re-appreciation (and why america is great)

{from my NY journal during my summer 2010 internships.  i originally started writing this the day after the 'statue of liberty' post. then i was going to publish it on july 4, 2010, in light of the holiday. however, things got just a little crazy, and i totally forgot about it! so now, a year later, enjoy ellis island with me!}

this is part II of our day-trip to the statue of liberty and ellis island. this is...well, the ellis island part.

i wasn't honestly sure what ellis island really entailed, even after we hopped on the ferry to get there after visiting the statue. however, during our small journey on the boat between the two, the automated voice in the speaker informed me that it was the island that all the immigrants came through to get to America. "imagine," the too-cheerful female voice invited, "that you were one of those people, coming to this country. can you imagine the shock and excitement it would be to see this, the manhattan skyline, rising up above the waves? after all that time traveling, this is what you saw...."

and i started to imagine. and then i got excited.

we got to the island, and headed to the museum (shown in the above photos). the inside of the museum looked like this:

we toured it early in the day. first, we watched a small movie explaining the significance of the museum and the island, which was awesome. you can actually find it by clicking here! ah, how convenient. you are currently thirty minutes away from a great education of our history.

natasha and i stayed to tour the museum thoroughly before we left, and i'm so glad we did. completely packed with historical, thought-provoking information, it turned out to be a huge highlight of my first adventure in new york. the museum was formatted to be something of a time-line in photos and other memorabilia. the walls in the rooms went through different categories.

leaving home, the journey, transportation, living conditions on the journey, etc....

i loved seeing all the gigantic photos depicting the stories. they also had a bunch of postcard-sized pictures of the ships that the different groups came on. one of my favorite parts was the passports. there was a whole area just filled with framed passports. for some reason, this kindled a great longing to love these people who'd gone before me, these people filled with such hope for a better life. i think the reason was, that i realized these passports had really belonged to them. specific people. i studied these passports, with both their handwriting and photos. (their handwriting was beautiful--i'll spare you the tangent along the lines of my sadness that handwriting is being lost these days...for a different post).  to me, it was just so cool--that many years later, i could be looking at these, the original copies of important things that belonged to these individuals.

the history continued through the walls. the arrival to America, the adjustment, the oppression and racism...

this part really saddened me, especially after building intangible connections to some of these people. this was America...they had given up so much to be here. it's so unfortunate how such small things can tear great things apart so easily.

the walls went on: living conditions on land, making a living, politics, diversities....

i really appreciated how many different cultures were represented in this museum. there were many quotes and photos of and from individuals, depicting their journey. just like new york today, one common goal can bring together people that may not have found each other in any other way.

the captions continued: the 'go-betweens', the new immigrants, the womens' rights activists, and finally the immigrants of today.

lovely natasha and the womens' rights wall

{okay, here's the fun part: another reason i didn't post this until now was because i started making a little movie of some of the pictures i took. i started making it..last year. between my crummy point-and-shoot and the fact that i can barely navigate the unintuitive movie program on my computer, it's hardly a cinematic wonder. BUT. i'm pretty proud of some parts of it, and it's more interesting than just posting all the pictures. either way, it helps me remember how i felt at that museum; hopefully you can get a taste of it too, until you visit for yourself. the post would have been done earlier today, but after creating it, uploading took oh, all of 5+ hours, then glitched. and now you know how i spent the rest of this holiday...anyway, it had to be compressed for the interwebs, which i didn't consider, so you might have to pause it to read some of the quotes. sorry! but...enjoy!} :)

i came away from the museum with a lot of fresh thoughts and a lot more respect and appreciation for both my freedom and my country. i felt my long afternoon was well spent and it helped me remember why America is so great. i am so fortunate!

happy fourth. :)

1 comment:

--jeff * said...

seriously dang awesome.

thank you to your family for not getting to see you as much as they would have liked to yesterday, but that video was definitely worth the (disproportionate) amount of time it took.
really great photographs, no real compression issues (except for the opening quote, everything else was very easily readable), and i think my favorite part was the video section in the middle. getting to look around the museum with you was really cool and made it more immediate for us.
and i agree with you, seeing those passports was particularly awesome and meaningful.

it took a year to get here, but this post was worth it. thank you!

(i also agree with you about the sad loss of the art of penmanship; i think a post is in order)