(Final think piece also submitted in paper. As a poem, it is in Terza Rima, where stanzas are in triplets that follow a rhyme pattern to ABA,BCB,… etc. For my sake, i confined it to have a ten syllable count.)

Midway in our college year, we resume, // Bordered by white walls and one vast window, // Twenty of us squeezed into that little room.

Before us, bodies were cloned in shadow, // A room so hot was a bit of an irk, //Whilst air outside maintained a frigid flow.

But yet, I could not even help but smirk, // When she said “it would be a little fun //Compared to last year, and a lot of work”.

Area taken, our minds informed and waken, // Our limited vision moved to expand, // Past my eyes of first born American,

And so last semester we dwelled first-hand, // What it meant to breathe artistic glamour, // Human expression that gives life to the bland.

But now we explored the diverse culture, // National pride that governs our own lives, // Both heritage and art forms a gesture.

So underneath, buried facades survive, // Overshadowed by bright new signs that stood, // Colorful awnings, a new culture alive. 

A testament of changing neighborhoods, // Stands proof of a patch work quilt, who in part // Are living amoebas, that have withstood. 

He taught to take inspiration from arts, // She taught the meaning of communities, //So architecture became where change starts.

Engaged in both its makeup and beauties, // I take hold inspiration and talent, // Personal technique unharmed, seek to appease

And instill an edifice so brilliant.

 

– Artur Dabrowski, Thanks.

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(Indirect poem touching upon my New York, as well as another.)

How is it, / that every time my eyes look at you, / I smile, as if I’ve seen you for the first time. / I’m such a tourist, gazing in awe, / Struck by such an unfamiliar feeling so raw, / Just so often lost, in a thought or two, / On a street or two, / But I’m not one of them. / I’m not simply hoping to gain a memory / or recount back a story or two. / I want to build upon your stories. / And if need be, / To take your tired eyes, / your poor habits, / Your teeming imagination. / And lift my wounded hands / beside your golden presence.

I’ll overlook your past, / If you overlook mine. / But I won’t neglect your feelings, / so tell me if you want. / Your colorful heart, / My visions, my plans, / If you were to trust me with all this, / Like a wounded rabbit, / I’ll take good care of it. / Or I’ll whittle you a new one.

To think the first day we met, / I was so shy around you, / Cowering before the bridge of our separation. / Yet now, we are so close, / And now, I am captivated by your allure. / There is so much about you / that I have yet to know, / yet to experience.

And I will stay with you. / Only separated by the walls of my studio, / But through the longest of nights, / I will be thinking of you, / Hoping to discover something new, / Yet in mind, a proposal or two. / A rough concept, / Waiting to be drawn out.

 

– Artur Dabrowski

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(A more direct poem developing thoughts about my New York.)

Has my seasons here gone to waste, / Living amongst a city so wondrous, / So flavorful, so intoxicating, / Where flashing lights adorn the skies / Are more vibrant than even the closest star? / Just looking out my window this moment, / The night sky of my past never looked so empty.

But empty it was. / Never before did I have these experiences, / Any opportunity to be truly lost among the streets. / So, never actually having the pleasure of exploring, / Our last encounter has left me lingering.

In effect, being deprived so long has / Made my appreciation ten fold. / Having a heighten sense of appreciation, / I am overjoyed for all your prospects. / Or should I give it some time, / and see where my love is misleading?

Whatever it may be, / I cannot deny the city as a part of me, / I want to glow among those artificial lights, / build upon its stories, / borrow its inspiration / and supersede my own.

 Still, I’m a little boy / Sitting in an empty sandbox, / Dreaming one day to build his castle. / But coupled with a rich architectural playground, / The day will come when / All the sunrises I’ve been awake through, / Will finally be worth it.

 

– Artur Dabrowski

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(Asked what I would do if I won the lottery?)

Hope to death that it stay a dream. / Detest me for being practical,  / I was one to never believe in luck, / Every time I was left disappointed. / And so, proven wrong, / I would think to stay modest. / But I’ll continue to shake my head, / So much, that one day I will lose my balance, / and blackout.

