I had a college speech teacher who I did not really care for, but whose words I remember and still use today – If you do not have a personal experience with a person or situation, you would refrain from having an opinion about it. This has been true for me and NYC.
As I leave NYC, I think about what I was scared or worried of when I came and am forced to confront my own biases and stereotypes I continue to have, consciously or unconsciously, about people and places.
- I never once felt scared or threatened to be ‘mugged’. While I am sure this happens and I was possibly in safer parts of town, I really assumed I would feel times when I felt unsafe. There was a single instance when we went the wrong direction and ended up outside of a park where a van was providing something to a long line of homeless people. Was I feeling unsafe or just uncomfortable? There was also a drunk man on the subway, but he was a happy drunk and well supervised by his brother and only asked us to sing along to “My Girl”.
- The people of NYC will be rude. While they do like their car horns, we was treated with the up most respect and courtesy everywhere we went. The city should be proud of its hospitality and tourist industries. Along with all of the security people, these are the true stars of NYC.
- I was really amazed at the huge differences in wealth that is obvious in this city. I did not truly understand that a matter of blocks or a bridge will quite obviously separate the millionaires from those with not enough to get by.
- NYC is a dirty city. I rarely saw trash, except for at the end of the day when it was obviously being collected for disposal. I rarely came across foul smelling areas or areas that made me think of a dirty city. Overall, there seem to be programs in place to recycle and for street clean-ups. Even after the huge St. Pat’s parade, when you would think there would be trash, the city only had litter that evening and even then, not much. All signs were gone by the next morning. And we walked over 30 miles across this city, so we were provided with plenty of opportunity.
- I would never want to live in a city like NYC. Even though I don’t think I would want to give up my open view from my own front porch, after visiting this city, I see its allure. The variety of food, activities, and people would keep you supplied always with something new to try or see.
Overall, this has been a wonderful trip full of formal and informal learning. I definitely need to plan another adventure that challenges me to be real about my predetermined opinions.