Jhumpa Lahiri and RHODE ISLAND!

Did you know that Jhumpa Lahiri, the author of The Namesake, grew up in Rhode Island, the best state in the United States of America (and coincidentally the state where I’m from) ?


Here is an article written on the University of Rhode Island’s website detailing her connection with the state:



If you loved The Namesake, Lahiri has also written a book called The Lowland, which takes place in Rhode Island.

Q: “The Lowland” is, for a large part, set in Rhode Island, and as a native Rhode Islander myself, I have to thank you, because we don’t get many novels. We’re often seen as, the book points out, so marginal that we tend to be identified on maps by an arrow pointing inward from the ocean.

A: I’m from Kingston, R.I., sort of on the University of Rhode Island campus, on the margins of that, actually. My parents still live there, about two miles from the campus. I think I have written about Rhode Island in the past, but I think in the earlier books I was reluctant to mean it, to mention it. In the first book I was certainly picturing and pondering Rhode Island in my head but I didn’t write the words “Rhode Island.” At first I set work in Massachusetts, which I found a good alternative, and it was a place I also knew very well. Still, if there is any fact written on the back of my books, it’s that I grew up in Rhode Island, so I don’t know what it was exactly — probably out of not feeling like I could picture the state properly in my writing. Also, my relationship to the state, I didn’t know what it was. Not that my relationship to it is the relationship that people in this book have. Maybe it’s simply because it is where I am from. Plus, my upbringing felt so charged and confused in a lot of ways, I wasn’t ready to make where specifically I was from so explicit yet.

taken from http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2013-09-22/features/ct-prj-0922-lowland-jhumpa-lahiri-20130922_1_jhumpa-lahiri-bengali-american-lowland

For more about the author, check out this radio interview:


How annotation is like # hashtagging

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Here are some photos of a couple of pages in my book. Notice how I use what I write in the margins. I do this for the same reason social media uses #hashtags!

I’m reading right along with you this summer! Did you know The Namesake (the required reading in PREM and TERM) takes place where I’m from (and where I am currently), in the northeastern region of the United States called New England? Cambridge, Massachusetts is about an hour drive from Rhode Island and just outside of Boston! (Rhode Island is mentioned in the book! Can you find the page where this occurs?!)

As you read the book, you’ll notice there are common themes and symbols. Some of these in The Namesake are…

#names, #death, #integration, #cultural differences, #Americans (and what they are like), etc. You can also “hashtag” character names, to keep track of important information you gather about them.

When I start to notice that the author seems to comment on something a lot, I develop a “hashtag” and write that “hashtag” in the margin. My notes in the margins and my underlines allow me to flip through my book and collect information, quickly identifying important moments and making connections underneath each “hashtag.”

Happy Reading!

Write in your books! How to successfully ANNOTATE and why

What is annotation and why should I do it?

Your whole life you’ve been told NOT to write in books. Now I’m going to tell you to do the opposite. Why?


1)…make it easy to find important information quickly when you look back and review a text.

2)…help you familiarize yourself with both the content and organization of what you read.

3)…provide a interact with and understand what you are reading through comments, questions, associations, or other reactions that occur to you as you read.

In all these ways, annotating a text makes the reading process an active one, not just background for writing assignments.

A well-annotated text will accomplish all of the following:

•clearly identify where in the text important ideas and information are located

•express the main ideas of a text

•trace the development of ideas/arguments throughout a text

•introduce a few of the reader’s thoughts and reactions

modified from http://rwc.hunter.cuny.edu/reading-writing/on-line/annotating-a-text.pdf

When you are annotating, you are understanding more deeply, and you are studying and learning deeply without even really trying! This means that later on, you will have less work to do!

Here are some examples of annotated readings. You may choose to use more colors, highlighters, sticky notes, etc. to create your own system of annotation that makes sense to you.

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Try using different symbols, for example:

  • UNDERLINING: Underline (or highlight) all unfamiliar words. Later you can come back and write a synonym or brief definition of these words in the margins.
  • ARROWS: Draw arrows within the margins to show how ideas relate to one another. (Maybe how supporting details connect to the main idea.)
  • NUMBERS: Use numbers to indicate steps in a process, lists, important details, etc.
  • QUESTION MARK: If something in the text causes you to ask a question, make a note of it in the margin.
  • STAR or ASTERISK: Use this symbol if something stands out as important or interesting.
  • EXCLAMATION MARK: Represent points you disagree with by writing an exclamation mark in the margin. (In a few words, jot down your contrary thought.)
  • ABBREVIATIONS: Use your text-message spelling as shorthand notes (e.g., humorous parts with LOL).
  • MARGIN NOTES: If something in the text causes you to have a comment, make a note of it in the margin. (This may include quick nutshell-summary notes.)


We have high standards for students in International Section—meaning, we treat you like native speakers and expect that you have already acquired your foundations in grammar! If you want to strenghthen those foundations, however, here are some useful tools to master grammar this summer!


1) Using this website you can brush up on all the tenses. Read the tutorial under “topics covered” and complete the corresponding exercise. Then press “check” to see if your responses are correct!


2) Once you feel you have a hang for things using the tool above, go ahead and play some grammar games!


3) With this website, you can work on verb conjugation. Choose a tense, choose “regular” or “irregular” verbs depending on how courageous you are feeling, and then fill in the boxes with the correct conjugation and check your answers.



Go to it, and let us know which tools you find the most useful!


The author of THE NAMESAKE, the required reading in both Première and Terminale, is JHUMPA LAHIRI—NOT  Mira Nair as was written in the newsletters.


See the previous post for the link to purchase the book on Amazon.