Monthly Archives: January 2015
January 20, 2015
When I told my friends I would be interning in New York City this summer, the first thing I was warned about was the commute. It can’t be that bad, I naively thought. Needless to say, on my first day home from work I took the wrong train on the subway and got lost in Port Authority.
“Don’t worry,” my mother said. “Eventually, you’ll get really good at commuting.”
After experiencing several weeks of the Lincoln Tunnel Lifestyle ™, I realized my mother was right. Now that I’ve become something of an expert, I’m graciously sharing my tips and tricks for conquering the commuter bus – and beyond.
1. Assert Yourself
Some might deem it impossible to make the 6:20 p.m. bus when work ends at 6 p.m., but trust me, anything is possible if you just believe make it a mission to get to the bus stop. I find it most effective to eschew walking altogether and simply jog through the underground connection path. This can be difficult, particularly due to the fact that these walkways are often crowded with lost tourists, or groups of teenage girls who feel it necessary to walk in a horizontal line, creating a human wall. Although this creates an issue, I remember being one of this breed long ago (or last year). One day they too will be commuters, and they will understand.
2. Come Prepared
Since a bus ride can last up to two hours due to traffic circumstances, I find it crucial to pack accordingly. My Commuter Survival Kit includes noise-eliminating headphones, a good playlist on Spotify, gum and large, dark-framed sunglasses.
3. Make Friends
I feel it is wise to spread a little good karma through the rows of bus seats. This is where making friends comes in. Often, there is congestion in the bus garage that causes my bus to be late. Although this can be annoying, one veteran commuter, a UPS guy, is never afraid to push into the garage and shout our bus number at the dispatchers until it arrives. Offering him a supportive high five ensures that he will continue this practice in the future. Another friend is the sassy lady who somehow managed to collect the cellphone numbers of several of our route’s bus drivers. Becoming friends with this lady has proven advantageous, because we can always figure out where our bus is if it’s running late. These friendships not only make for a more collegial wait, but a shorter one as well.
Although nothing can make the bus move faster once it’s on the road, these strategies have allowed me to whittle my evening arrival to a much more manageable 7:20, thus expanding my time for socializing Netflix. Follow my expertise, and anyone can master the art of commuting.
January 20, 2015
Having lived in Potomac, Maryland for my high school career, I am no stranger to D.C. I have toured the national museums, walked up and down the mall, and experienced lots of different cultures’ cuisines through the District’s array of restaurants. However, there is something to be said about spending the summer in D.C.
Most people focus on the sweltering heat and humidity that plagues the District in the summer but now that I go to school at the University of Vermont in Burlington, I have a new appreciation for the warm weather. There’s something very refreshing about not having to bundle up simply to walk down the street.
Besides the weather, I really enjoy all the events that the District has to offer in the summer. One of my favorites is Jazz in the Garden at the Sculpture Garden. I love sitting around the reflecting pool with my toes in the water and listening to the smooth sound of jazz and people chatting around me. I often venture to Jazz in the Garden a few Fridays of the summer with a couple friends to enjoy the summer afternoons and the music.
There are many other fun events that I have yet to explore such as the Folklife Festival. This year they are showcasing Kenya and China. Hopefully, I’ll get a chance to experience the festival this summer.
January 15, 2015
As a 19 year-old boy standing in Kigali Airport with my over-stuffed military duffle bag, I could never have conceived how greatly one summer would alter the way I saw and thought about the world. Though I was booked to fly to Rwanda months in advance, took all of those nightmare-inducing malaria pills, and learned a few basic phrases in Swahili and Kinyarwanda, I had forgotten the plain fact that adventures and epiphanies can’t be planned.
As part of a group of five students from St. Andrews University in Scotland, we were the first unpaid volunteers that had been in the country since the Rwandan Genocide in the early 90s. For a little over a month we would be living in the southern Nyamagabe region and teaching classes in the Kigeme UNHCR refugee camp. The people living in the camp had escaped the violence between the rebel group M23 and Congolese government forces, and were simply looking for a place to live in peace and safety. Though they had established a school in a nice brick building for the camp’s children, the school only taught students until the age of 16-17. There were many in the camp whom had left the brick school behind, but had not yet quenched their thirst for knowledge. At the top of the biggest hill, these 18-25 year old learners had constructed a shelter of wood and blue Unicef tarp to teach and learn from one another and from refugees whom had been teachers back in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
They were students unlike any I had encountered in my life. In America and in the UK, school – for many people – is a process of trying to achieve the highest grades, a way to gain entry to famed and prestigious schools, and a name to type proudly atop a resume for job interviews. In Kigeme, however, school was a personal journey of learning about the greater world around them. There were no parents nagging them to get to class, no true grades, and – sadly – a very slim and distant chance of ever attending university. They were there because they were curious enough to learn for learning’s sake, and nothing more.
This inspired me as I went back to university, and even now in NYC, to challenge and appreciate the world of privilege that surrounds me. No one chooses the circumstances of life that they inherit; I had no more choice in being born an American than they did of being children of Lake Kivu, yet our worlds are completely different as a result.
Though our lives are so separate, there is something so common and bonding between us, which I had naively neglected to consider before my trip. We all grapple with the same questions, laugh at the same jokes, and smile on a sunny day. Though my title was “teacher,” I learned more in just over a month than much of my life as a student.