Thursday, March 17, 2011

Amanda's Wednesday Report

A day late (or so), but not forgotten; I am here to catch up our avid readers to the goings-on through my perspective on Wednesday.

The morning started off dreary and wet. Breakfast was once again highly satisfying but couldn't ward off the drenching conditions those without an umbrella experienced. Sweatshirts were soaked and shoes were ruined, but my group braved the elements and made it to Trinity Lower East Side. There, Joe was promptly taken to lift heavy boxes while the rest of us donned hairnets, gloves, and aprons and set upon the task of chopping sweet potatoes and bagging onions.

Throughout the morning and early afternoon we were regaled by the upbeat and comical staff at Trinity. Sarcastic humor in both English and Spanish flowed continuously as we prepared, served, and cleaned up lunch and the food shelf supplies.

In case others haven't elaborated, at Trinity two different food-supplies are in place: the first is a lunch and the second is a food hand-out. While anyone can participate in the lunch, only those with state-certified residences can participate in the hand-outs. They can only receive food from the latter once a month.

The most heart-wrenching part of my experience at Trinity arises from this month restriction: A couple of ladies that had stood in line were told that they could not take any food today because they had already been there earlier in the month. Unfortunately, these ladies did not speak enough English to understand why they couldn't get food. The confusion on their faces was heartbreaking. On the opposite side, I was most touched by a gift from one of the men eating lunch. The day before, he had brought in free shampoo samples for everyone working. This day, I brought in two bouquets of flowers. He gave one of them to me. This man was so sweet in his generosity; for him to give to us when he was the one in need was so meaningful to me.

After our time at Trinity (in considerably better weather), we made our way over to the UN building. At the United Nations, we were able to see the General Assembly room since the members were not deliberating. We learned a lot of history and procedure regarding this organization and some general information on topics currently under debate, including Libya and Japan.

Directly following our time at the UN, we headed over to the Interfaith Church Center building and engaged in conversation with Doug Hosotetter. This conversation I found to be the most meaningful and insightful interaction we had aside from our time at Park 51 (which left me in tears). Doug's passion and compassion for his work and the people involved in it was so touching and moving. I cried when I learned about the genocide and persecution that occurred in Bosnia during my lifetime and the fact that I knew nothing about these events beside being told that Yugoslavia had been broken up and there had been a plethora of civil war. Civil War does not begin to describe the horrors and prejudice and persecution experience in this region. I was horrified that my education had been so lacking in regard to these events - events that would have fit in perfectly when we learned about the Holocaust and Rwanda.

It is my belief that many people hide from religion because they fear the conflicts that arise from it. But this hiding leads to ignorance and ignorance leads to greater fear. Debilitating fear. Fear that causes hate and creates the strife between religions. Rather than the school systems ignoring religions or just summarizing the basics, they should instead educate and remove the assumptions that ignorance creates regarding unfamiliar faiths.

After swallowing so many heavy topics and engaging in several heartfelt conversations, we had the remainder of Wednesday night off. A group of us tried our luck with rush tickets on Broadway with stunning success. Chelsea and I found ourselves on the main floor for Spiderman, Turn Off the Dark. The musical was fresh and terribly artistic with terrifying yet breath-taking aerial scenes. I couldn't believe some of the wire stunts they pulled and wasn't surprised to read that several of the creative directors had a history with Cirque'du Soleil. Arachne was stunning and Spiderman had David Tennant-esque hair. It was a light, good ending to a rather heavy (yet fulfilling) day.

As we head off to our remaining time in NYC, I hope to continue this awesome interfaith study and relationship building that has begun. It's surprising how much the work we are doing here and the bonds we are forming are beginning to mean to me.

Peace and Serenity to you all!

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