Each student had the opportunity to swipe their own MetroCard and enter the transit, which was a new experience for some of the students who had never rode the PATH train before. On the train ride in we got to know each other and reviewed all the areas we were planning to stop on the tour.
We started off the morning in the historic area of the West Village. Our first stop was at the last remaining court in New York City, Grove Court. We had explained to the students that New York City used to be filled with small courts and homes surrounded the courts. It was interesting to see the students’ reaction when we told them NYC wasn’t all high-rises, but at one point it was a collection of small apartments. The density of the area and how well the streets were maintained amazed the students. Next we began our stroll north along the West Side Highway.
Along our stroll the students were shocked to see numerous people running and exercising. It was a scene many have not encountered. This remained a constant distraction for the students throughout the day because wherever we went there was always someone running. But the pinnacle of our stroll was when a student pointed out that across the river was New Jersey. This was a familiar site for them and more importantly this is when the students were able to formulate how close New York City was to their homes.
After all the walking the students and the excursion leaders began to get hungry, so we made our first of many food stops at a kebab stand. Even though NYC is cluttered with various food carts and food stands, this was the first time many of our students had tried chicken kebabs. It was something different and something they truly enjoyed. We continued our walk through the Meat Packing District and then made our way to Union Square were we had stopped for lunch.
We ate lunch at Dos Toros Taqueria, a Chipotle-style Mexican food restaurant. Again, many of our students never had had the opportunity to eat this style of food, and it was interesting to see them order their own food. Many of them were initially perplexed by the unfamiliar options, but eventually took a leap to try something new. The students found their food to be delicious and are excited to know that a Chipotle will be opening in Newark shortly.
After refueling we made our way to New York University to show them the general area. We continued talks about college and what it means to be college ready. One of the major highlights of the tour was when one of our students was randomly selected from the crowd to participate in a street performer’s act in the middle of Washington Square Park. The students were entertained by their acts jumping over a line of people and flipping over steps.
Shortly after the street performer’s acts we made it to a local ice cream shop to have dessert before we headed back home. Overall, the students enjoyed the trip and were happy to experience a new city that was so close, but completely different from their home.