Before I wake, I would take those riches, / Amass all the wood in the world, / And alone, build a massive staircase, / Piece by piece, striving to attain a height worthy of phobia, / When I have used the last piece, I shall curse the heavens, / Shout out for Him to take me. / But when his hand reaches forth from the horizon, / I will fall,

But land softly, / Soft into a pile of clothing that my lust shall inevitably indulge. / Detest me for being materialistic, / I was one of broken self-esteem, crushed long ago. / And so, the selfish impulses will stir wildly, / My skin, undermined by my attire, / My words, overshadowed by my stride, / To walk, means to steal the eyes of even the least vain.

But I would prefer to take from you your pardon, / I only wanted the good life told in fiction. / Detest me for being ambitious, / I was one born a first-generation American, / Always eager to move up,

And move on, / Find a new place, a space of my own. / For I am tired, tired of a room so ordain, / where only I am the one changing. / Detest me for being an architect, / I was one to envision everything anew. / So let me dream, let me crave anew, / But handicapped, I can stay modest.

 

-Artur Dabrowksi

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Independent Trip To A Cultural Institution Or Location (Make-Up)

Indeed, going to Washington Square Park is very off-beat, not like any rigid cultural institution. But to be completely honest, I have grown a tendency to shy away from museums and other similarly established institutions. It is because my interest was never a deciding factor in attending. Besides the atmosphere is completely different, there isn’t the overflow of hungry tourists, crowding to be fed a second-hand taste of urban or historic life.

Museums are also very straightforward; they present what they want to present, we absorb it, and move on (and not to mention most likely forget it too). Unlike these institutions, parks seem to gravitate people not for our intellectual needs but our instinctual need to be connected to nature. It is almost a freedom from urban life. No matter, parks are the nodes of the city, cultural gathering points and the divergence of human paths.

To my surprise, there is some historical knowledge to gain from parks. One way is through its monuments, though, only after follow up research. My trip to Washington Square Park (a detour from my many trips to the art supplies store this spring break) taught me a little about Italian national culture. Among the few statues (George Washington and an engineer from the steel industry) is a statue of Giuseppe Garibaldi, commander of the insurrectionist forces in Italy’s struggle for unification, a so-called national hero for the Italians. He is a dominant historical figure that is especially revered by Italian-Americans of earlier generations. The translation of the engraving on the back of the statue reads “erected the 2nd of June, 1888, by Italians of the United States,” pointing out the importance he had to the Italian-American community. It was in fact a result of a fund-raising drive organized by Italian immigrants in New York to commemorate Garibaldi’s death. The statue, a few decades later, became a rallying point for various organizations sympathetic to Italian causes, political and social, current home and home abroad. 

It seems as though with every culture is this national pride and heritage to the unification or solidarity of their nations. It goes the same for the Polish. The statue of Father Jerzy Popiełuszko, a martyr for the solidarity movement, as well as the name Pope John Paul II. Among older generations like my parents, it is amazing how well regarded he is and how much national pride they still retain. These figures are testaments of national pride, unifying cultural communities divided by the ocean.

 

– Artur Dabrowski

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Having seen musicals as snobbish as the people who went for them, In the Heights was a surprising breath of fresh air. The main premise of the musical was change and the consequences it would have on those who wanted it and those who didn’t–a likeable enough theme, made unique by the setting, which was Washington Heights, which is not too far from the City College of New York, a fact accentuated by the A train stop prop atop the stage. The characters themselves were around the age of college students, making the musical easy to relate to. The Stanford part, not so much.
My first thoughts were that I could actually understand what they were saying. At least, for the most part. There were many one-liners and jokes that helped ease the actual tension of the story line, especially coming from the character of the owner of the hair salon and the assistant of the deli owner, and made me laugh. There was also Spanish here and there, which sometimes I could understand, thanks to two years in high school. Even when I didn’t understand it, it added to the authenticity of the musical as today conversations are flying about half in English and half in any other language.
My favorite aspects about this musical were definitely the songs and the music. The songs ranged from ballads to hip-hop and each one was sung with so much emotion and passion that straight out words couldn’t have put it better. The dancing that accompanied some of the songs was also breathtaking. It really helped with the whole modern feeling that the musical was giving off.
I also liked the sort of rags-to-riches theme, where someone had a winning lottery ticket and they all pitched their own dreams of what they would do with the money. The actual winner was the Abuelita who unfortunately passed on and gave the money to the deli owner, who planned to move away from it all. I was touched how he decided in the end not to, because he had only been moving away to search for better things, when he realized that Washington Heights was the best he’d ever get.
It was a real feel-good musical with all the happy endings.

