Well you heard that I was going to New York and I went – Feb 15, returning Feb. 21.I hardly know where to begin. There will be a number of posts over the next while because there is much that I want to share.
This morning my whole house smells of wonderful New York bagels as I brought home a baker’s dozen from Murray’s in Chelsea. One suitcase and the contents are being aired out so that the New York bagel smell won’t go on my next trip. Creating this post will be accompanied by munching an “everything” bagel and enjoying a cup of tea from leaves that I brought home from a shop in the Chelsea market called spices and tease. My tea of choice today is Ginger Lemon Green as I also brought home a doozie of a chest cold.
Today’s post will begin with an overview while subsequent posts will focus on specific components of the trip: jazz, theatre, classical music, opera, food, textiles, museums, and personal experiences of iconic sights. Don’t know if that is an exhaustive list but it will serve as organizer to me and perhaps anticipation for you.
Was there a highlight? Every moment was one to stimulate the senses and because of the richness one could only be in the moment. This was accompanied by wonderful conversations with the other members of the tour, at breakfast especially and while waiting for trains and buses and of course at intermission’s and dinner. Photos – not as many as I would have liked, just too cold some days to get out the camera, but there will be some. The wicked cold and wind chill of one of New York’s coldest winters however couldn’t distract from the sensory delights. Come on! We are Albertans.
The beginning – Several years ago I learned that Grant MacEwan Community College (now MacEwan University). sponsored a tour to New York. This year it came to fruition for me and a long time friend. Good thing too, as this is the last year that MacEwan will do this. I can hear friends scoffing when they read the word tour, however for those of you who are still with me read on. This is a tour conceived by people who understand the concepts of adult community education. Part guided, part discovery. (Pause to savour a couple of bites of the best bagel this side of heaven.) The superb organizer – Brenda Philp, in her Community Education role, one of several she holds at MacEwan U arranged the air and ground transportation and the lodgings at Leo House. That is always a relief to have that taken care of and saves time for individuals. This freed the travellers to do their own research on the actual activities. An important component was the collective experience that each learner brought to the project and that included Brenda’s experiences in having led this tour for over 20 years now. Brenda had another guide: Ron Long of both Theatre Arts & Conservatory of Music at MacEwan U. I really appreciate this opportunity, it was a superb adult learning project. To digress – with my adult educator hat on, let me explain that many adults organize their (non-credit) learning through a project approach New York had long been on my list of experiences that I wanted to include in my life so imagine my excitement.
There was a lot of pressure on me because I wanted to see and do everything. No small goal for New York. So with my research the pressure continued to build. The tour participants met for an orientation and then communicated by e-mails. I had reached the wall of overwhelm with my planning. Now I gave myself up to the experiences that would come as a result of being open to what each person would bring to the trip. Ideas for what to see and where to go evolved based on each person’s experience with knowledge and input from Brenda and Ron. I ended up with a much richer curriculum than I could have ever set for myself on my own. I found that many of the things that fellow travellers were wanting to do were of great interest to me. This trip turned out to be a survey course of New York for me. While some of the participants focused in on very particular elements I mainly chose one experience from different areas of interest. So yes, I just scratched the surface of New York but gained so much that I know that I must spend more time there.
The experience was organized to provide guided support for things individuals wanted to to for the first couple of days with orientation to the subway system, maps etc. The learning was just in time and contextual. By day three we were beginning to spread our wings and take little risks in venturing out on our own. Getting there advice was always provided when we asked. Sister Katherine of Leo House would provide ideas every morning and was a wealth of information about what do do and see that likely only New Yorkers would know and it was timely, i.e. last week was Fashion Week in NY. Once I started to study the maps and try and figure out things on my own I quickly realized that a feature of New York addresses is that you will learn either the St. or the Avenue (pronounced Aven-nu, think Barbara Streisand). I expect that before next time I will need to consult Brenda for some detail on how to figure out what is missing in the address.
New York, a remarkable experience. I certainly could see how this experience is an excellent one for the MacEwan students to explore their specific interests in theatre and music. I wish that all Theatre Arts and Conservatory students could benefit from this enriching experience. So here’s to Brenda, Ron, Jamie, Bev, Karyn, Kirsten, Sara, Joel and Kaden. Thanks to each of you for the learnings and in making this a memorable experience.
I realize that I could write a book about the way New York walks, whispers and looks. It’s no secret to say I love New York a lot. (Apologies to Lorenz Hart.)