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Access on The NUSEA Citizenship Tour, Day 4

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Monday July 21,2015

Today was a very productive day.  I had the opportunity to speak with Elijah E. Cummings, our Congressman representative of Maryland, it was very inspiring because he taught all of us about passion and using that flaming intensity of your passion to help others. I enjoyed the fact that he told us that no matter through the good, bad and ugly, always value the things that come because it helps you grow as a person. His talk at the SquashWise facility at the Meadow Mill Club in Baltimore was very moving and personal because the SquashWise students were present with us, so there were multiple crowds of diverse, underrepresented students who could take advantage of Cummings’ great ideals.

After playing squash at the Meadow Mill Club and eating Chipotle, we headed to the Capitol of America. At first when I saw D.C., I fell in love with it because it felt like a metropolitan area similar to NYC, but it was a lot less crowded and busy. It was calm and quiet.

We then came over to visit the Lincoln Memorial and Washington Monument, and those statues are HUGE. Stay tuned for more.

-Kevin L

 

Student Blog

Access on The NUSEA Citizenship Tour, Day 1

 

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Johnny H. – Access Youth Academy Team 5 Student

Day 1 by Johnny

Wednesday – July 15, 2015

When Chrissy mentioned that we would have to write blog posts every night after a day full of citizenship-tour-y things, I figured that I would get the jump on it and write a bit on the flight over. I’ve already learned a few things, and the day hasn’t even begun (it is currently 8:30 AM PST, normally, I’d still be dead to the world.)

My Grandmother is a seasoned traveler who prefers Southwest Airlines. We can trust them to be organized and on time, which is almost always the case. In light of this, when we found out I’d be flying American, she made it her mission to get me to the airport with two hours to spare. This practice proved to be incredibly effective. Upon arrival, I realized that American’s curbside check in wasn’t in service yet, and the line for regular baggage check stretched out the door.

I made my way to one of the two lines, found out it was the wrong one from some frazzled worker, and made my way to the other. I was behind a woman who had gone through a similar event, and proceeded to make small talk with me.

Luckily, Access had trained me for polite small talk, and I answered her questions earnestly, fighting the drowsiness of a sleepless night. I found out she was in her early thirties, and had gotten a degree in electrical engineering. Dissatisfied, she was going back to school to get a degree in medicine. She related to me that she was worried about starting over at such a late age, but I assured her that it’s never too late to start over.

There’s actually a medical term that labels the feeling you get when you realize that all these strangers around you have lives as complex as yours with experiences equally as rich. This was one of those times.

Anyway, the poor woman had three gigantic bags, so I helped her move in the line. Eventually we were split up to check in separately, but not before she warned me about the dangers of pursuing a career in programming. Eye strain, to be specific, which is actually avoidable with corrective glasses (not that I told her this). We then parted for our own destinations. I can’t help but hope that med school turns out to give her what she’s looking for. Lessons learned: Strangers have lives, and change is okay whenever you initiate it.

The woman overseeing the five self check-in kiosks told me to use a charge card. Although I’d prefer to use cash over my emergency debit, I was too nervous to bother another clearly frazzled worker, so I did as I was told (sorry Grandma).

A quick trip through security, where I encountered the first worker who performed calmly under the stress of a busy airport, and I was spat out onto the three-way junction that leads to all of the terminals. My flight was at Gate 29, a straight shot, while Starbucks, which is always a stop for me at the airport, was far off near Gate 37. I had promised my travel partner Kevin Le a drink in return for him grabbing my squash gear, and I always make good. Carrying a sleeping bag and a heavy laptop bag, I made my way there. The trip over took what felt like seven minutes, and I paid for the overpriced food and drinks with plenty of time to spare before I had to be at my gate. A tall mocha for Le, a tall white-chocolate Mocha and a sandwich for me, all for the grand total of 13 dollars with change. Add a two-dollar tip to it, (they were swamped; I always tip a dollar but I felt bad that such a large swarm had only awarded the baristas with maybe 3 dollars in tips,) and 15 dollars had suddenly dissipated from my wallet.

