This year I took Kristen Fairey’s Ethnic New York class, where I spent the semester researching my neighborhood, Yorkville. I started by reading up on the general history of New York City. I then spent many days at the main NYPL browsing the archives for both primary and secondary accounts of Yorkville, from its creation in the 1850s to what it has become today. In addition, I spent a total of 10 hours on the streets of my neighborhood, observing the ethnographic life and architecture and taking detailed field notes. My extensive research culminated in a paper detailing Yorkville’s journey from farmland to high rises, as well as a visual exhibit in the Rosenquist Gallery summarizing my research. I thoroughly enjoyed the research process, and was surprised to find a depth of diversity in the history of Yorkville, despite its vanilla reputation.
Monday Night Hospitality is the soup kitchen run by the All Souls Church in my neighborhood. The kitchen provides more than 30,000 meals a year to all those in need. On Monday nights, a group of about 10 or 15 volunteers and I work together to set the tables, prep and cook the meals, serve the guests, and clean everything up afterwards. I help out at the kitchen every Monday I can; it is a wonderful environment of people who are all passionate about helping others and working together to provide a warm restaurant-style meal to those who need it most. I was able to connect with a diverse group of people that I wouldn’t normally interact with. Helping out at the soup kitchen is eye opening because it forces me to really appreciate the many privileges and opportunities I have, while also fueling my desire to actively work towards eliminating socio-economic disparities in America.