DNY – Professor Hala
It’s fast approaching that time of year where everyone is bustling about Christmas cheer and busy finding the perfect gifts for their friends and family. To get into the holiday cheer my suitemate and I purchased tickets to the Christmas Spectacular through our St. John’s discount. We had to get to Radio City without anyone else. This would mean we would be travelling without the guidance of someone more familiar with the location like we did normally. I was pleasantly surprised that we were able to use our shared knowledge to get there using public transportation. During the beginning of the year I would feel worried of getting lost and not being able to find my way through the MTA. However, when we went to Radio City I felt more comfortable and at ease travelling using a subway and a bus. That alone is phenomenal for me because I have such a terrible sense of direction. It amazes me that it’s only been one semester and I’m already that much better with the public transportation system.
When we got to our stop, we decided to eat before watching the show because we knew we were going to be hungry and the food there was going to be too expensive. I took my suitemate to eat Halal on 53rd and 6th. I had gone on several previous occasions and believe that everyone should have the chance to enjoy such a meal at least once in their lives.
Upon reaching the actual Radio City venue I was struck with sheer awe as it was my first time ever seeing such a sight. The ceilings were high and there was a giant rotating chandelier in the center of the room. The magnitude of the building was really impressive and only added to the experience of actually watching the Christmas Spectacular. While we were sitting in the third mezone our spots were still appreciable as we were able to get an excellent view of the show. I was really amazed with the lighting and movement of the set pieces along with the actual coordination of the dances. Overall this experience has made my holiday season that much better especially because I have never been to such a spectacle.
DNY – Professor Hala
Native New Yorker
As a native New Yorker, I had never hit many of the typical tourism spots. I have never been to the Empire State Building. I haven’t visited The Statue of Liberty or Ellis Island. I haven’t even been to all of the boroughs of the city. I have noticed that a majority of New York born people have also shared the same experience, which is unusual because the city has so much to offer. Perhaps it could be the fact that the people I hung out with before college were from my home town which is north from here. It was a slight excursion to make the trip into the city as it was never convenient to take a car. Maybe it is the notion of seeming like a tourist that causes people to avoid seeing such spectacular sights. There is a pride that is associated with being part of this generation and a majority of people wouldn’t want to seem like something that they aren’t. While there are some acceptable reasons why I haven’t explored the city in the past, there really isn’t cause for why I shouldn’t be able to now.
I wasn’t far from the city and it was relatively accessible. I only resided 45 minutes upstate, but many of my friends wouldn’t want to dedicate an entire day to making the trip. In order to get to Manhattan, one would need to either take a bus from the mall or drive to the train station in the next town over. After waiting for the train, one would have to take it to Grand Central and from there it was so much easier to just go to Time Square. Considering the trouble and money spent getting into the city we would have to stay there all day to get our money’s worth. We never ventured out anywhere past Canal Street and Time Square as everything else would be out of our comfort zone.
I’m happy that I get the chance to visit all the places and see everything I haven’t been able to in the past. Now all of these locations are within a convenient reach and I can use the time to become more comfortable travelling using public transportation services. In fact just over the course of the first semester I have travelled into Manhattan without relying on anyone to direct me there. For the last couple of times I have been the one that knows the directions of how to get to the planned destination. Being able to travel without the guidance of my parents has helped me mature so much as I am able to make decisions for myself and solve my own problems. Even my terrible sense of direction has improved and I can feel more at ease travelling as I have an internal understanding of where I am. College has been extremely beneficial to me as a human being and I feel as though I’m branching out at a rapid pace.
Attending school at St. Johns University gives me the perfect opportunity to travel into the city while also maintaining a comfortable sense of suburban environment. I love being able to have a campus and have trees and greenery surrounding me. However I also enjoy the convenience of traveling into the city as it only takes one bus ride and a subway. This year, for me, will mark the beginning of my branching out in regards to exploration of my city.
DNY – Professor Hala
Field Observation Report #2
Negotiating Public Space
Public space is always something that is on one’s mind, whether it is a subconscious effort or something that one is thinking about purposefully. This is especially true for instances when one travels into highly packed living areas such as in New York City. Negotiating space can be tricky as there will be a time in one’s venture where there will be little elbow room, such as in a subway train. There can also be a moment where there is much room for each individual to occupy to them self.
On October 21st I went on the Breast Cancer Walk with a team known as PARE which is the universities Filipino Club. The walk was situated in Central Park and had different start times every 10 minutes so that more waves of people could being walking at intervals at a time. This notion of there being intervals suggests that there were a profuse amount of people participating in an event. The walk began with people crowding around the start line all the way towards the stage where music was being played. There was more space for one to move around towards the back of the venue. However the closer one got to the front of the wave of people, the more close set everyone seemed to be. When the team I was with decided it was time to start the walk we moved closer to the front of the pack as more people piled in behind us.
