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Experience of a Lifetime
Last week I went on the trip of my lifetime. I was able to partake in the New York college trip Ms. Regina set up to give East Oakland high school students, including me, an idea of not only what college is like, but what college and life is like in “The Big Apple”. I’ve always seen New York in movies and shows, but I never knew just how much it had to offer until last week.
The other students and I left from Oakland to New York on Southwest Airlines, our official sponsor for the tour. It was the first time I have been on a plane in about 5 years, so I was somewhat anxious. Fortunately, I was sitting next to people who made the flight fun, distracting me from my previous anxiety. After one pit stop in Chicago we were back on a plane for a four-hour voyage. I slept for about half the flight so it wasn’t too gruesome. Finally, we landed in New York at LaGuardia Airport. There we met some very nice employees who work for Southwest. We even took a picture with them. We then took a shuttle to the Courtyard Marriott were we would be staying for the next five days. The hotel, like any other building in Manhattan, was slim but tall. I guess the buildings are like this so they can fit more in a tiny space. Anyways, the hotel room was nice; very comforting after a long day of flying. After settling and getting acclimated to the hotel, we went to dinner at a Chinese restaurant with EOYDC alumni, Brittany Harris. We all ate and talked about what we would be doing for the rest of the week and we asked Brittany how she felt about New York. The most memorable moment of that night was most likely when Brent was confused on what to do with the broccoli. I laughed for hours just because of that one moment. After the great dinner we went back to the hotel to try and get as much sleep as possible before we woke to the adventurous day we had waiting for us.
Wednesday morning we were lucky enough to get a spot in the studio audience for Good Morning America (all thanks to Ms. Regina). Of course we had to take advantage of the TV time we would be getting by holding up posters representing EOYDC and the Pathway to College program. After pictures and a tour of the set the other students and I set off to the United Nations for a briefing from Scott Turner. I am so grateful that he was able to give a moment of his time to brief us students on the UN and what they do. I never knew exactly how many countries are a part of the UN, but if I remember correctly there are 192 countries in the UN. After the wonderful briefing we got, we headed to NYU to get a tour from another EOYDC alumni, Lanikque Howard. I had no idea that it wasn’t a traditional campus, but instead the NYU buildings were lined up and down the streets of New York! Pretty crazy. After that we headed to Juniors cheesecake restaurant in Brooklyn. To get there we walked miles and miles across the Manhattan Bridge. At the restaurant I had red velvet cake for the first time. So good! From there we went to speak with NYU Professor, Pedro Noguera about education and his thoughts. To end the wonderful day, we went shopping and met the coolest Foot Locker employees ever: Mel and Jen. I ended the day with the best sleep ever. I was so exhausted.
Thursday we went to take an official tour of the United Nations. The thing that stood out to me the most were the eight problems the UN hopes to have resolved in about 15 years. It’s great that they have a plan. From there we headed to the offices of Donna Karan International and got to hear from Sheila Parham and Felita Harris. The lesson I learned was to not sit around and hope that good things come to me, but to stick my neck out sometimes and strive to fulfill my goals. After touring the clothing line we went to the NBA offices to speak to TD, Shay, Megan, and Charles about what they do. Apparently if they weren’t where they are, there could be a less flattering Gatorade commercial on air right now. I’m actually interested in working for the NBA now. We ended the day at 106 and Park. I always watch it on TV but I never thought I would actually get a chance to sit in the studio audience. Even though the hosts weren’t that great it was still an event I will never forget.
The next day, Friday, we went for a tour at Columbia University. It had a nice campus and it seemed very academically focused. It would be a great school if it had more ethnic diversity. After the tour we went to get milkshakes and then we headed to Harlem to the Shabbazz museum. It’s in the building where Malcolm X was assassinated. I really took interest in the life-size statue of Mr. X. It showed so much detail. After the tour we headed to African Square in Harlem. There was so much culture in that area. I loved it. After spending most of the evening in what I call “a culturized Oakland” we headed back to the hotel to get rested up for the following day.
Saturday we went back to Harlem to finish up some shopping. After spending half of the day in Harlem we head to south Manhattan to get on a ferry that would take us past the infamous Statue of Liberty. Even though we didn’t get as close to it as I would of thought it was still an amazing opportunity to see the wonderful gift from Paris. To end the day off we went back to Times Square to the biggest Macys ever (seven stories of clothes and perfume)! After shopping, we went to hands down the best American food restaurant ever, The ESPN Zone. They had TV’s in the bathroom! The food was great too. I guess you can say the night ended in a near boom, because of the near bomb explosion. Fortunately we were able to make it back to the hotel safely. That night was probably the worst night for me because I knew I would be leaving the ensuing morning.
Sunday morning, I had to leave a wonderful city. Even though I’m mad I had to leave, I thank Ms. Regina and Southwest Airlines for supplying me with an opportunity I will never forget.