Monday, March 14, 2011

One Bite of the Big Apple

First, I'd like to comment on a few stereotypes of New York that have been broken down for me by the adventures of today.

  1. New Yorkers are mean. No, they're really not. Like the ultimate tourists we are, we asked a woman walking by to take a picture of us in front of a cute ice cream shop called Sundaes and Cones. She went out of her way to take it at the right angle and with proper lighting.

  2. New York is loud. Maybe it's because it's on a Monday night, but New York really isn't that loud. Sure, there are a few more ambulance noises than in Minneapolis, but overall not too much noise. In fact, I'd say when we went out to explore the city later in the night we were the most noisy, obnoxious people (perhaps I shouldn't drag innocent people along with me here. I was the most noisy, obnoxious person singing an off-tune rendition of "Spiderman Spiderman. Does whatever a spider can.")

So that was just a note of the culture I've observed.

New York has been interesting so far. We took time to explore the city with a scavenger hunt after landing and getting a bit settled. It was definitely fun walking around the city in the fast-paced ways of regular New Yorkers - or my stereotypical image of them. I wasn't in too big of a culture shock. It's basically a blend of Minneapolis and Cairo. More ethnic - with lots of halal food - and populated than Minneapolis, but less of both than Cairo. There's definitely a feeling of "epic-ness" about it though. It's really like the lyrics of Empire State of Mind (which we sang shamelessly). A city that seems full of dreams, and we're here to make one of those dreams come to life.

The day began on a high and ended with a positive yet nervous energy about the next day's activities. First, we'll be volunteering at various food-related volunteer organizations. In the afternoon, we will be revisiting the day that changed the U.S. forever. Tomorrow will be the day we visit Ground Zero. We'll learn about how the events unfolded and we'll hear stories of how it impacted people of all faiths and of all walks of life. We will then head off to Park 51, the mosque full of controversy over its location. Perhaps this step we're taking in reevaluating events together will be a small step in the U.S's and the world's reevaluation of its biased opinions. Stay tuned.

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