The walk back was impossibly difficult. I had to drink down a bit of both drinks before I could really move, and my hands still walked away burnt. I have a habit of talking to myself whenever I’m: A. in public, and B. alone, and I’m certain the majority of what I said was, “Kevin Le better be thankful. I look like a juggler/waiter and I’m certain this lady is staring at me for talking to myself.” Cue the under-the-eyelash-shy-hello-I-swear-I’m-not-crazy look.

I finally arrived at my terminal, put on my headphones to listen to the Heathers soundtrack, (not over it yet, nope), and counted the number of stickers on the guitar case that belonged to the guy sitting across from me. Time ticked by, until my group was called to board.

Kevin Le hadn’t arrived yet. I texted him frantically, and relayed the same message to Chrissy. I was in full on panic mode, an explosive cocktail one part caffeine, three parts my friend isn’t here yet, and lingered a bit, hoping to buy some time. He eventually told me he missed his flight, which of course made me mad and sad. Le graduated this year, and I was already missing him. A five-hour flight stuck next to him would’ve been great to catch up. Sadly, this wasn’t the case. I sent a few more texts and boarded, and was lucky enough to avoid the middle seat that makes typing near impossible. Lessons Learned: My grandma is always right, and sometimes things don’t work out but that’s okay.

Currently, I’m seated next to a nice family of five, two beside me, and the last three behind. I scored on an aisle seat (I prefer window, but I don’t mind), next to the father of the family (I hope he’s not reading this as I type it, but I’ll put this here in case he is.) He has an English accent of some sort. I can’t place the region, but it’s sort of like buttermilk and soft, no harsh syllables. His kid is nice as well, a bit excitable, but energetic, which is a very good thing. I’m settled with a Dr. Pepper (yay, caffeine!) and ready for 4 more hours of trying to entertain myself.

I’ll continue the blog post later tonight, after we all retire to our rooms. This somehow ended up being three pages long even though the day had only began. My apologies in advanced. Lessons Learned: Accents will always be cool, and I need to get better at summaries.

I learned on the taxi ride from JFK that we would actually be spending the night with a host family in Harlem. The middle brother of the family, Nick Little, would be accompanying us on the trip as well.

He was in the taxi with myself, and the ride was awkward in every way it could’ve been. I didn’t sense any hostility, so I blamed it on shared nerves. He opened up more with a few question about living in New York and his schooling. He’s an incoming college freshman who has a talent and passion for engineering and programming.

His house was shocking to me. My Grandma is strict about things being in order, but the Littles permitted a bit of a mess. It wasn’t, dirty, but warm in a way. The clutter I expected actually granted a sense of established security. Lesson Learned: Different can be just as good.

Nick’s mom, a lovely woman who hailed from an island in the Caribbean, treated us to some homemade pizza. It was every bit as delicious as you expected a homemade New York pizza to be. Afterwards, we just played video games, hung out in his room, and waited for Kevin Le to arrive.

Unfortunately for all of us, Kevin didn’t make it to his house until about 1:30 in the morning. His flight in Chicago was delayed for two hours because the Captain didn’t show up, which seemed ridiculous to all of us. Delirious on sleep deprivation, we hit the sack at about 2:00 am.

I can remember the excitement building for the next day. The tour was almost upon us, and I was in New York City, the place I knew my future would take me. Dazzling lights, busy life, and Broadway. Big dreams, but closer than ever in that moment.

Student Blog

Access on the NUSEA Citizenship Tour, Day 3

 

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The students of The NUSEA Citizenship Tour at a Phillies game
Photo Courtesy of NUSEA

Day #3 July 18, 2015

Today was such a great day considering the fact that we moved from city to city. It was an amazing experience to see the Big Apple and travel to Liberty Island to see the iconic Statue of Liberty in person. Traveling to Ellis Island was incredible to see the environment where all the immigrants lived in during the 1800s when they came to pursue the great American Dream.

