New York City Adventure

Last Saturday Gina Fullam (a summer 08 intern) and I were able to see months of our work come to fruition in the New York City Adventure. Twenty high school and college students joined us on a somewhat gray Saturday to run around New York to better understand the work of WYA and this wonderful city.

We have spent the past several months running around the city finding places of interest to have the kids visit. The idea was to find interesting “cultural gems” in New York that we may pass every single day without noticing them and draw the students’ attention through clever clues. Did you know, for instance, that there is a piece of the Berlin Wall that is displayed in a courtyard on 53rd Street? Or in Grand Central Terminal, many people know that there are constellations on the ceiling, but if you look closely you will see that they are painted backwards. Why is that? We directed the students to a secret whispering wall under Grand Central to find the answer, of course, they had to do some jumping jacks before we would whisper it to them (pictured).

We also included a stop where they learned a few moves of Hap Ki Do from our dear friend Ken, a blackbelt instructor, and a stop where former and present interns Tessy and Mathew provided authentic Kenyan cuisine for the students’ tasting pleasure. We hoped to illustrate dignity through activity, food, history, cultural awareness and architectural exploration. We then brought all of the scavenger hunters back here to the WYA house on the Upper East Side for a reception with pizza, bagels and a short presentation about the work of WYA. Everyone was pretty excited about the hunt, and about WYA- the kids bringing great enthusiasm despite their weary feet that had traipsed this whole city all day. Hopefully the pizza and prizes revived them a bit.
I personally had the opportunity to spend the day at various stops photographing and videotaping the hunters, and hopefully a video will show up in the next few weeks on the website, this blog and maybe even YouTube to show some of the things we saw as we traversed the subways, tried to figure out clues, and found ourselves in train stations, cathedrals, among the skyscrapers and even up to the top of a bonny Irish hill. We look forward to next year’s event and all the new things our hunters can find to do in this city. Oh what a city it is!

Casey Downing – World Youth Alliance