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Sound Bites - Issue #11 / July 2014


This Month's Topics:


Michelle King, Director Community and Contract Ed Michelle King, Director
Career & Contract Ed.

Our Pursuit of Excellence: Instructors Forum

At Community Education, we’ve been working hard to make your experience the best it can be, to be responsive to your wishes and our community’s needs.

That’s why this summer we just held two sessions of our 2nd Annual Instructors Forum, required of all our teachers.

What does the forum have to do with our pursuit of excellence? Everything. Our instructors are the heart of our program. And our forum seeks to elevate our expectations of our instructors and classes.

Instructors Forum
Instructors Forum 2014

Our two-hour forum sessions this year were packed not only with information, they allowed plenty of time for socializing and – as we expected – some wonderful cross-pollination of ideas among instructors from many disciplines.

For the first time, we gave each instructor a handbook with detailed information and guidelines on everything from syllabi to new course proposals.

Michelle King with InstructorHere I am at the forum talking to Betzi Richardson, who teaches basic mindfulness and poetry

And Jeffrey Francis from SMC’s Small Business Development Center gave an excellent presentation on “Change Management.” We all know that the world is rapidly changing and we all need to be ahead of the curve to adapt to – and thrive from – the changes.

We look forward to continuing to do all we can to make your Community Ed experience the very best it can be. Please feel free to contact me with your ideas and suggestions on our journey to excellence. I can be reached at (310) 434-3323 or Thank you.

Michelle King
Director of Career & Contract Education



Alice Meyering, Program Coordinator, Community and Contract Ed Alice Meyering,
Program Coordinator
Community & Contract Education

What's New:  The Magic of Andy House’s Photography

One of the great pleasures of my work is to get to know our students, and Andy House is one such example. We did a story on Andy and his photography in May, and have since recruited him as a contributor for Sound Bites in the hopes that his passion for traveling around the world will be shared with our readers through colorful and deeply moving photographs – captured, oftentimes, through endless patience on Andy’s part.

Myanmar - Men Unloading Boat
Myanmar - Men Unloading Boat

When I met Andy in a tiny noodle shop on the Westside for the first time, I was struck by how dedicated he was to the art of photography when he told me stories of spending numerous wee hours of the day just to capture a particular sunrise. Andy’s dedication to his art showed in his work, which was the main reason that I asked him to share these impressions with us through an intermittent column of photo stories. 

I had originally wanted to call it Where in the World is Andy House? But in typical Andy fashion, being the congenial photographer-next-door, he balked. After some haggling we finally settled on a mutually agreeable name, which couldn’t have been more suitable. Thus, Through the Viewfinder came into being and is making its debut this month.

Myanmar - Women Bathing Myanmar - Women Bathing

The first location Andy takes us to is Mandalay, Myanmar, on the Irrawaddy River, the lifeline that traverses through the country from north to south and is its largest and most important commercial waterway. The time is March 2013, and as Andy tells the story, the guide had just taken his group into a village on the bank of the river at sunset. The shanty village was made up of workers who unloaded ships working the river and their families.

What you can’t see in the photos is the complete sensory overload created by the techno pop music blasting across the beach out of a cheap P.A. system.  The odd combination of sweltering heat and humidity, the smells of spilled oil that permeated into the sandy river bank, the frenzy of activities around the men and trucks unloading the small ships, and the chaos of children running in circles around the travelers are at once exotic and disorienting. 


Myanmar - SunsetMyanmar - Sunset

At first, he was so overwhelmed he couldn't focus on what and how to photograph. But ultimately Andy’s ability to capture momentous images in seemingly insignificant human interactions came through, and these photographs are true testaments to his candid and unflinching observations of these faraway people, whose foreignness is rendered human and who resonate with some deep part inside of us across the ocean.

We look forward to more exciting photographs from Andy wherever he goes, and we thank him for generously sharing them with our readers.  I hope you enjoy them as much as I have.



See more of Andy's work at his Flicker page.


Excerpt: “My Blue Skin Lover”

Monona Wali (right) with student Rosa Melendez at a book launch party held in JuneMonona Wali (right) with student Rosa Melendez at a book launch party held in June

Monona Wali’s new novel, My Blue Skin Lover, was launched in June at a packed reading at Diesel Bookstore in Brentwood. The memoir writing and short fiction instructor’s book is about a woman’s affair with the Hindu god Shiva that leads to an erotic and dangerous dissembling of her marriage and life.

The following is an excerpt from the book, which is available on Amazon.  (Wali will be teaching several classes this fall. Check under Writing Classes.)

The woman goes down like a building. She’s big, buxom, and moaning.

“Oh, ooh, oh, girl,” she says, looking at me, desperate. I’m not half a block from Indo-Pak. My arm flies out, but she is more than I can handle. Down she topples, onto her pile of cardboard, on top of the watches, scarves, handbags, windup robots, and whatever else she is selling that day. I go down with her; slow motion, my shoulder bag and purchases colliding with the sidewalk. She clutches her chest. I right myself and kneel down next to her. She grips my hand.

“Is it your heart?”

“Oh, oh, oh,” she says, with pain. She’s gasping, short of breath.

My Blue Skin Lover cover

A blond man wheeling a carry-on suitcase stops, flips the lid of his cell phone, dials 911. “A woman is having a heart attack on the street.” He barks the coordinates. “Ninety-sixth and Amsterdam.” He has a military-style crew cut and has the stocky build of a bulldog, all muscles and sinew. He could easily handle her, but he keeps his distance. Others walk by, hesitate, move on. Do they think I have the situation covered?

I know this woman. I have walked by her many times. I nicknamed her Jangles long ago because her arms are always covered with bracelets—thick silver ornaments—that run the length of her arm from wrist to bicep. She conducts business on Amsterdam Avenue not far from our apartment. She sits on a lawn chair with odd bits of merchandise spread about her, hammers and hairnets and maps of Yugoslavia and the USSR and other places that don’t exist anymore. I once bought a used Burmese–English dictionary from her. She is like discarded newspaper. Sprays of gray and black frizzy hair that looks like sheep fuzz spill forth between the cracks of her ill-wrapped turban. She has a boxy transistor radio, and out of it I hear the squawk of some minister preaching.

Monona's Diesel Book ReadingMonona's Diesel Book Reading

She grabs my arm. Even if her heart muscle is giving out, her hand isn’t. She has me like a vice, and she isn’t going to let go. She looks at me, and I see her eyes are cloudy with pain. Then she becomes still—her eyes open and shut in slow motion. I look around, panicked. Oh, please don’t die, I think. “Please, please, please,” I whisper. I invoke Shiva, god of life and death, god of my dead saints, to come to her aid. I pray to him. I have never prayed before. I feel an expansive love for Jangles as I stare into her pained face, this person I do not know except as a creature of the street. I want her to live.


To register, call (310) 434-3400 or go to You can also email