Afterwards, drove 2 hours down to Philadelphia, where we watched a baseball game of the Phillies and the Miami Marlins with the executive director of SquashSmarts, Steven. Steven was so kind and generous to rent out a VIP suite for all of us to watch the game and it was such an wonderful opportunity to watch the game from the suite. He offered so much food to us, such as hot dog, pizza, and cheesesteak sandwiches. My first time eating a cheesesteak sandwich in Philadelphia was amazing! Overall, Steve was so kind to us and I notice that Philadelphia is truly the City of Brotherly Love because everyone was so nice and welcoming. It was a complete shift from the busy, assertive New Yorker life to the welcoming and appreciative Philly life.

We then went to the SquashSmarts facility to play some late night squash at 10:30 PM.
We got to play some doubles matches for several hours. It was so much fun and I’m having a blast so far in this trip.

Student Blog

Access on The NUSEA Citizenship Tour

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The First Day on The NUSEA Citizenship Tour By Kevin L.

Thursday July 16th, 2015

After traveling into NYC at 2 in the morning, I had the opportunity to stay in Harlem. The neighborhood of Harlem is very quiet and calm and I enjoyed being around the area. Johnny (an Access Student), Nick (our host) and I then went to the meeting spot of our tour, and from there we met so many different student athletes from all over the country. We were able to practice with them at the Harvard Club, which is one of the most prestigious squash clubs around the country. Afterwards we had the chance to hear from George Polsky, executive director of StreetSquash on his story on how he started the squash program. Then we listened to David Segal, a Pulitzer Prize journalist winner, on his story of how he got into Journalism and what he does for his career.
Afterwards, we showered and changed into our casual clothes and ate pizza at Bryant Park, where we did icebreakers and got to know each other. Tim Wyant had a chat with us about the NUSEA program and we had a great discussion about urban squash and its potential in the future.

I had so much fun on my first day at the trip and it’s barely getting started. It feels good to be back in the New York area and walking around Times Square is very mesmerizing.

Student Blog

College Update: Perla Rubi, Junior at Bowdoin University

Access College Update: Perla Rubi
“This summer I have been interning at The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. I was part of the Physician Scientist Training Program in high school and they gave me the opportunity as an undergraduate to intern at one of Canada’s most research-intensive hospitals. I am working in Dr. Margot Taylor’s lab in the Department of Neurosciences and Mental Health. I am working on a project that is looking at brain connectivity of adults and children with autism when performing a theory of mind task. Toronto has been amazing so far! I got the chance to watch some squash pros in the Pan-American games. I even caught one of the balls when it went over the glass. Toronto is such a diverse city and there is always something to do. I had never considered myself much of a city girl until now”
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Student Blog

Brave New Voices – Akatzin and Talha

 

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DELIZBETH

Shall I compare thee to a trick candle?

You’re more stubborn than this magical light

Even more than what people can handle

Always putting up a very strong fight

Such captivating and beautiful flame

With great strong illuminating powers

Your wild sparks no one can possible tame

It’s possible to go on for hours

Your flame makes everyone smile and laugh

But your endless light can annoy others

Those who try putting you down make a gaffe

Your humor can be a great bother

Ordinary candles aren’t like you

After all I guess you already knew

-Akatzin

 

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UNTITLED

Hopeless Emotion

Helpless Devotion

Blackout

Can’t See

Courage Dies

Confident Lies

Love is Care

Caring is Loving

At the End

You will Succeed

There will be a path

But you can make the decision

Give up

Or concern

-Talha

 

Student Blog

Brave New Voices – Angelique

 

Brave New Voices – All In All

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All In All

Like the feeling of a first meal,

I want to satisfy the justice of the people.

As great as the feeling of a first swim during a hot summer,

I want to refresh the minds of our future.

When you wish to wash away your dirt stains you use water,

I want to wash away the blood stains to stop the violence and make peace.

Like a mother’s kiss on your wounds to console you,

I will comfort lost souls and help them overcome the distressing obstacles of life.

The way a song can uplift even the most melancholy of spirits,

Is how I want people to feel when I speak.

Even as a painter can turn a blank canvas into a picturesque masterpiece,

I will change the world into a magnificent palace.

-Angelique