-Lillian H.

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The future of our society depends on the students in the class rooms. May the students be pre-school students or college students they are all equally important to the advancement of the world. Hence, the responsibilities of the schools and it’s teachers are very significant. The Class depicts a common classroom of a French public school, displaying the chaotic process of disciplining the young minds that will bring order to the future.

The Class, or Entre les Murs, the movie by Francois Begaudeau’s was spectacular in bringing the sense of public school to the audience. He fully depicts an urban class room setting, which is very similar to the classrooms of public schools in New York City. A room filled with all different personalities and ethnicities. This one aspect of the movie can be seen in classrooms throughout the world, which makes the portrayed experiences universal.

The movie not only plays on the cultural diffusion of an urban region, it also plays on the problems of immigration. We see Wei’s mother being deported to back to China because she was an illegal immigrant. But, many parents are illegal immigrants looking for a better place for their children which brings up the question of “should illegal immigrants stay in the country if they have children in the education system?” Many more dilemmas of immigration arise within the movie.

We clearly see an illustration of the communication problems between immigrants and natives. In the scene with conference between Francois and his student’s parents we see that many of the parents need translators. We also see Wei’s mother nod her had most of the time showing that she has little understanding of what Francois is saying. Also, Soulyman’s mother needed a translator which gives Francois problems since he did not shake her hand in the end but he shook Soulyman’s brother’s hand instead. The act displays the question of where power belongs, does the power and responsibility of Soulyman belong to his mother or his brother?

But the scene also shows the double life of a student. The life where a student must act a certain way around his or her friends, while he or she will have to act a different way towards his or her parents. This situation is commonly experienced by students, since there are two standards in society. A student has to be a rebel in order to be popular yet he or she must abide by the rules of the house when he or she is in front of a parent.

The Class is a splendid performance worthy of recognition. With its depictions of many problems of urban society. Showing the problems of immigrants attempting to assimilate into the community. Also displaying the life of a students in the time of life when they are searching for their identity. In end The Class is a mind titillating performance that makes the viewers question the education system of today’s society.

-Philip Liu

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A performance worth one thousand praises. The excessive adulation is no exaggeration. The performance can wake those asleep due to lack of rest or those that have a lack of motivation. For one to express common events such as disappointing one’s parents, or the difficulties of adapting to college in such passion it felt as if I was living in the performance instead of watching it, which twice about the life I’ve lived so far.

As a college student I understand where Nina is coming from, but at the same time I find myself in a luckier position. She struggles to make her parents happy and at the same moment sacrifices her own wellbeing. In order keep her parents from worry about financial burdens she worked two jobs. If I were to face such obstacles, I wonder if I could over come it. Since I have the privilege of attending CUNY instead of an expensive private university like Stanford I have few economic worries, so working two jobs is unnecessary for me. Nina was not so lucky, even with her scholarship she failed to meet all her fiscal necessities.

Then the next thing about Nina that shook me was the tremendous burden she carried. Nina’s ability to keep the news of her college decision from her parents compelled me to think about what I would have done. The fear and grief of letting my parents down would be a colossal burden. The disappointment would haunt me even though many of my family members are successful, but they are first generation immigrants, I am the first second-generation immigrant to go to college in my family. My parents expect greater achievements from me. When Nina had her heart aching expression it was obvious that she had troubled times at Stanford. But the weight she carries is much larger than mine. She carries the hopes of the whole neighborhood. I could have gone insane with such expectations on me.

Nina has one thing that is her savior through the troubled times, her family and friends who give her support. Family is one of the most important themes of the performance. Kevin, Nina’s father, is willing to give up his small car service business in order to keep Nina in school. The business is very dear to him. He gained the business through working for the original owner as a mechanic. Although, he is now old he is willing to sacrifice his business and his health for his daughter by selling the business.

