New York. From the very first trip we made going to New York, I think it might have been with Mrs. Austin-Richardson’s class when I was teaching at Seaford actually, I was inspired. I remember thinking, we are going to New York. We should create a project, and remember on that trip, we did recordings of individuals in New York about various topics. I never knew what that would lead to.
For years, while an educator at Seaford, we began attending workshops in New York at the CSPA Conference as an Aloha Yearbook staff, to gather ideas on the latest trends, practices and approaches to designing a yearbook, ad it was just amazing. Amazing to be among such an atmosphere of learning, be amid the city, simply BE. We began to tack on side missions while there, finding cool places to check out, individuals to interview and whoa. did things occur after that.
Taking a whole city for granted is unfortunate, and when the events of 911 occurred, of course everyone was in shock. I remember finding myself as a Middle School, Language Arts Teacher in Lusby, Maryland, and students I was not quite familiar with, burst into the room and rambled something about a plane, a building, and we began to see the events that truly seemed as a movie, unreal, not happening. Every one of us has a memory of where we were when this occurred and the feeling we could probably attach a hundred emotions to at one time.
I think this could be part of the attraction to New York that I was not aware of when it came to becoming a pilgrimage from those years on 2011 forward. Whether I realized it or not, I felt I could give something back, even if it was in the form of projects we listened to and archived.
I recall the year after 911 when we visited the site, and the smell of concrete and dust permeated every step we made. The interviews we listened to when people broke down about the event because no one had ever truly straight out asked them about this event.
The fire station right beside the 911 site that firefighters took us into, showed the memorial to firefighters that never returned from the rubble, the damaged door from one of the first trucks excavated from the site and returned to the station, the flag that was flown in Afghanistan in memory of those fighting from that very station.
The interviews from so many years past are hidden away in my storage among cd’s that contain those recordings and still will remain a project to recapture these and preserve them, from the many amazing experiences we found ourselves in each year we traveled to New York. We started a project that we just have not returned to.
Still one of the most amazing moments to me, was being able to visit New York from Mexico City, and still attend the CSPA Conferences on behalf of Repentino. magazine, and still include interviews and extended stops in New York that made a week long adventure within New York. The first year we did, we were amazed to meet with Mr. Michael Arad, architect of the memorial at 911, as he has attended ASF in Mexico City, and at the time, counselor Chris Hill – then counselor, enabled that meeting to happen. The small Repentino. staff, the first Repentino Staff, to attend CSPA found out so much about the 911 memorial thanks to Mr. Arad (page 31 of the FOCUS issue)
That original interview we did remains somewhere as well, and will be amazing to find after located. I remember still this day the panic I went through as I thought we would not make the appointment to meet, and then seeing him stand with an ipad held high as we made our way to his ipad standing in the middle of the memorial. Yet the impact of he events, despite that cold day, we just realized what we were seeing for the first time.
All of these memories come back to me as I work my way through the book, Battle for Ground Zero, and inform me of the battles that occurred during the planning phases of what is now Ground Zero. it is shocking to not know the amazing feuds that existed for what is now the site that holds so much for so many. Being able to go to this area tomorrow, with Math/Science Upward Bound, it is just so solemn and I feel as I hold in my hand so many years of experiences that I was lucky enough to have experienced with students that are now all over the world. We each hold a part of an experience that not only was New York as an adventure, but the lesson of what happens when tragedy hits a city that becomes a nation, that becomes a world event.
Looking back I relish whatever motivated me to want to do something more than be a tourist when we went and travelled to New York, otherwise, I would not have these memories felt, shaded, and expressed with so many talented young (then students) now members of society. Despite the worst that occurs in the world even today, that fact that hope exists and should and can be passed on? That is the reason everyone should be excited about a tomorrow. I am wondering how I will feel tomorrow as I return tomorrow with so much that has changed since these journeys we have made through so many years to New York.