Arriving in the Big Apple
This past Saturday, I took the Megabus from Boston's South Station to New York City (and left my trusty Smart car companion in MA). New England and this part of the East Coast is interesting in that despite me growing up in the greater Boston area, I have been to NYC only a handful of times -- maybe 5 or so -- in my entire life. (And not for extended periods of time, either.) Despite Boston, DC, NYC, and Philly being relatively close together, each of these cities really is completely separate and in another world in and of itself.
(Check out this super interesting article by the Washington Post, Which of the 11 American nations do you live in? for more of what I mean.)
The 5 or so times I've been to NYC, I've truthfully always felt a little overwhelmed -- something that generally speaking is a high threshold for me to reach. There is that frenetic buzz to NYC that immediately upon arrival calls upon a person to well, hustle and bustle. (As evidenced by the not-so-happy NYC subway employee when I accidentally used the wrong turnstile the other day -- oops.)
When I arrived in the middle of Midtown Manhattan on Saturday, I took the 6 train uptown to the South Bronx off E. 138th Street -- the location of the community services I will be living and working at for the next couple months: The Grail.
I'll be running an ad hoc immigration legal clinic from there as well as doing pro bono work with a couple other legal services orgs throughout NYC this summer/fall.
And I can't wait to continue to dig in. For example: yesterday, I spoke with a local union president about running an immigration clinic for some of his members within the next week or two -- I look forward to being able to tell you how it will all go!
One out of 8.4 million
New York City is easily one of the most diverse cities in the country. Walking down the street at any given time, one is sure to hear a number of different languages being spoken, a variety of food offered in stores lining the streets -- it is one of the many things that makes NYC great.
And there are 8.4 million residents here. I think back to my days living in some of the more rural and remote parts of this country -- like living in a town of about 1000 in Cut Bank, Montana -- or living on the Navajo Nation where there is hardly any urban infrastructure.
Over the course of my time so far in NYC, I've been thinking a lot about what a friend/former law school classmate said to me when I ran into her in Bakersfield, California about a year ago:
"Wherever you go; there you are."
Those words have been resonating with me strongly over the last few days. I could be in a town of 1000 or in a city of 8.4 million -- and there I will be. I try to remain centered in this consistent truth with myself. My sense of self, values, and who I am in general will be a constant in ever-changing environments.
It's a good truth to gently remind myself of, as things in NYC can be a 'lil hectic (I'm already starting to get used to it, though). And a plus side of this constant pulse is that I feel even more of a sense of urgency (if it was possible) with the work I am doing. Things to do and see! Onward and forward!
A city rich in immigrant history
New York City has also long been seen as America's immigrant capital (as aptly described in this article from The Nation).
I am very grateful to be living and working in an area that has multiple organizations and other resources dedicated to immigrant justice and look forward to sharing these key learnings with you all in the near future.
And if you know of any like-minded spirits in the NYC area I should connect with, I'd be very grateful for the intro!
Hope to see you in NYC, or elsewhere, very, very soon.