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Urban Studies (INI437) Trip to NYC – Reading Week 2010
As part of INI437 (Urban Experiential Learning) a group of 7 students, along with Dr. Shauna Brail, were able to travel to New York City during reading week to meet with numerous community groups, learn about the urban environment of a city outside Toronto, attend a lecture at the Milano New School, and meet some students in a course similar to INI437 from New York University. Of course, since this was reading week we did have some free time to experience New York on our own, which included everything from wandering the streets to shopping and sightseeing. The trip was funded in part through the Faculty of Arts and Science’s Internationalized Course Module fund.
Notable Urban studies-related excursions included a visit to the museum of New York, where an introduction to the development of New York was provided in an interesting multimedia presentation. A visit to the Lower East-Side Tenement Museum the following day also provided us insight into the living conditions that tenement dwellers faced at the turn of the century. Also, participating students went on an interesting (if somewhat unorthodox) walking tour of Harlem, where we were shown many of the community-based organizations that operate to serve the local impoverished residents. Church programs, neighbourhood activists, and children’s educational initiatives all come together to serve the needs of the population.
Of particular note were our visits to the Project for Public Spaces (PPS) and a book lecture by Jacqueline Novogratz, where alternative ways to plan cities and facilitate economic development in third-world countries were presented. However, to me, two statements serve to summarize the learning experience of the entire trip: PPS’s statement that “You must make planning your own”, and Novogratz in saying “Schools must stop telling their students that they are the leaders of the future, and start telling them that becoming a leader is a lifelong journey”. It is experiences such as this New York Trip that are indeed part of this journey.