is this? It might also provide that sense of an insider's view that one cannot get from the street in a dense city. It is only when you enter one of the buildings and look out a back window that you are able to see the intimacies of daily life such as rooftop laundry juxtaposed with a more familiar skyline.