A Day of Firsts

“When we got to New York I saw a lot of diversity and tall buildings.  I felt like an ant.” – Yormelis

On December 16th, UrbanTrekkers went to NYC with the 11th grade from UrbanPromise Academy.  Most students had never been to NYC before, and none had been to the 9/11 Memorial museum. Just like a NYC block, our day was packed to the brim and had a whole smattering of emotions to accompany the diverse experiences. 

Trekking in a city is definitely a different experience from trekking in nature. It’s a miracle more people don’t bump into one another in Times Square given the fact that most people are looking up in wonder, taking in all the details. Even with all the stimuli, students were still in tune with their reactions and responses to the events of the day:

“The whole trip was fun.  We walked Times Square and the atmosphere and the people in it were electric.” – DaJuan

“When I lived in El Salvador, I always wanted to go to [New York City] and the Statue of Liberty!  When I watched movies, I always thought that most of the places I saw probably didn’t exist… [but] I saw where the Twin Towers were located, I learned things I never knew, and I went to many places!” –Alejandro

“The most that stood out was that in the 9/11 attacks there were kids that died. Some of them were born when I was born in 1999—they only had lived for 2 years.  The media always concentrated on the adults, but not really on the kids, which stood out [to me].” –Yormelis

“…our first stop was the 9/11 memorial museum. Going in there I kind of knew what to expect but I didn't think I would cry so hard. There was so much to learn and so much to see and explore. There was this room and on the walls were all the people who died in the twin towers. I walked away from the wall and walked towards these tables that were touch screen. On the tables were the victims who died and a short story about who they were and what they were doing on the plane or in the twin towers. I was scrolling and there was a little girl who was on the plane with her parents headed to Disneyland. The little girl never made it there and she was born in 1999, so she would have been my age. That touched my heart and I will never forget about that.” –Mary Janne

Seeing NYC in the movies is different than seeing it in person, and being there in person connects you to the reality that places like this are within your grasp. Visiting the Memorial and hearing the victims’ stories at the 9/11 museum brings the events of that historical day to life, giving dignity and humanity to an attack that affected so many in our area. Living these experiences is a valuable gift that we are blessed to give to our students.