Everyone was excited around us and most people had on smiles so the closeness of the situation wasn’t uncomfortable in a sense where one felt unsafe. Everyone who was at the event was there for the greater good and had purpose to put efforts in helping breast cancer research. There wasn’t an evident malevolent presence in the crowd of people so bumping into people as we started to inch further up was acceptable. Normally when one is in a crowded public area thoughts of paranoia or concern go through ones head. Even if there aren’t paranoid feelings there still would a sense of being more careful and aware of the surroundings. In this case, however, because there was such enthusiasm in the air there wasn’t the same sense of feelings that I would normally receive in a crowded area. Along with this changed feeling of tentativeness to one of excitement, other things that normally would be considered socially unacceptable were the opposite. People that were very dedicated to their participation had their faces painted, while some sported pink wigs. Others expressed their support by wearing outlandish outfits that involved tutus. These choices in clothing and expression are not normally accepted in society. However, because they were donning these specifically in accordance with their participation in the Breast Cancer Walk all of these things were acceptable even to the eye of a stranger or nonparticipant.
The venue and occasion can really change what becomes accepted in regards to behavior and public space. While other locations such as public transportation vehicles can cause apprehension because of the tightly packed conditions, some instances can have the same type of circumstance yet yield different feelings about the space.
DNY – Professor Hala
Field Observation #1
Taking upon the assignment of approaching strangers can be something of daunting task. One may be tentative to ask them anything in accordance with a survey, let alone a question regarding their situation because of the Hurricane. I know that for myself on campus I wasn’t affected a great deal as there was no power outage in my hall. As for my home town and house there was a large lack of power and internet and cable services. My family lost power for a few days while living without cable or internet for a week and a half. I know that there was going to be people that had more precarious situations and even people that were homeless. With this in mind I was slightly nervous to go about asking strangers and having them detail their situation to me.
The first encounter was more difficult than I had originally thought. Many of the people that I aimed on asking were either in a rush or simply didn’t want to answer my question on their situation after the hurricane. This is something understandable as it is questionable as to why a stranger would want to know about one’s home life regarding the post hurricane time frame. This question that I was trying to have answered was something that could be potentially touchy to people that were greatly affected. Considering that New York was hit relatively hard I assumed that there were many who had to deal with damages and loss.
Luckily for me while I was at the Queens Center Mall, a woman who was working at the cash register of Urban Outfitters was friendly enough to answer my question. They were having a slow day or at least weren’t experiencing a lot of traffic in the store at the time that I was in it. I cautiously asked her about how she was affected by the hurricane and explained to her that it was for a school assignment. She understood and was kind enough to offer her story. She had on heavy makeup and urban looking clothing. I didn’t think she looked like the person to converse with me about her situation but I was grateful to her that she did. She lived in Long Island and said that her home experienced a large amount of damage. Her basement was flooded and there was a considerable clutter of foliage around her home. She lived with her parents so she luckily didn’t have to sit through the hurricane alone but she was scared when everything was happening. She told me that she didn’t have power for a week and had to visit a relative who got power back. It was upsetting to hear that her family had to pay for so much damage to their beloved home.
The second person that I was able to get an answer out of was from my home town. It was an elderly woman down the road from where I lived. Her name was Melanie and she was only a few houses down from mine. I had never spoken to her in all the ten years of living on that street. I asked how she had been dealing with the after math caused by the storm. She still had no power when I was speaking with her about her situation, much like how my home didn’t. She still had branches and some of the trees were broken in her front yard. Her home was the smallest and quaintest on the street. It was a miracle that it held up during the storm as she told me of her fear of her home falling apart during the winding and raining that occurred. It was a relief to see that there hadn’t been terrible damage to her house as we live on a highly sloped hill. There was no flooding since most of the water drained down the hill and none of it accumulated.
The final stranger I asked was a male student in the university. His name was Christian and was a friend of one of my roommates. He was on the short side and had a friendly face. He was someone who I could imagine speaking to me about his home situation. Christian lived in New Jersey and his home town was heavily affected by Sandy as he lived along the coast line. As soon as he could he visited home so he could help out his neighborhood clean up and rebuild. He needed to clean up the immense amount of branches and random clutter that filled his streets. His home had been flooded and his basement had severe water damage. I felt bad for him as he was so open with me regardless of the fact that I had just met him.
This experience has taught me to be thankful for my good graces as I was able to survive the hurricane with minimal afflictions. Realistically even my home wasn’t terribly affected so I really have a lot to be thankful for. There are so many more people that were left in shambles for homes and I can’t take for granted my good fortunes.
