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Quintessential New York includes professional advice, urban adventure

Tourists struggled through the blinding snow, seeking comfort from insufficient umbrellas. Many slipped in an attempt to leap over puddles. However, soaked through shoes did not damper the ?wows!? and ?look at thats!? of experiencing the neon lights and massive billboards of Times Square.

Forty-three journalism and drama students slept in tiny hotel rooms, crammed in subways and enjoyed the splendor of New York City for a week. While the evenings were filled with activities like Broadway shows, they also had a chance to learn from the best in their profession.

?It was a great experience to learn from Robert Greenman, an education consultant for the New York Times, at the journalism conference at Columbia University,? Benjamin Dang, ?08, said. ?He has a lot of experience in the field of publications, and taught me to really tell a story with my articles. I also learned that what (adviser Greg) Stobbe has instructed us: to focus on people in stories. It is actually true.”

The drama students attended workshops given by professional actors.

“The workshop was really cool,” Anthony Johnson, ’09, said. “I learned that when acting, I need to project my voice and enunciate my words. It was fun when we were given a social status and had to act out a scene, using our place in society. It was really challenging.”

Besides writing and acting tips, travelers gained street smarts.

?I learned to not make eye contact with strange people,? Kristina Palmer, ?09, said.? One man said, ?give me $50,000 and I?ll take you up to the moon in a rocket.’ You have to ignore the unusual characters of New York City.?

Students visited sight-seeing attractions, as well as attending conferences. Locations like the Empire State Building and Ellis Island gave the adventurers a unique New York experience.

?When I found my last name on record at Ellis Island, I was excited to be on the spot where my ancestors came to America,? Britttany Stobbe, ?09, said. ?It was cool to realize that my family?s name was a part of history 2,500 miles away.?

While some reveled in the visual and kinesetic experiences, five boys competed in Stobbe’s annual eating contest at White Castle burgers. Despite the four miles the group walked everyday, Dang and friends gained at least one pound by way of the annual chow down. All of the contestants managed to consume 12 mini burgers, or sliders, as they are affectionately known, in one sitting.

“Going in to the competition, I didn’t know if I could do it,” Johnson said. “And after the eighth or ninth burger, it started getting hard. However, I kept going so I could beat the bigger guys. It was fun, but I think this will be a one time thing.”

Students also had the chance to ice skate in Central Park. The ice-dance routines and games of tag made the activity a highlight for many students.

“Skating was fun, but scary,” Nacoya Villegas, ’10, said. “When the really experienced staff skaters whizzed past me, I screamed every time. Then I fell right down when everyone else did for a picture; we landed in a heap on the ice. It was one of the best parts of the trip.”

After skating, the trek back home to the hotel was a treacherous one, due to the piles of snow on street corners. Students thought carefully about each step in order to not envelope their shoes in the slush.

However, once back at the hotel, more perils awaited. Danielle Ricchiuti, ’09, shared a room with friend Natalie McCallum, ’09, and juniors Claire Kister and Jennifer Sherfield. Their crowded hotel room, with clothes and staighteners strewn about, set the stage for disaster.

While preparing for dinner, Ricchiuti dropped McCallum’s retainer-“plop”- into the toilet.

With hands to her face, Ricchiuti looked to the left and right. Her roommates stood absolutely silent. “Oops,” she whispered.

“That was just about the funniest thing that happened on the whole trip,” Kister said.

Students also had the opportunity to see two Broadway plays, Wicked and Mary Poppins.

“It was really exciting when the lights went down and Mary Poppins was about to start,” Kelly Gong, ’08, said. “The acting was so good, and we felt like we could participate in the performance by dressing up, and when Mary Poppins flew over the audience. The whole experience was like a movie, times ten.”

Argueably the most sobering part of the trip was a visit to FDNY Ten House, the firestation across the street from Ground Zero. Stobbe’s group spent an hour with 12-year veteran firefighter, John Morabito, who survived the collapse of the Twin Towers on Sept. 11, 2001. His personal stories of heroism and horror captivated the group and will forever be etched in our minds.

The drama class is in final preparation for their March 29 performance of Treasure Island while publication students continue to publish daily articles on The Feather.

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