Sunday, March 9, 2014

Day 4 of SMWC Choir Tour: Rehearsal, Remembrance, and Reconnecting

We are making the most of our moments here in New York City. Because of the time change, we ended up getting on the bus by 8:00 a.m. (which felt like 7:00 a.m. due to the time change) to make sure the choir was a few minutes early for their morning rehearsal. While the students rehearsed at Park Central Hotel, the rest of the group dispersed to different areas of Manhattan (some went to the top of the Empire State Building, while others returned to Central Park to try out the Boathouse Restaurant for appetizers and coffee). Because rehearsal went to 12:30 p.m., the group ate various snacks and food which were provided on the bus (Thanks also goes to Jessica Schmidt of SMWC who helped contribute to the food holdings!) as they headed down to the 9/11 Memorial, arriving ahead of their 2:00 reserved time. The security was high, as one would expect, but very efficient and fast. Michael was constantly counting and recounting everyone to make sure the group stayed together!

South Tower Memorial

The Survivor Tree
The 9/11 Memorial is outside, and occupies 8 of the 16 acres of the World Trade Center (source). There are identical reflecting pools with waterfall features flanking the entire expanse of the pool. In the center is a smaller square in each pool, through which the waterfalls continue to cascade down. The names of each victim from both the 1993 WTC bombing and those from the 9/11/01 attack are engraved around the perimeter of each pool. There are spaces where the names are engraved, providing a place for loved ones to leave flowers in remembrance of those lost, often on their birthdays and other important holidays. The sense of loss can be felt as one watches the water flow swiftly down the sides of the pool and into the smaller hole...possibly symbolizing the falling which occurred in those places, as the towers fell. The somber feeling of the place impacted the students, and it was evident on many faces. It is hard to believe that most of the students on the trip were in elementary school (1st through 5th grade) when this event occurred.
Freedom Tower 
Hope was evident, though, in the rainbows which were seen as the sun reflected on each pool of water. The mist that rose up and blew in the wind was akin to a release of pain and sadness giving way to an optimistic future. And, standing between the the site of where the two towers stood was a tree, called The Survivor Tree. While all other trees in the vicinity were completely demolished during the event, the Survivor Tree lost its top portion. The stump that remained was salvaged from the rubble, nursed back to health, and new limbs sprouted from the stump. The limbs are smooth and markedly different from the rest of the tree, and is a visible reminder of the events of that day. The tree is now a symbol of resilience and hope, of survival and the circle of life. As the guide who was present described the destruction and how the towers fell, he also spoke of the tree which was blown over in the blast at St. Paul's Church, not far from building 5 of the WTC. The tree root was large and many believe it protected the church from destruction and, in effect, allowed it to become a major center for rescue workers and first responders. All of these stories and symbols do not take away the atrocities of that day (and the aftermath), but they do provide comfort and a sense of peace that hope can sustain through even the worst experiences.

Subway adventures!

Following the Memorial visit, the group took the subway back up to Times Square where several managed to secure discounted tickets at the Tickets Booth located there for Broadway (such as Chicago and Avenue Q) and off Broadway shows. There was a little free time and then everyone headed to John's Pizzeria on West 44th Street in the Theatre District for dinner with alumnae, President King, the SMWC Student Life-Sponsored Trip, and several SMWC staff and Cabinet members. The New York style pizza as a buffet provided everyone an opportunity to sample a variety of different kinds of pizza before heading off to various entertainment planned for the evening. For those without specific plans, some chose to find areas out of the windy and cold evening (such as the lower level of Rockefeller Center) to sit and relax (a few have discussed the fact that we all should have worn pedometers to measure the actual distance walked in just three days!).

A highlight of the dinner was the presence of Sister Marie Brendan, who is a former Director of Choirs (she started the Madrigals!) and truly solidified the legacy and choral traditions upon which Michael Boswell (and of course Sr. Sue Pietrus, his predecessor) continues to build today.

Architecture abounds: The roof of our pizzeria!
The Choral Tradition of SMWC continues...

Teachers and students: Such a special bond

More photos from the trip to enjoy:

Many hours on a bus together =
a level of goofiness which is hard to define
Returning from seeing Chicago, the Musical!

Photo Credit: Aleah Wieland (from Day 3!)

1 comment:

  1. Love the blog--glad to see the photos--want to hear your voices!