Saturday, July 4, 2009

Long Beach and Fireworks

Today, my day started around seven o'clock. I got ready really quick to meet my suite mates by the gazebo so we could go to the beach before watching the fireworks at night. This was the first time I would be interacting with most of my suite for most of the day. We left the campus around 8 o'clock and walked to the nearest subway station. We took the express to Penn Station and we arrived at 8:43, so we just missed the 8:45 train. We waited about an hour and just bought our round trip tickets, a beach pass, and some breakfast. As soon as the train was ready to be boarded, people literally ran down the stairs to the track. The train ride was pretty comfortable and was about an hour long. It reminded me about a more comfortable subway since there were stops.

Once we got off, it was a short walk to Long Beach. The sand was fine and soft without dirty. For awhile, I just took pictures and enjoyed the wonderful weather (lots of sun and breeze) and then Sophia, Jessica, and I decided to dip our feet into the water.

It was such a nice day to be outside. After, we got lunch with my suite, and I got to know one of my suite mates, Arielle, better. She said that she goes to a public school and she lives in Long Island. After, we went back to the beach and I decided to go to the bathroom, but the line was incredibly long (I would say about 40 people). Afterwards, we just plopped down on the sand for about half an hour more and decided to go back home around 3:30. I fell asleep on the train ride (the seats are really comfy).

We took the subway back to Columbia, and I realized that I could actually stand on the subway without falling all over the place. I think I am becoming very accustomed to this integral part of the city. We took a two hour break after we decided that we would get dinner together as a suite, then watch the fireworks.

We walked around Broadway looking for a restaurant to eat because all of us didn't know what we wanted. We passed by a Amir's, a Lebanese restaurant, and my suite mate Nour convinced us to eat there, as she is from Lebanon (she promised that she would pay for all our food if we didn't like it). Dinner was delicious and we had really good conversation. I was talking to my other suite mate, Marina, and she told me that although she if from Brazil, she visits Miami often. She said that she goes to a private British school there because the public schools are mostly for the homeless. This got me thinking that the although the US schooling system has it's flaws, at least everyone has the chance to go to school.

Afterward, we walked back to out housing building for a quick bathroom break and walked onward toward Riverside Park. At first, we could not see the fireworks, but we could hear them. We hopped over a tiny fence (my foot got stuck in a hole) and walked to the edge of a highway. The fireworks were spectacular, but I could not get any decent pictures of them because the cars' headlights kept getting in the way. During the show, Nour was explaining how she says that she is from Lebanon because both her parents are Lebanese although she hasn't lived there. She explained that she lived in a one of the seven cities of the United Arab Emirates, but says she lives in Dubai because everyone has heard of that city. I was amazed that I didn't know anything about Middle Eastern geography and there was a whole side of the world waiting for me to learn about. I really enjoyed talking to my suite mates more and I hope to do it again soon!


Don Gosney said...


I’m surprised at what I’m reading here. It sounds as though that even though you’ve been there a week now you’re only just beginning to talk to your suitemates? You’re just learning where they’re from and a little of their background.

Part of this whole experience is getting to know the people in your classes and the people you’re living with. In many instances you forge bonds that last for years because of your shared experiences.

I hope you’ll take advantage of the time you have left to get to know each other a lot better.

There’s something a little goofy about about Nour’s explanation of her heritage. Her parents may be from Lebanon but if she’s never actually been there can she honestly call herself Lebanese?

My little sister was once convinced that she was an Okie. My father buffaloed her into believing that by giving her an analogy. He asked her if a full blooded Chinese man and a full blooded Chinese woman were to have a child, wouldn’t that child be a full blooded Chinese child? He then told her that her mother was a full blooded Okie and that he was a full blooded Okie so wouldn’t that make her a full blooded Okie? Even though she had never been outside of California she believed for many years that she was an Okie, too.

There’s nothing wrong with clinging to your heritage but will there ever become a time when she accepts that perhaps she’s Lebanese in name only?

We see that a lot in our own school district where schoolchildren almost refuse to accept that they are not in the country of their parent’s birth and that while they may hold dual citizenship, they’re also Americans.

Charles Tillman Ramsey said...

Nice post. I enjoyed reading it. From what I am reading it is clear that you are coming out of your comfort zone and learning about your suitemates. I do find it interesting that this year all of you are having more interaction with foreign born students. Last year we did not get these type of posts.

One thing Cristina that I want you to probe in greater detail is why they attend those private schools. Why those particular schools? Do they have strong curriculum and great extracurriculars? How does it compare to Pinole Valley High School? What have you learned about yourself.

I see that you have become more confident. This is good. Do you see yourself applying to an Ivy League School or one that is highly selective? Take me through your thought process.

Take care.

Charles T. Ramsey, Esq.
School Board Member
West Contra Costa
Unified School District

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