DNY – Professor Hala
As required by St. John’s University, one needs to achieve a total of six hours of community service. The assignments intentions are to foster a more cognizant attitude about the ones in need, especially those relatively close to the school. I was interested in assisting a food pantry so I called the Kehilat Sephardim of Ahavat Achim to serve in helping those in need of sustenance. I knew that the need for such services was going to be more urgent as many were living in more distressed conditions due to situation imposed by Hurricane Sandy.
My expectations coming in were influenced by friends that had already served in that service location. They had told me about the immense amount of carrots that they had to package and how the supply never seemed to end. Their account made me feel as though the service was going to be tedious and uninteresting. I was initially worried that the experience was going to be something that I had to drudge myself through. I was also informed about the location of the work I was to be doing. The actual packaging took place in a garage type shed in the back of the building so I wasn’t exactly thrilled about the actual work that the location was going to assign.
However, upon reaching the work site I was greeted by a cozy living room and a semi-friendly who was working the desk and assigning me work to do. The shed-garage type room where I was packaging the vegetables wasn’t as hellish as my friends had described. By the second hour I had even found it to be a pleasant environment to work in. I spent the time packaging carrots into plastic bags from larger mesh sacks. After I was done with the carrots I was instructed to package the potatoes in a similar fashion and organize them. During the experience a woman approached the shed door and was asking for food. Much to my dissatisfaction I couldn’t assist her immediate needs due to the fact that I was instructed against doing so. The woman at the desk told me not to dole out any of the produce regardless of whoever came to ask for food as the institution had designated times and days where they gave out food.
I was working toward the end of the week I didn’t have as much work to do in regards to the vegetable packaging. I was later moved indoors and had to clean the living room walls and kitchen. I also replaced books in a bookshelf after dusting off the area. I then needed to serve the people there with assorted kosher foods that I was given to distribute. This part of the service didn’t seem beneficial to those in need and seemed like an activity that I needed to do because they lacked the need for my services outside. I spent the rest of my time doing menial chores inside. While I begrudgingly finished I was relieved to have all of the hours completed.
I realized towards the end of the work time that the purpose of the service wasn’t to comfort me during the day but to assist those who have a need for the things that I take for granted. I appreciated the service that required me to package various vegetables but I didn’t find the chores inside to be helping those in need of a food pantry. Overall I was happy to be able to provide some sort of help for those who had no food or had little to provide for themselves and their family.
DNY – Professor Hala
Upon arrival to 5 Pointz, the group I came with noticed the immense amount of graffiti on the walls of the buildings that we passed by. We had just gotten off the highway after a fellow student drove us to the location. We had missed the rest of the class as they had left ahead of us through public transportation. As strangers we had bonded to a certain degree based on our shared predicament. Already, the experience of the field trip had become somewhat interesting aside from the inconvenience of finding an alternative mode of transportation.
My initial reaction to the pieces was one of awe and wonder as I had never seen that much of that form of art in one place. To further my amazement I saw that the graffiti wasn’t illegal in the area and that the 5 Pointz location was designated to the expression of these works of art. I was pleasantly surprised that graffiti wasn’t seen as a form of deviance there, but as art. I have always enjoyed examining pieces of art and different techniques that are used to produce such a work. I’m not an expert on any kind of art but as an untrained eye I can still find something to appreciate in observing and seeking a meaning in the piece.
As we approached the rest of the class we all followed a rugged looking man as he led us to an alcove of walls. There we were able to view a vast majority of styles and subject matters in the pieces. He was currently working on a piece that was going to be three dimensional after completion. The subject of his work was a boy sitting in his room with a bowl and spoon. The work cascaded from the layers of wall to the ground where onlookers could become a part of the work and stand on the spoon. From a certain angle someone observing can see that the participant is fused with the art piece. I found this extremely impressive as the artist had to take into account the different angles and surfaces that he was working with.
The tour guide also educated us to an extent about how styles differed from coast to coast. While the East Coast incorporates edgier and jagged lines, the West Coast uses smoother lines with more flow. It was also interesting to see different kinds of techniques that artists used to compose their pieces. Some artists used the traditional methods of aerosol cans solely. Others utilized a variety of media tools such as brushes to add more detail and hard lines. There were some works that looked like spray paint wasn’t used to compose them. Others were made using techniques such as pointillism or stenciling. These are unconventional in the respect that they aren’t typically associated with graffiti.
As a whole, I thoroughly enjoyed the field trip and saw it as an enriching experience. I was able to open my mind up to different kinds of art work and became more informed on the art of graffiti. Although I am not an expert on anything that we were able to view, I still think that it was beneficial to expose myself to something that I didn’t have that much background knowledge on.