Sunday, November 20, 2011

Important Strides

A few days ago Emma and I had the opportunity to visit a variety of sightseeing spots as we took a bus tour with her dance school group in New York City. Ready for anything but not expecting anything extraordinary, having done a bus tour a few years earlier, we made our way onto the coach outside our hotel.

First we headed to Central Park West and visited the Imagine mosaic at Strawberry Fields. We saw John Lennon’s apartment building including the shutters that Yoko Ono closed and never reopened after his assassination. We visited Ground Zero where thousands of people went to work that fateful day 10 years ago, completely unaware of course that they would not be making their way home again. At Battery Park, we overlooked the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island and were reminded of the masses of people who made their way into the harbor in hopes of a better life in America.

Our next stop was at the United Nations headquarters. Here, we went on a guided tour and learned of the various efforts of the UN, from the work of the delegates to that of the peacekeepers and all others who uphold the pillars of the United Nations--Human Rights, Development, and Security. Karen, our guide, was Austrian. She spoke passionately of the various ways that we can influence the ongoing changes that are needed to make this world a more peaceful place. Learning as much as I did on the tour I felt great pride remembering how Emma whispered to me at the start of the tour that working for the UN in some capacity was a dream of consideration for her. This thought, coming from my musical-theater driven daughter, caught me a little off-guard. I found myself thinking of the direction my own career had taken me in my life. I thought of my work as a high school teacher and my own efforts to make a difference in this world.

On a trip to NYC where our focus is often on seeing great shows and shopping, it was humbling to visit Strawberry Fields, Ground Zero, Battery Park, and The United Nations headquarters. Emma and I carried the important messages of our bus tour travels with us for the remainder of our trip. I saw this the next day when Emma stopped to help out a young woman who had purchased the wrong subway tickets. As Emma reached into her own purse to find five dollars to bring over to the young woman who was noticeably anxious, I flashed forward to the sight of Emma planting seeds for a better world in her future. It won’t matter whether my daughter ends up working at the UN or on the stages of Broadway; she’ll still make an incredible difference in this world. Of this I have no doubt. Raising my three children and educating the numerous teens I have in my career I've made important strides too. Still I think, what more can I do?

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