Subway Dreams: Disability, Inclusion, and Identity in New York

Paras blog headshotPosted by John Gardner Fellow Paras Shah

Gazing intently at the sign does not yield clarity. The illuminated white letters remain tantalizingly obscure against their black background. This would not typically frustrate me. After all, since I am legally blind, I encounter the situation, and others like it, daily. At restaurants, movie theaters, and street corners, posted signs present obstacles to circumvent. Tonight, however, I am in a hurry and eager to escape a late summer rain shower. Eventually, I pull out my phone and snap a picture of the sign, “14th Street Uptown and Queens” it reads. Perfect, exactly where I want to get on the subway.

I consider my options while descending the grimy staircase. Faint smells—urine and cigarette smoke mixed with perspiration—swirl up from three levels of subterranean train platforms, an end-of-the-workday greeting. Decisively, I remove my white cane from the gym bag slung across my shoulder, carefully assemble it, and walk along with this symbol of difference, of otherness, moving from side to side in front of me. The transformation manifests instantly. People move out of my way, three commuters pause in their evening journeys to offer assistance, and two elderly women, their efforts full of good intentions, link arms and guide me toward the wrong train.

View from the 102nd Floor of the Empire State Building in New York

View from the 102nd Floor of the Empire State Building in New York

Me at the Empire State Building in New York

Me at the Empire State Building in New York

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Life in the Fast Lane

 

Lucy headshot for blogPosted by Matsui Washington Fellow Lucy Song

To be honest, when I first landed at the Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, I really did not have a clear idea of or much expectation about how my semester in D.C. would unfold–after all, I have never been to America’s national capital or seen much of the East Coast at all. But fast forward a month, I think my life in D.C. has unraveled in the luckiest way possible so far–I am absolutely loving my internship at the Wilson Center and got the chance to explore many facets of D.C. through going on food adventures, attending incredible seminars and talks, and exploring museums/being an overzealous tourist in general.

As someone who is thinking about going to graduate school, I wanted to learn more about scholarly research by interning at an academic think tank. And my internship at the Wilson Center is really facilitating my interest so far. I spend my internship days reading cool primary sources such as Chinese newspaper clippings from the 1970s, discussing and exchanging ideas with scholars, and summarizing reading materials. It also feels great to be surrounded by other friendly interns at the Center who have similar interests. Being in a think tank, I’ve had the chance to attend many seminars and talks on topics ranging from law reform to the Iran Deal to U.S.-Spanish counterteorrism cooperation (featuring the King of Spain!).

Taking the Metro after work

Taking the Metro after work

 

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Navigating the Capital: Tales of Ozi in DC

Ozi for blog

Posted by Matsui Washington Fellow Ozi Emeziem

Part One- Arriving in a New Place & Discovery of a New Space!

The days leading up to my departure seem so surreal… Between classes, final projects, and preparations for my trip, I haven’t had the time to sit and think about the fact that I will be relocating in a few days. I am a Libra and change has never been comforting. I enjoy the way things are, how I know things to be, I live in the past, and the idea of evolution, transformation, renewal…it does not necessarily enthuse me. Rather, it scares me. It is the unknown, nothing that I can ever efficiently be prepared for because I have no clue as to what I am truly preparing for. As a Libra, one of the major concepts that I must overcome is my fear of change; I must learn to embrace it instead of run away from it and as my senior year arises, there are a lot of changes in store for me. Continue reading