Peralta Community College District's Only Student-Run Publication
Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

Abigail McMurry, Acting President of Associated Students of Laney College, spoke against last-minute class cancellations at the May 14 Board of Trustees meeting.
Class cancellations, basic needs, and 'flying pigs' at 5/14 meeting for PCCD Trustees
Ian Waters, News Editor • June 1, 2024
Student Trustee Natasha Masand believes her voice has the power to impact the PCCD community.
Student Trustee Natasha Masand finds her voice
Isabelly Sabô Barbosa, Social Media Editor • March 19, 2024
Melanie Dixon appointed CoA President
Melanie Dixon appointed CoA President
After two years of acting appointments, the College of Alameda will finally fill the presidency with a permanent hire this summer
Ivan Saravia, Staff Writer • May 23, 2024
College of Alameda jazz professor Glen Pearson demonstrates his musical talent on his classroom piano. Hes one of the newest members of the Count Basie Orchestra, a historic 18-piece jazz ensemble that took home a Grammy this year.
The humble Grammy-winning pianist leading CoA’s music program
Desmond Meagley, Staff Writer • March 4, 2024

Tea With Tamara: Lily Leung, Laney Library Technician II

In this bimonthly column, I chat with folks from the Peralta community and ask ten questions aiming to make everyone more relatable to each other. (Graphic by Randi Cross/The Citizen)

This week, Lily Leung, Library Technician II and San Francisco native shares her outlook on life, and a bit of tea.

If you’ve been to Laney College’s library, dubbed the “heart of the campus,” you have probably been helped by Leung, who has worked at Laney College for over three decades.

Leung, whose parents are from Hong Kong and China, is a first generation San Franciscan, graduating from City College of San Francisco with an Associate of Arts.

We kicked off our ten questions speaking about one of my favorite subjects: food!

This conversation has been edited for clarity and length.

T: So Lily, you mentioned that you liked dim sum and fried rice. What are some of your favorite foods?

Leung: I like Japanese food, Korean food… I also go to the Laney Bistro on Wednesdays and Thursday nights because they have international cuisines, like different countries. Yesterday and today they had French dinner. You know, these students here are pretty impressive, you know, cooking these different dishes and desserts.

T: And for breakfast would you rather have pancakes, waffles or French toast?

Leung: I like waffles. There’s a place in Alameda, it’s called Ole’s Waffles. They make real good waffles and hash browns. And toast. I like pancakes, but I’m more of a waffle fan.

T: What is one of the greatest compliments you’ve ever received? 

Leung: Recently I was, uh, nominated as Employee of the Year [Classified Employee of the Year Nominee], for being hard working, and, you know, helping students, staff and faculty. I put in a lot of my time to help students answer questions or whatever help they need on the computer.

T: How did you get into [working in a library] after you went to school for the arts?

Leung: I used to work at the San Francisco Public Library, at the Marina Branch library. And I thought it would be interesting to like, meet people and work with the patrons who may need help finding things like magazines or books, or novels in the library. And then going back to my college years, I used to work for the City College of San Francisco’s library as a student worker, to put the books in alphabetical order by author and title, and also nonfiction books in Dewey Decimal order.

Slideshow: Pictures of Leung, from child to senior. Photos courtesy of Lily Leung

T: You have a really amazing ability to recall dates and whatnot. Has your mind always worked that way?

Leung: I remember numbers, and then, you know… I wish I could win a lottery ticket based on the number I picked but it doesn’t work that way. I’m good at remembering numbers, like whether it’s a book, like a call number, I remember the categories, where the books would be. If a student were to ask me, ‘Where are the books on plays?’ I can remember which section of the call number the books on plays would be. Then I give them directions, and give them the paper printout of the library bookshelf in a range of numbers to look for the book.

T: Would you rather explore the depths of the ocean or outer space?

Leung: I think the ocean. I’m also curious about what’s in outer space too, because, you know, I see news about space astronauts going up to space. […] I don’t know if you have heard about the seven astronauts that got blown up from the space shuttle, long time ago. It was just a shock to me. These seven space astronauts went up and they looked like they were having a wonderful time; a fun and exciting time. But then, as the launch went up, the space shuttle blew up and all seven astronauts died. 

T: If you’re ever feeling down or sad or unmotivated; anything like that, what do you do to pick yourself back up? 

Leung: Oh, you know, I play tennis, go for walks, and go hiking, dancing, you know. Or watch a movie, or a comedy show, that helps to get my mind off things. And then, you know, keeping myself busy helping people, like at food banks. I used to volunteer at the food bank during the pandemic, because it was so depressing that everything was shut down. Schools and everything was shut down, everybody was sheltering in place. So I had to do something to overcome the depression. […] That’s exactly what I feel good doing and helping people who are less fortunate, just to put a smile on their faces.

T: Is there a favorite childhood memory or something you think about that makes you smile?

Leung: Yes. I used to go to Disneyland with my parents and my brothers and sisters. And I remember one special memory was that my parents and I used to ride in the boat ride in Disneyland, and then we would go through the, um – [singing] It’s a small world after all. It’s a small world after all. It’s a small, small world. That’s one thing I am always remembering when I see these commercials for Disneyland, that reminds me of my good old days with my parents and my family.

T: Do you have any pets?

Leung: No pets, and no kids. I used to have pets, but I’m working full time here, and my husband’s also working. It wouldn’t be fair to, you know, have a pet and have it be cooped up in the house all day. Maybe when we retire, then at least I’ll have more time to, you know, take the dog out for a walk. If I’m gonna get a pet, it will be a little puppy. 

T: Where do you see yourself in five years or 10 years even?

Leung: Well, I want to be able to spend time with my family and travel. Not necessarily around the world, but to places where I haven’t been to. Next month [this month], I’ll be going to Thailand. I’ve been to other places like Mexico, Hawaii, Lake Tahoe, Truckee, Reno, Seattle, Portland, Oregon, Canada and Alaska. I haven’t been overseas like to China or Hong Kong. I haven’t traveled enough for a long time since I’ve been working here at Laney. But I’m coming to a point in my life that I like to enjoy it with my family, friends and relatives while I’m still alive and healthy.

Say hello to Leung next time you’re in the Laney Library or food pantry on Wednesdays and Thursdays!

About the Contributor
Tamara Copes
Tamara Copes, Columnist
Tamara Copes is a California native with a nomadic spirit and curious mind. Deep family roots in Oakland brought her back here to live as an adult and since then she has involved herself in numerous and varied community projects; determined to leave her mark. When not working, you may find her dancing to House, Salsa and Hip Hop music or rolling around town running errands and rhythm skating. Tamara most enjoys creative forms of storytelling. She is on the hunt to find her place in the literary world and has returned to a Journalism major after 20 years of pursuing other interests.
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    Evelyn LordNov 29, 2023 at 1:47 pm

    Thank you to columnist Tamara Copes for your interview with Laney Library Technician Lily Leung. You perfectly captured Lily’s generous spirit and solid credentials as an essential library employee. I love the photos and the creative questions. I can’t wait to read your next interview.