Through her strife she manages to salvage herself and gain the courage to go back to Stanford in order make her parents and the whole neighborhood proud. Her determination has made me realize that if I do not truly give college my all then I will never be able to accomplish what my whole family expects of me. I must prove to myself that I can complete my family’s aspirations, especially since my situation is better than that of Nina’s. Along the way I hope my family will be as supportive as Nina’s family.

-Philip Liu

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Can a man with little understanding of the life of another really judge him? Although Jacob A. Riis did claim the ideas of the Chinese were his opinions. But, such views of the Chinese was all together too callous. Many of today’s common experiences of the Chinese and of Chinatown contradicts the writings of Riis.

The Chinese were “thousand years behind the age”(Jacob A. Riis, 73) in the early twentieth century. But, being years behind in technology does not justify the need to convert from the “pagan worship of idols”(Jacob A. Riis, 73) to Christianity. The failure of conversion from the celestial gods is due the fact that humans have the tendency to regiment themselves. For thousands of years the Chinese has worshipped these pagan gods it is not to suspect one to convert so easily. Christianity thrived from the ever adapting changes it has made throughout the centuries. Which is why Christianity is widely accepted, but one should not expect that a person to convert from a religion they were raised by to one with many flavors.

Yet, to state that the Chinese would only adopt Christianity in order to gain a some rapid benefits is cruel. The Chinese of the twentieth century maybe “passionate when aroused,”(Jacob A. Riis, 73) but the passion is from the want to succeed in order to gain some prospect for his or her kin, which in no manner substantiates the need to convert to the religion of the masses.

Today, there are many Chinese Christian churches. One can see many of these churches in Chinatown, Manhattan or Sunset Park, Brooklyn and even in Flushing, Queens. Many of the young Chinese generation adopt Christianity today. The Church offers them guidance and a place to go to after school. Although, the change may have took some amount of years, Riis idea of the Chinese being non-receptive of the Christian religion is no longer a common misconception.

Riis states “Chinatown as a spectacle is disappointing.” Where there is little life on the streets and people pride themselves in playing the game of fan tan over the necessity of placing food in their stomachs. Such a view of Chinatown is intriguing compared today’s bustling streets of Mott and Bowery. The idea of a lifeless Chinatown is hard to imagine when we compare it to the hordes of people rushing from work to the small food markets which occupies every inch of Elizabeth Street. The fact that Chinatown was once a disappointing spectacle would be a shock to any uninformed tourist which walks by Chinatown, one of the hottest spots for tourism in New York City.

A century has gone by and New York City has evolved drastically. Taking the small example of Chinatown is enough to show how dramatically the small city has changed from a place where streets are lifeless, and the standards of living are minimal to one of the key regions of the state. New York City is changing every moment and maybe one day our ideas of the city will become captivating contradictions.

-Philip Liu

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For 19 years of my life I have lived in New York City, a place known for its restlessness and diversity. But, the nightlife and bombarding noise of the city is not one of reasons for my love of the land. My attachment to NYC is because of my home in the small, quiet region of Bensonhurst.

Although, Bensonhurst may not be the center of the Big Apple but it does have its own persona. Bensonhurst is tranquil which offers peace and security. Those two attributes were important through my childhood and my adolescent years. Because of the tranquility offered by Bensonhurst my parents were relenting in allowing me to explore the outside world, as long as I was still in Bensonhurst.

Since I was capable of exploring my neighborhood I developed a liking towards a game known as handball, the wallsport not the team sport, in junior high school. I made many close friends and lost many I decided to go to school in Fort Greene instead of Bensonhurst. Sometimes I wonder what would have happened if I went to school in Bensonhurst instead of going to Brooklyn Tech at Fort Greene.

Bensonhurst was my starting point in life. I grew up and branched off. Now I attend City College in the upper part of Manhattan. I believe that I would never have been able to go so far if it wasn’t for the hospitable characteristics of Bensonhurst. Even though the small neighborhood is changing everyday, like everything in NYC, I still feel connected to it as if I was that little boy that went to the handball courts with his friends for the first time.

-Philip Liu

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