Author Archives: asiawest2016


Bravery is defined as courageous behavior or character. According to Brene Brown, she believes that acts of courage are performed from vulnerability rather than bravery. After listening to her podcast, Vulnerability on American Public Media, I thoughts of acts of bravery that I have witnessed. I realized that I have experienced an act of courage first hand when someone came to my defense.

Earlier in the year, I witnessed an act of courage and bravery. After coming from school, a few friends and myself decided to go into the city. We got on the bus and headed towards downtown Philadelphia. However, after a few stops a man who looked to be mentally unstable got on the bus.  Paying him not attention, I continued to talk to my friends and listen to music on my iPod. The man then proceeded towards me and attempted to hit me in the face. Before he could get close enough to my face, another male passenger on the bus jumped up and pushed him away. He then proceeded to push him off the bus.

While this was a scary situation for me, it was one of the first acts of bravery that I experienced first hand. I believe that this was in act of courage that was also influenced by vulnerability. The male passenger on the bus almost felt somewhat obligated to help me and what amazed me even more was that he was not the only male passenger to come to my defense during that situation.  In fact many people jumped to move the man away from me. This situation really goes to show that people do still perform acts of kindness and their vulnerability assists them in performing acts of courage. When I think of what the outcome of that situation could have been, I am very thankful for the male passenger that took a risk in order to protect me.

Acts of bravery are not heard of daily. Now a days, people are less likely to act of impulse and risk themselves for someone else. Often times their vulnerability assists in these courageous acts forcing them to step out of their comfort zone. The act of bravery I experienced really was an eye opener. It made me question whether I would do what was done for me for someone else.



Negotiating Public Space

The decided to observe the subway system and the social norms that take place during the daily commute.  Surprisingly enough, the subway is filled with various societal norms.

After being in New York for 3 months now, I have noticed that the subway is not only used as a method of getting from point A to point B, but it truly plays a big part in the continued movement of the city. Since August, I have taken the subway at least a dozen times and each time the subway cars have been filled to capacity with mobs of people. Amazingly enough, it seems almost normal for those who reside in New York to adapt to the large mass of people, while I on the other hand was initially shocked at the crowdedness of the subway. It is not particularly unusual to be packed like sardines on a subway car to get to your destination, especially during rush hour. I have found it to be uncomfortable, as I do not necessarily want to feel like I am grinding on the person behind me on the subway (awkward!). However, I have noticed that those around me who are use to these conditions are seemingly comfortable. I have witnessed people reading books and newspapers while standing, as if there is not a complete stranger standing directly next to them.

While there is a always a constant flow of traffic on the subway, I have also been able to note the amount of diversity that I see while travelling. The subway is not only crowded, but it is crowded with a diverse group of people that come from different backgrounds. Seeing these different cultures on the subway, really sheds light on the idea of New York being a “melting pot”. There is no one group of people in each car and I find it particularly interesting that those riding the subway only know how to get to their destination.  Because of this, asking for help is usually pointless.

Lastly, there is a great deal of entertainment that can usually be seen while riding the subway. I have noticed that there are people who perform little skits on each car to get some spare change. Below is a video I recorded while on the train. Check it out!

5 Pointz


On Wednesday, October 24th, 2012, I had the opportunity to experience the real essence of graffiti art with my Discover New York class. We went on an excursion to Long Island City, NY to observe graffiti at a location known as 5 Pointz. Because I am not a native New Yorker, I was unsure as to what I would have the opportunity to observe. However, after seeing for myself I can honestly say 5 Pointz is a work of art, literally. The graffiti I observed had various meanings and a sense of individuality. From different  symbols to represent the artist, to celebrity graffiti pieces, 5 pointz allows artist from all over to express themselves freely through art. While there I learned that the graffiti on the walls are updated yearly at times due to the conditions of the weather and various celebrities check out 5 pointz when in New York such as Usher and Bruno Mars. There were many pieces that stood out to me during my visit, however three in particular are my favorites. 

The First: Notorious B.I.G. 


When I think of the Hip Hop culture of New York, Biggie is one of the greatest icons. I thought having a mural of him on the wall was only fitting and was placed in a great spot for subway observers to view as they ride past. 

The Second: Random Guy 



While at 5 Pointz we also were able to observe the piece above. This piece is particularly interesting because the artist took a picture of a random guy on the subway and decided to create graffiti art from it. Also, if you look into the eyes of the guy you can see that his pupils are shaped like hearts. The heart shape is a representation of the artist and in some ways allows the artist to leave his mark on the piece. 

The Third: Y U NO LOVE ME! 


I enjoyed this piece because I thought it was creative, and hilarious. There were numerous pieces like this throughout 5 Pointz that had a sense of individuality. 

Overall, the trip to 5 Pointz was a rewarding experience that allowed me to see a big part of New York history. The art that’s on display is some of the best pieces of art I observed thus far. I would definitely recommend 5 Pointz to those visiting New York as it is something you wouldn’t want to miss out on. 

Ellis Island Trip!




On October 6th, 2012, myself and those in my Discover New York class took a trip to the Ellis Island Immigration Museum. Being a native of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, this was my first time experiencing Ellis Island and I was excited to dive into the history of New York immigration. After spending much of the day observing Ellis Island, I soon realized that it not only entails New York immigration, but American Immigration as whole, and revealed historical information through different exhibits such as the American Immigrant Wall of Honor, and the American Family Immigration History Center.  Although I personally couldn’t find my surname on the American Immigrant Wall of Honor, the experience as a whole was truly beneficial and one that I’ll remember for years to come.

Before arriving at Ellis Island, the boat ride alone was a rewarding experience. Seeing the Statue of Liberty for the first time was indescribable and really captures the essence of New York as whole. For those like myself who are out of state students, capturing that moment was worthwhile. Moving forward, Ellis Island itself contains great information and exhibits of the 12 million immigrants who entered into America. One highlight of the museum that particularly stood out to me was the Treasures from Home Exhibit.

The Treasures from Home Exhibit contains cherished belongs that Immigrants carried with them from the old country to the new country. The descendants of these immigrants donated many of these artifacts to the National Park Service. I discovered that most of the immigrants came to America and remained in touch with their spiritual life. The exhibit displayed many items such as rosaries, bibles, and photos that reflected a variety of religious customs and celebrations. In addition to spiritual artifacts, they also brought over personal papers that contained family documented history, birth and marriage certificates and military papers. Clothing and Ornaments were also popular amongst cherished items brought from the homeland. Many who passed through Ellis Island wore the handmade patterned clothes displayed.

Another part of the museum that interests me was the Dormitory Room. This exhibited depicted a replica of the dormitory style of living that the immigrants endured. Each of the dorms consisted of two long rooms that normally contained about 300 immigrants. Each slept on a triple tiered bunk bed, which could also convert into a daytime waiting area. The mattresses in which they slept were wired mesh and the overall living conditions seemed very confined.

Those two exhibits were just a couple of many that were really interesting. While I personally didn’t have any historical family history in the Ellis Island Immigration Museum, the experience was amazing and really made me want to dive deeper into my own background and discover more about my history.