Before leaving my home in New Mexico, I tried to imagine what life would be once I began living and working in New York City. A blank canvas of the unknown stared back at me. When I told people about my plans to live in Queens and volunteer in the South Bronx, my news was often met with looks of concern and questions as to why I would want to do such a thing. I had no personal experience of the East Coast to use to color in my expectations of the future, and anxiety built as I faced my own ignorance about what was to come; however, after spending only a little over a month in the city, New York has revealed itself as a masterpiece that must be experiences in person.
When I reflect back on my time here it is hard, impossible really, for me to pick out one story to share with you. Should I tell you about the Puerto Rican woman who sells fresh alcapurrias from a shopping cart on 3rd Ave? Should I tell you about the parade of folks who pass through the subway offering a song, a story, a DVD, a dance, or a candy bar in exchange for whatever change you can spare? Should I tell you about the vibrant Indian Independence Day Parade we happened upon one Sunday morning? Should I tell you about getting caught in the rain and picnicking under a gazebo we shared with a large family playing Latin dance music from a boom box? Should I tell you about getting goose bumps at a Saturday night poetry reading? Should I tell you about getting goose bumps at Mercy Center’s new staff orientation as my supervisors shared how they are nurturing the spirit of Mercy in the Bronx? Or perhaps about getting to know the history of the Bronx as we passed out thousands of program flyers around the neighborhood, letting people know what Mercy Center has to offer?
So many recent experiences have helped create a thrilling introduction of New York, and it is only just the beginning. I am very excited to continue discovering all that the city has to offer, and I am honored to have the opportunity to make a positive contribution to such a fascinating place. Never before have I been surrounded by so much possibility, culture, and inspiration.
Elizabeth Bennett - Mercy Center - Bronx, NY