No Sadness: Week of Return

As I sit here in my big comfortable computer chair, I ponder on numerous subjects. I am thinking about the trip, my family, and my future. I am having one of those moments of solitude. Tomorrow will be exactly a week since we departed from New York. I sincerely miss not only the city, but as Courtney referred to us, my family.

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It is quite difficult yet obvious how to conclude the trip. It is almost as if I do not want to because I feel like once I publish this, I am officially home. It is one thing to simply be in the area, but it is another to accept the fact that we are no longer together in New York, waiting for another adventure.

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I never want to forget the experiences and family who made this journey so unique and fulfilling. You do not realize how big of an impact everyone makes until a few days later when you remember each and every personality and memory. I am extremely excited to have documented this so far through a blog because our minds simply do no justice to written words.

As depressing and sad as I would have liked to be, it seems as though I let those emotions out in the last few blog posts. I want to focus on the good times and never forget the excitable experiences each of us have had. I am exceptionally fortunate to have met the individuals I met during the journey. I loved the get togethers and simple family bonds. One of the greatest moments was walking into Jenna, Marina, Keeyoung, and Lindsay’s room and dragging them out and down to mine. Brittany and Cami were already in there. I had 4 take out boxes of food saved from the dining hall because I did not use all of my meals. We had a miniature party and we ate tons of delicious cookies.

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As I pondered on these small but meaningful memories, I can’t help but thank Courtney and Rylan for serving as such amazing professors. I really cannot thank them enough for the tremendous experience I undertook. So, to close on a high note, I will forever LOVE New York and my New York family!

Much Love,
Nathan Wingate

P.S. I am a lucky man, if you know what I mean. I was fortunate enough to meet some exceptionally beautiful people. This first week back is a new beginning for a hopeful and bright future 🙂

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The last Postcript…

My body is in Columbus now, but it seems that some of my minds are still remaining in New York City. I’ve got enough rest and got back to my dorm yesterday. Now, it is time to gather my floating thoughts arranging my memories in NY.

At the beginning of the trip, I became depressed when I was having my own difficulties. Moreover, my one-disabled arm was not helpful in the situation at all.

But fortunately, I met nice roommates, nice professors and nice friends. This helped me a lot, lowering my worries and psychological burdens.

Looking around amazing museums, dancing with the rhythms of Harlem Shake, watching funny dancing movements of friends, taking lots of photos of landscapes and people in New York, classes in the park, attending various events… Every experience remained to me as a beautiful and unforgettable memory.

Sometimes I caused troubles, bringing worries to professors and classmates. However, professors had never scolded me, listened to my clumsy explanations, taught me different things, wrote encouraging commentaries on my blog post.

Writing blog-post was one of the most challenging works to me while I was in New York. I remember that I became so worried when I heard that the blog post would be opened to everyone. However, thanks to this openness, I could see how people can think differently and write differently even though we shared same experience. I was surprised to see Lindsay’s honest thoughts and creative sentences. Nathan’s witty post and interesting story always made smile. Professor’s post demands high level of contemplations and brings inspiration, enabling us to broaden our perspectives.

Come to think of it, I’m never used to writing about my personal matters. I stopped writing about myself after I stopped writing diary when I was in middle school. But while in New York, I could write about whatever I want. This freedom of write gave me difficulty at first time because I was habituated to write papers and essays according to the given subjects. Even though this post is also relevant to the grade, this blog posting is completely new to me.

Then why did I stop write about me and my experience?  Not only me but most people seems to write less and less because we tend to spend more time to the media such as facebook or twitter which makes us easy to forget about writing ‘real’ stories or reading books.

I also became thinking about Arts education in South Korea through this program. I remember that teachers in high school sneakily (because it was illegal) erased music, art and physical education classes out of schedule and taught math and English instead. Music and art grade didn’t reflect in Korean SAT so we studied other subjects in art classes. This was ridiculous, but we didn’t even know that this was wrong.  I realize how art makes people’s life affluent and how sad my high school years were. Through the arts program in New York, I could feel, see and hear every aspect of arts and literature. Arts education must not be underestimated at all!

