Day 1

I woke up feeling kind of crummy and anxious about starting a whole new chapter in life, even though I am very excited. After dragging my luggage through the subway to Greenpoint, Brooklyn, I met the other students in my cohort while we checked in to the YMCA for our stay. Even though I am from NYC, I’ve never lived in Brooklyn and I never really took the time out to explore the borough next to mine. I’m definitely happy to spend the first two weeks of this program in my hometown and to get to know it even better.

It is very fitting that we started our program on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Despite all the controversies surrounding his life and career, there is much to learn from Dr. King. We listened to and reflected on Dr. King’s speech in 1967 on why he opposed the Vietnam War. Basically, we don’t pay enough attention to problems here in America and to divert attention and resources to killing people and problems elsewhere is very problematic.

One of our team building activities required each of us to replicate a small puzzle piece on a larger piece of paper and then assembling the larger pieces together. After assembling the smaller puzzle pieces first, we realized it was an image of a dove of peace. This symbol has great meaning and encouraged me to think more deeply about what peace means and looking ahead, what peace looks like in various contexts.

Maybe later I will upload the picture of our larger puzzle when it was finished. Just a warning though, it didn’t look very pretty since we drew our pieces very differently from each other. It is beautiful in our eyes though.

Lastly, one of our faculty/directors encouraged us to find a MLK quote that we like. Here is one I’ve always liked:
The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.
I think this applies not only individually but also in our relationships with one another. When things are going well it is easy to be friendly and have positive interactions, but it also takes things going wrong to see how someone is really like and how that impacts your relationship with them. As I go into this journey abroad, I also expect to find myself and my peers in “times of challenge and controversy,” so it will be interesting to see where we stand then and what that may say about us.

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