Day One: Culture Shock
What a day. It is currently 11:05 local time, and I am trying to get up the drive to write this blog with burning feet and a pounding headache. Well, griping aside–time to get to the blog.
Initial reaction to New York. I have to be honest, it wasn't good. Between the messed up Starbucks order and the strong smell of urine that seemed to come from everywhere, New York took some getting used to.
Our first stop was the ferry to the Statue of Liberty. We did not take the time to head up to the top since there is really no purpose other than a touristy stop. I will say I really enjoyed the ride over to the statue, and Lady Liberty was looking beautiful despite the hazy day. I also found out that today was the anniversary of the day it arrived from France (thanks, Jon).
After our trip to see the Statue of Liberty, we went on to Ellis Island. Unfortunatly, many of the artifacts were not there due to Hurricane Sandy. It was still pretty amazing to look at the Great Hall, imagining the millions of people who moved through the island. A couple of interesting things that I saw when I went through Ellis Island. 1) The misconception that names were Anglicanized when they came to Ellis Island. Our guide, Ed, explained that the changing of names happened where they came from. Another thing I found interesting was that there were professional spotters looking for people who had possible ailments as people walked up the stairs to the Great Hall. Robbie also showed me a pair of columns that had graffiti on them. I posted one of the better ones for you.
Ellis Island is rich with history and individual stories that students could really get into and learn about some struggles that are completely outside their technologically-driven lives. Spending a little time showing them the life of people as they came through the island not only have strong potential close reading lesson ideas, but I also think there are plenty of writing opportunities as well. I could have my writing students do a little research about what it was like to be processed on Ellis Island after a long sea voyage; then, they can write a fictionalized account using the information they found in the research.
Next, we went to Katz's Deli. The one from When Harry Met Sally…you know… “I'll have what she's having.” The pastrami reuben was very good, and I would recommend you give it a try.
We then went on a walking tour of the Lower East Side of Manhattan. I will have toblog aabout this part a little more tomorrow. Take a look at this tenement housing in the picture below and think about what life inside might have been like in the mid-to-late 1800s. I will have to post more tomorrow. It's late, I'm tired, it's going to be hot tomorrow, and we are supposed to be walking even more tomorrow. WooHoo!
Until then… goodnight!