Saying good-bye is always sad and aching experience. 3 weeks in NY taught me so much things more than academic achievements. I thank you for everything and also be grateful to my parents who supported me to have this opportunity.

My arm gets much better than 3 weeks ago showing the passage of time. Soon, I expect it to be completely healed..

However, I believe that this memory in my mind will last forever. I’ll miss everything so much!

 

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The first & last photo that I took in NY

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Memory of literary tour

I had attended literary tour as the last tour before leaving New York. The day was raining and quite chilly. This time, Professor George specially guided us to the past tracks of writers stayed in New York.

First, It was surprising that so many important writers had lived very close to our residence and I didn’t even notice it for almost 3 weeks. Just within 30 minutes we started to walk circling around the Washington Square Park, we encountered several significant writers’ temporary place of residence. We did not need to take public transportation for the whole tour. I realized again that we had lived in a historical place.. and I became more grateful for that.

I was so glad to hear many famous writers whom professor mentioned during the tour. Some of the writers wrote the story that I’d like to read during the childhood. Some of the writers were whom I haven’t heard or could not remember. Professor kindly explained every places and writers and cited some of their works. The tour reminds me of the movie ‘midnight in Paris’; It was a journey following the traces of historical writers and their works. Every time we went to the different places and heard explanations, I could imagine the writers walking around the road, drinking bears in the pub and designing their stories in their home…. The tour was the grand finale marking the end of the literature class in New York.

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At the lunchtime, professor treated lunch to us at the pub where Dylan Thomas used to make a visit. Inside the pub, there was a portrait of Dylan and a small sign giving short information of Dylan. Even if I was sorry that professor couldn’t fully enjoy the food, the lunchtime with Lindsay, Nathan and professor was so valuable and special. We had fun having conversation, talking about our pets, laughing and taking photos. Professor talked to us without difficulty, making a comfortable atmosphere. I’ve never had a free, close conversation with professors before, so it meant a lot to me.  Nathan and Lindsay also cheerfully made conversations. I was so grateful for that, feeling warm-hearted. I can still remember the feelings that I’ve got from the little journey, conversations that we shared and the sunshine which came through the window of the pub that day.

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On Returning Home and Missing My Family

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We took so many group photos, it was kind of hard to choose one. But here’s the family in Brooklyn Heights.

So, I can’t say this better than Lindsay, but writing a last post is difficult. And this time, perhaps thankfully, I didn’t have a 36-hour train ride home for meditation. Instead, I’ve taken these last two days in Georgia to tune out and think about what this CSU NY Arts Immersion trip has meant to me. Back at home, I found myself sort of immediately bored without somewhere to walk on Saturday evening and then sort of immediately maladjusted to the truly “free” Sunday that I had without a trip or meeting scheduled—without the buzz and hum of the city in the background. So, I do miss the city with all of its stimulation, all that it offers. But, of course, I’m going to talk about “family” for my last post…because, like the last trip taught me, it’s about the people that accompany you on a trip as much as the place you travel to.

From the beginning, this group referred to us as a “family” and insisted that we take a group photo for nearly every outing. This was quite a contrast to our last group in 2012, who ditched us as often as they could to go out exploring. While that group was interested in discovering the city on their own, this group wanted to experience it together, which meant a certain kind of openness to just about any event that was planned. They put serious trust in their professors to show them the city, and then they could reflect for themselves. For instance, when I suggested a theatrical reading of Russian literature at Joe’s Pub, almost everyone came along—and even though we were all lost because we hadn’t read Nabokov’s Pale Fire, this group made the best of it. They used humor to get through it, seeing who could laugh the loudest at a show that none of us could really understand. It might have been a dreadful event, but this family made it memorable anyway.

From what I could tell, when this group was disappointed with something, they talked through it. This, again, suggests an openness. Instead of a quick dismissal—an “I hated that”—they talked amongst themselves and then with us about what left them curious, questioning, or uncomfortable. For instance, after a visit to the MoMA, Rylan and I discussed postmodern art with one of my English students, which led to an interesting debate about works like those of Jackson Pollock and the significance of visual art as political and meaningful versus that same significance in literature. After our tour in Harlem, many students felt uncomfortable that our tour guide took us into the housing projects; they discussed this together and then with me a little, which led to some of the most honest conversations about race and class that I’ve ever had. Another instance: one art student pulled me aside at the International Center for Photography to talk about the composition of a certain series of photos, which she felt looked poorly Photoshopped. Even though she disliked the series, she was engaged with trying to understand why the photographer would use such techniques. And, of course, in my class meetings where we discussed literature, we inevitably drifted away from the actual texts and spoke about our own experiences in the city, whether good or bad.

