- Special Projects
Elza Kochueva, a Brooklyn student, is from Russia and speaks Russian. But she looks Asian.
The young woman and her parents, Mongolian descendants from Russia, say there were persecuted in their homeland because of the way they look and their Buddhist beliefs.
Now the family faces a new crisis: possible deportation. Even as Elza Kochueva, who wants to become a lawyer, prepares to attend John Jay College of Criminal Justice in the fall, she and her parents are fighting a legal battle to remain in in the U.S.
They’ve been waiting for three years for their asylum application to be okayed. But a steep decline in approval for asylum petitions from Russian refugees has raised fears their American Dream will be dashed.
Brian Gewirtz, a 20-year-old man with autism, went missing from his Brooklyn home the morning of February 17, 2015.
His parents, Kathy and Steve, along with an extended family of volunteers launched a weeks-long search for him, with every minute chipping away at hope.
“It’s not knowing that’s difficult for the family,” said Kathy Gewirtz, 48. “It feels like a funeral without the funeral, because you don’t know.”
According to a study published by the American Academy of Pediatrics in 2012, almost half of all children with autism are prone to wandering. For people with autism, who have difficulty communicating and understanding danger, leaving the safe confines of home can too often end in heartbreak for all concerned.
The turning point in Marsha Trattner’s life as an artist came when she welded sculpting and blacksmithing. For Trattner, being a blacksmith is all about transformation: “You’re taking the metal and when it’s heating up, it’s changing its molecular structure. And there’s something very powerful in that moment,” she said.
Trattner, who works out of her own studio – She-Weld in Red Hook, Brooklyn – said she’s the only person in the city currently teaching blacksmithing.
She finds in her forge a much-needed break from the digital, tech-driven world.
“Here you can basically take something that is nothing, just a piece of metal, and you can turn it into something…. I think there’s just a lot of satisfaction in that, in still having some physicality and learning something creative and learning something that really has that history behind it,” Trattner said.