Many Cultures, One Neighborhood: A Fulbright Adventure to Harlem

On a sunny day in early May, Visiting Fulbright Scholars and their families located in the greater New York City area trekked to a famous neighborhood in their host city. Although not publicly known for tourism, Harlem proved to be a rewarding and unique area to visit.

Tour guide, Anthony Bowman, answering the scholar’s questions after the church service

Tour guide, Anthony Bowman, answering the scholar’s questions after the church service

The group was guided by a specialist in African-American history through the vibrant streets of Harlem. Beginning at the famous Apollo Theater, Fulbrighters learned about events such as the Great Migration and the Harlem Renaissance. Eventually the scholars landed at their midway destination, the First Corinthians Baptist Church, where they listened to beautiful Gospel hymns and listened in to a service on the need for justice in the black community. Reverend Lekisha related this necessity to the social unrest unraveling in Baltimore.

Scholars and their families walking down 116th Street in Harlem

Scholars and their families walking down 116th Street in Harlem

After the moving experience at the church, the group toured a part of Harlem known as “Little Africa,” named for the presence of West African immigrants. In this area, scholars passed the mosque Masjid Malcom Shabazz, where they seized the opportunity to discuss Malcom X’s philosophy of unifying Muslims from all cultural backgrounds.

Anthony talking about the evolution of Jazz

Anthony talking about the evolution of Jazz

At the end of the outing, scholars were treated to discover American “soul food,” with delicious samplings such as fried chicken, candied yams, macaroni & cheese, and sweet tea. Overall, scholars were amazed at how safe and lively the streets of Harlem were, which is typically stereotyped as a poor and dangerous neighborhood of the city.

Advertisements

Sailing Down the Hudson

Fulbright Visiting Scholars in the Greater New York City area were fortunate enough to go on a sailing adventure on the Hudson, one of the rivers that surrounds the island of Manhattan that creeps through the state of New York.

Fulbright scholars learning how the Sloop’s crew navigates along the Hudson River

Fulbright scholars learning how the Sloop’s crew navigates along the Hudson River

To begin the day on the water, scholars and their families were taken to the old capitol of New York, Kingston. This city was once a transportation hub for railways and ships. The group then had a three-hour long sailing experience with local non-profit, Clearwater, an organization that influences environmental policy and heightens awareness about ecological issues. The Fulbright crew learned about the river’s relationship to New York City, its role in supporting local ecosystems, and the environmental issues it faces. They also had the chance to drop a fishing net into the water, man the sails, and navigate the Hudson. Beyond the beauty of the Hudson Valley, Fulbrighters also saw an American Eel!

Fulbright scholars helping to raise the sails of the Clearwater

Fulbright scholars helping to raise the sails of the Clearwater

After getting back their land-legs, the group took a stroll on the longest pedestrian bridge in the world, known as the Walkway Over the Hudson. The participants were astounded at how beautiful their ecosystem was, especially considering that the big city was only a few miles away. With a landscape that gorgeous, who wouldn’t want to preserve its wonder?

The Fulbright group on Walkway Over The Hudson

The Fulbright group on Walkway Over The Hudson

Dutch scholar Mathijs Van de Sande, Irish scholar Ailbhe Kenny and her husband Richard getting their bearings

Dutch scholar Mathijs Van de Sande, Irish scholar Ailbhe Kenny and her husband Richard getting their bearings

Traveling Back in Time to Sturbridge Village

Boston area Fulbright Visiting Scholars traveled back in time to 1830’s rural New England at Sturbridge Village, a living history museum in Sturbridge, Massachussetts. Costumed actors, historic buildings and activities such as pottery making, smithery, weaving, and cooking, brought Massachussetts history to life in this small village.

A local schoolchild in period clothing.

A local schoolchild in period clothing.

Scholars spent the day enjoying aspects of 1830s life. They took horse-drawn rides in stagecoaches and hay wagons. Some watched the making of butter in a wooden churn and tasted the final product. Others learned about the history and crafts of the period through books in the General Store and Bookshop. Still others enjoyed taking hiking trails around the millpond and through wooded fields.

Visiting Scholars enjoy a hay ride.

Visiting Scholars enjoy a hay ride.

One highlight of the day was the annual springtime Family Farm Fest,  which featured newborn farm animals and activities for school children. Everyone enjoyed playing with lambs and bunnies, while staff in period costume explained the historical context of farm activities.

Barbara Harrison of WorldBoston with a young Fulbrighter.

Barbara Harrison of WorldBoston with a young Fulbrighter.

The day was packed with learning about Massacussetts history and culture. Several Scholars commented that although they spent the day at the village, they could spend many more enjoying the many things to see and do!