Even if we all felt homesick and tired and maybe even tired of each other at some point in the trip, we remained a “family,” as the students put it. Family, to me, means sharing experiences in honest and open ways–unafraid to question, to engage, to make decisions about what we value in art and life, or even our values and how they change. To just know that you can trust someone else with your true feelings about what you’ve just experienced. That is the real purpose of this trip in my mind—to establish that kind of rapport. It’s not to try and cram in every artistic and historical event in New York City into three weeks time, so that students can dance through them and later talk about their experiences like badges or trophies (“I saw this; I went here; I’ve done that before”). Instead, the purpose of this trip—and I think travel more generally—is to form lasting bonds with your travel mates, to reflect together on what you are seeing and learning, to miss the people more than the place when you get home.

Like the authors that we read for this trip, who were all searching for connections with others in places far from their homes, that’s what we seek when we venture to new places out of our comfort zone. I’m glad to have found that with my 2014 New York family. We talk so much about the importance of family in the South, about how family sustains us and keeps us grounded in place. But after this trip, I know that the concept of family extends beyond the bounds of our blood relations and our region. I know that, despite all the depressing literature Southerners may write, those connections forged are very real, and that perhaps, in contradiction to some of my earlier posts, home is transportable if you are with your family.

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A Southern Girl Says Goodbye to New York

Alas, it is our last evening here before an early trip home to Georgia tomorrow. I didn’t blog as much as I wanted this trip–my students put me to shame (probably because they receive grades for their posts :)) There was so much more I wanted to reflect on: how the South might just reside up in Harlem; how Coney Island always restores my soul; how I seem to always reconnect with old friends in this city; how I think I may have learned how to interact with New Yorkers on my very last evening here; how this Southern girl (unlike hometown girl Carson McCullers) ain’t ever leaving her region, not even for the cultural capital of the world. I’m going to use this excuse for my lack of posts: we’ve just stayed so busy, which means more experiences and less time to write about them. Instead, I’ll offer you some photos and let you see through my eyes what this trip has meant to me…(after all, this isn’t only a literature trip but a photography and arts trip, too).

Carson McCullers' Home in Nyack, NY.

Carson McCullers’ Home in Nyack, NY.

Sometimes the worst aspects of the South show up everywhere.

Sometimes the worst aspects of the South show up everywhere.

And the best ones also show up (at Sylvia's in Harlem).

And the best ones also show up (at Sylvia’s in Harlem).

I've dreamed of seeing Minton's ever since I read Ralph Ellison's "The Golden Age Time Past," one of my favorite jazz essays of all time.

I’ve dreamed of seeing Minton’s ever since I read Ralph Ellison’s “The Golden Age Time Past,” one of my favorite jazz essays of all time.

These are the "stars" that matter to me.

These are the “stars” that matter to me.

Catch the group in the glass  as we step into the Apollo.

Catch the group in the glass as we step into the Apollo.

The South lives in Harlem.

The South lives in Harlem.

Coney Island get-away.

Coney Island get-away.

An accidental walk back across the Brooklyn Bridge let me catch a little AG reference.

An accidental walk back across the Brooklyn Bridge let me catch a little AG reference.

Minetta's,  a site in the Village where Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Dylan Thomas, and e.e. cummings frequented.

Minetta’s, a site in the Village where Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Dylan Thomas, and e.e. cummings frequented.

My job is so cool that I get to take students to a pub--the White Horse Tavern, Dylan Thomas's favorite watering hole.

My job is so cool that I get to take students to a pub–the White Horse Tavern, Dylan Thomas’s favorite watering hole.

The end of our literary tour...with the beginning of great American literature.

The end of our literary tour…with the beginning of great American literature.

