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Chinatown Manpower Project’s adult education students back in class after five-alarm fire

Just a week after a fire burned through a building housing a Chinese language school, some of its students are back to class at a temporary location nearby. 

“This is such a lucky break for us,” said Dong Yang, the Chinatown Manpower Project’s adult education program director while standing in an austere hallway on the 7th floor of the Overseas Chinese Mission. After a Jan. 23rd blaze engulfed the nonprofit’s former home at 70 Mulberry Street the outpouring of community help was incredible said Yang. Now, five rooms on the floor have been filled with writing desks, white boards. One of the rooms was even turned into a small a library. “It’s amazing,” added Yang. 

Adult Education Program director Dong Yang speaks with a NY1 reporter as students return to class after a five-alarm fire destroyed their school. (Photo by Alejandra O’Connell-Domenech)

Classes at CMP serve a s pipeline for for new New Yorkers from China to enter community colleges or training schools in the city. Each 13-week session of students will take English language and culture courses and introductory computer literacy classes. Upon completing classes, many students students to on to take classes at Laguardia Community College in Queens, where they can further improve their language skills and matriculate into degree-seeking programs.

According to Yang, since a new location was found so quickly, students have not fallen too behind in their classes. Students are teachers kept in contact with one another via WeChat, an online messaging platform, to relay updates about the 70 Mulberry reconstruction efforts and the search to find new classroom locations. 

Alejandra O'Connell-Domenech