Volunteering in Harlem
Then I looked across the street to where the breakfast line had been forming. In earnest, I was the only white male on the block that morning, let alone the only person under the age of 60. The line stretched down the block, under construction awnings and buzzed with Spanish and french.
Whenever I work with food banks, I typically sort fruit and veggies that are "aesthetically challenged" or package meals for the clients of the organizations. Today was very different.
I was dragged downstairs to a bustling cafeteria hall filled with people, was handed an IPad and given a 2 minute tutorial on how to manipulate the site where I would assist people and families select food plans. I found out that I would have to quickly recall my french and Spanish. I surprised myself, honestly, and by the end of the day didn't have to think about the instructions I was giving or the descriptions of the food products.
I love being able to practice languages. Maybe it is selfish, but I always say "you can only get so good at making a turkey sandwich", caricaturing a typical work day at a food bank. But I valued this language practice skills in the same way that I value Habitat construction; I walk away with a further developed skill at the end of every involvement.
While driving, when not listening to music or to my audiobooks (I've gone through 12 now I think), I have been listening to my favorite French and Spanish podcasts. If you haven't yet, you need to check out Radio Lingua. They have free podcasts for almost every language you can imagine. My favorites are Coffee Break Spanish and Coffee Break French
Adventures in the City
I hardly remembered any of the city other than the Main Terminal of Grand Central (pictured below) and the constant feeling of overcrowdedness and worry. But this time around, and after a little reassurance, I fell in love.
The best, were the saxophonists:
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Here are some of my favorite photos from the park:
World Trade Center
Everyone passing by acknowledges each other in the area - something truly foreign to all other places in the City where if you stop to say hi, you are getting in someone's way.
Natural History Museum
I remember fishing trips in Wisconsin where we stopped in to look at a fishing museum, one that we had seen multiple times in prior years, on our way out of the town. We are nerds.
Maybe even more than the photos I've seen of Glacier National Park, Yellow Stone, Yosemite, and of California sunsets, the two photos below are my favorite photos in the entire universe.
The photo to the left is called the "Pillars of Creation". It's impossible to imagine, but those finger shaped pillars of gas are actually one light-year tall. The photos taken by the Hubble Telescope led to the naming of the pillars due to the fact that they portray the creation of new stars. But I have a different take.
The image is eerily similar to an outstretched hand. More specifically, it looks like the hand that was depicted by Michaelangelo, belonging to God as he extended it to Adam, on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel
Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty
That is what makes the Lady, and the museum at Ellis Island so special. You arrive by boat to the same island and walk through the same doors, upstairs and into the same main hall that your family once did. You registered and then were immediately inspected by a physician who held the power to send you home.
The inspections took an average of 6 seconds by doctors who had become finely tuned instruments of disease detection.
Below are some of the photos of the island and the museum as well as views of the Manhattan skyline from the harbor, while aboard the ferry.
I know that I would have been totally lost without your help. And I know that without you, I wouldn't have been able to explore the city in nearly the same way. Thank you.