Sign In
Santa Ana College
Contact Us

ESL at CEC (Fall 2011)

Department involved: ESL (English as a Second language) at (CEC) Centennial Education Center     

Course involved: Language Arts and ESL

Professor who participated: Susan Gaer

Number of students involved: 34

Method(s) used to incorporate book or themes of book w/students: Book Discussion and Facebook Page

Outcomes of Activity: Students wrote letters to Jamie Ford and received responses

Which core competency did your course activity support: (Communication Skills; Thinking and Reasoning; Information Management; Diversity; Civic Responsibility; Life Skills; Careers)? Communication Skills; Thinking and Reasoning

Did your course activity relate to a course SLO (student learning outcome)? No, it was an extra curricular activity. Students and teacher attended out of interest. There is no credit given for any of the activities. The book is so interesting that the students came every week. 

Student responses/comments related to course activity:​ Students were engaged and enjoyed reading the book and having a discussion.

Faculty feelings about success of activity: Extremely successful. Both faculty and students learned about themselves through reading the book together.

Would you incorporate future SAC Books of the Year into your curriculum? YES

Additional Comments: Facebook page:

A couple of letters to the author follow:

From: Jamie Ford <>
Date: Tue, Dec 13, 2011 at 8:37 AM
Subject: Re: The intensity of feelings in your novel...
To: Nancy Yanira Arriaza de Saucedo <>
Hi Nancy,
Thank you for writing!
Earlier on page 63, it says, "Henry nervously introduced himself." So Mrs. Pettison knows his name. It's easy to miss, I understand. But very good attention to detail. You might have a future as a book editor. :)
This is a transition chapter, where Henry is coming to the point of going through the belongings--really confronting the past in a roundabout way. I'm sorry, I just don't have time right now to Skype. I wish I could visit with your class in person! But I'm so busy writing at the moment, and I barely have enough time to catch up on emails (and holiday shopping).  Wishing you and everyone in Ms. Gaer's class the very best!

On Dec 6, 2011, at 10:59 AM, Nancy Yanira Arriaza de Saucedo wrote:
Hello, Mr. Ford
My name is Nancy Arriaza de Saucedo. I'm from El Salvador, and I am part of teacher Susan Gaer's Santa Ana College School of Continuing Education book club. Your novel Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet is fascinating because I feel immersed  in the stream of feelings described particularly in every page. Also, the way you describe the beauty in the difference of cultures between Henry and Keiko makes me feel more interested in reading the novel because I'm an immigrant in this important nation too as their parents were. Your book, Mr. Ford, is an extremenly valued source of information undoubtedly. However, I'd like to make you a question based on page 63 of the book. Why did Mrs. Pettison call "Mr. Lee to Henry when he never mentioned that name to her? Why doesn't this chapter seem to have the emphasis on the Japanese belongings? And Would you mind skyping with my class for a little while? Write me soon. Thank you!
Hi Anisa,
The quote I used was that "The hardest decisions aren't between right and wrong, but between what's right and what's best." I always saw Henry as someone noble, the way I wish we all were, someone that made tough decisions at great personal sacrifice. I guess I saw him as the kind of guys that fell in love a second time, with Ethel, and was committed to her and didn't want to revisit the past. Perhaps out of depression, or fear of failure or rejection…or as perhaps penance for letting Keiko go in the first place. I'm not sure…not entirely…
Thanks for the note. So glad you enjoyed the book!
Best wishes,

On Nov 29, 2011, at 1:26 PM, anisa siddiqi wrote:
Dear Mr.Ford, How are you doing these days. I hope you are working on your new book, which I like to read as soon as it's comes out. I have read your book "Hotel on the Corner of the Bitter and Sweet". It is a wonderful book. The way you take the reader from present to past and character of Henry is also very unique.I must say this book made me think about the feelings of characters,especially Keiko. But I have a question. Why did Henry give up so quickly and fall in love with another girl, and never looked back, or try to find Keiko?
Thank you for your time.
From: Jamie Ford <>
Subject: Re: letter from a book club member
To: "Maria Patterson" <>
Date: Saturday, November 26, 2011, 3:06 PM
Hi Maria, Thanks for the note, so glad your class is enjoying the book.
While the characters aren't biographical, or autobiographical in any way, they are infused with a lot of personal history (and angst) from my childhood, my dad's childhood, and a bit of my grandfather's as well. The biggest thing that came from my family history is that my dad (who was Chinese) wore and "I Am Chinese" button when he was a teenager--during WWII. He went to public school, but described kids throwing rocks at him and calling him a Jap.
Sorry I don't have time for Skyping at the moment, as I'm on a never-ending deadline. But thanks for thinking of me! I'd love to be there, but I'm busy writing.
Please give my best to Mrs. Gaer and the rest of your class!

Dear Mr. Ford,
I am a student at Centennial Adult Education Center, which is part of Santa Ana Community College. I am presently reading your book Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet along with my teacher Mrs. Susan Gaer and a group of students. We are enjoying the story about: Henry, Ethel, Marty, and the lovely Keiko and the rest of the other characters that make the story so interesting: full of love, hope, happiness, pain, and regrets perhaps. I do have a question did some of the events happen in your family, or maybe part of the events? They say that sometimes it is hard to know what fact is and what is fiction. Now I have a request what about sky ping with us here in sunny warm Southern California. I’ll wait for your reply hope it is yes! Thank you so much for your time.
Maria Patterson

  Above: Book Club - Morning Group 

  Above: Book Club - Evening Group

"I try not to live in the past... but...sometimes the past
lives in me."