The sweetest end to this trip: a gift from a student. This means the most of anything I've gained here.

The sweetest end to this trip: a gift from a student. This means the most of anything I’ve gained here.

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On Coming Home

I left New York City two days ago and am only now writing my last blog post about this trip. The reason for my procrastination can be narrowed down to two things: general laziness and a reluctance to write a conclusion. I have often found conclusions to be difficult to write. They have to sum up the entirety of the narrative without seeming redundant while also offering a new perspective on the subjects mentioned. My mind is blank when I try to think of how to finish this blog series. I want the end to be perfect, like a neat little ribbon tied around a well wrapped present. How will I wrap this all up? Should I write out a laundry list of all the places I visited while in New York or should I discuss the overall theme of the trip and the lessons that I learned there? Both choices sound rather cliche but what other options do I have?

Earlier this evening I stood on my porch, watching Piper (my dog) investigate the yard as if she’s never seen it before. As the sky darkened and the fireflies awoke to illuminate the night, I mused about the trip and my thoughts drifted to the city of New York. The night was quiet here in Lawrenceville, Georgia, which is something that hardly ever happened in New York City. There were no sirens blaring every twenty minutes or people hollering in drunken merriment. The only sound here was the distant rumbling of thunder, a warning of an approaching summer storm. I couldn’t help but smile to myself for I was finally home, but a sadness lingered in my peripheral.

It didn’t take me long to realize that I missed New York City, or rather that I missed being away. When I was there the only thing I wanted was to go home, but now all I want is to leave. It’s funny how we are never satisfied with what we have. My homesickness got pretty bad when I was in New York City, but now that I am home I feel a sort of restlessness creeping ever closer. People are full of contradictions and I am in no way exempt. I posses a strong desire to travel, but at the same time I feel more comfortable at home. I despise being idle, yet I tire easily. All these contradictions and more are just part of who I am, and they help explain my conflicting emotions that I felt while standing outside that evening.

I am unsure as to where I am going with this. Maybe before I just type blindly I should plan out what I want to write, but that’s never really been my style. Writing whatever comes to mind has always been easier to me. I tend to forfeit coherence and structure for ease and authenticity. There will be no perfect ribbon to tie up this blog series, I have come to terms with that now. I have nothing else to say except that I’ve never been very good at wrapping presents. Like my writing, I prefer to just wing it.

A final look at New York City

A final look at New York City

 

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Why?

Whoa.

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It is day two of our return from the big apple. I still cannot believe how quickly time flew by.

I have been thinking about my first day. I have even thought about my first blog post, my first written record of my city adventure. I remember how I struggled with New York Universities wifi, annoyed by the fact that not only I could complete my work, but I could not post images on Facebook. I finally connected and became tremendously excited. However, even though I have written several posts over the last three weeks, I failed to mention something that has developed in my mind since the beginning.

I began the trip with everyone believing I was an English major because I was taking both the ITDS class (which my fellow peers thought was English) and the photography class. All of the students who joined me on the trip assumed my major to be English. They soon found out I am an Exercise Science major and an Art minor.

Throughout the journey I began to think about my “why” for Exercise Science as a major. I compiled a list of reasons in my head.

• I want to become a Physical Therapist.
• Physical Therapy is a stable career choice.
• There is a high calling for individuals in the medical field.
• I enjoy helping and serving others while making their day.
• Stable income.

I believe these reasons are genuine and honest. I remember breaking my ankle in 10th grade. I was at a friend’s birthday party and landed wrong after trying to catch a football. I went through surgery and months later began my venture into physical therapy. After my first visit I could not wait to go back. The people there were amazing and I could see the progress in my ankle after every visit. I went from a weird feeling of never being able to play sports or participate in active activities again, to running cross country and playing soccer the next semester.

My inspiration grew and I dove into this new found career headfirst.

I had second thoughts about my major when I found decided on an Art minor. I became (and still am) more excited about my art and photography classes than any other class.

Throughout the trip I have really thought about whether to change my major to art or not. I love being creative and photography is my greatest passion. I believe what is holding me back is the risk of taking the leap into something unknown. However, sometimes, it is the leap of faith that provides the greatest success.

Much Love,
Nathan

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