Saturday, September 19, 2015

Why Travel and Why Write about It?

I find that travel blogs are the easiest for me to write. Perhaps that is because, since my retirement, I have spent many months away from home. Whether studying in Paris, visiting relatives in the Shetland Islands or volunteering in Oaxaca, travel has been my teacher. I find that the world can be my personal school room and that there is so much that I do not know.


a schoolyard surrounded by art

This week, I am in New York City, celebrating my daughter's 40th birthday.  The best laid plans went out the window when a series of unfortunate (???) events took us from the stylish apartment that I had booked to a clean but cozy (we eat sitting on the bed) hotel room in Brooklyn.

I have discovered that 20% of the inhabitants of Brooklyn are Hispanic (mostly Mexican, Dominican, Puerto Rican and Ecuadorian). PS 24 in Sunset Park,  my nearest elementary school, has 91% Spanish-speaking students and has developed a dual-track English/Spanish programme where about half of the student population is taught in both languages each day. English classes are held in the school for parents and Pre-Kindergarten is available. The teacher/pupil ratio is 1:12. Ninety-six percent of the students are eligible for free or subsidized lunch.

Welcome!

I was attracted to this school by the series of murals that decorate the wall surrounding it. The murals were created by The Groundswell Community Art Project. They depict the ethnic origins of the students (Black, Muslim and Chinese as well as Hispanic), the arts, music, sports and learning activities, community connections and some commentary on migration. I drive my daughter a little crazy each time we pass the school on the way to the subway. I have to look and photograph.

I live in a district where more than 60% of the population speaks a language other than English at home. Contrary to the Sunset Park, Brooklyn model, our immigrants are better-off financially than their Canadian-born neighbours. Large newly-built homes, which are often vacant, block the sunlight of the modest bungalows of long-time residents. Canada, by choosing immigrants based on a strictly financial basis, has created a situation that is problematic and seems to be without a solution.

Who should be the gatekeepers?
We are all the descendants of immigrants who chose to look for a better life. We are the children of younger sons who had no land to inherit, those who saw little opportunity in the homeland and those who needed a "fresh start".  With this in mind, we should willingly extend our hospitality to others, especially those in need.

Travel helps me to think about home in a different way. It is much more for me than what I wore (not very interesting this trip) or what I ate (really tasty choices but probably not great for the blood pressure).

Today, we will take a ferry from Battery Park to visit Ellis Island and the Museum of Immigration.
But first, we get to walk to the subway yet another time!

1 comment:

  1. I admire the way you really engage it's the community in the places you visit. So glad that you and your daughter are enjoying the visit, despite the nuisance of the added travel time.

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