“In New York concrete jungle where dreams are made of, there’s nothing you can’t do, now we’re in New York. These streets will make you feel brand new these lights will inspire you, let’s hear it for New York, New York, New York.” I can listen to this song from Jay-K and Alicia Keys on any given day of the year and it will take me back to the first time I went off on an adventure.
On the eighth of June in 2011 I boarded a plane that would take me from a tiny little island in the Marianas to the massive land that sits between South America and Canada. I was headed to Washington D.C. for a little over two weeks. While there I visited a few places. First up, on the bus we get down and from this point it looked as if someone had taken this landscape straight out of a painting and put it right behind the clean sleek built memorial of Martin Luther King Jr. I entered the memorial seeing first huge stone walls surround to the left and right of me. As I looked even closer these walls were carved with quotes from other peace activist of this time. In the middle was the great tribute to the Dr. himself, Martin Luther King Jr. emerged from white stone and appeared as more of an inspiration to me than ever. He once said, “ I was a drum major for justice, peace, and righteousness,” this was a man who envisioned a nation that would work together without violence and share the blessing we have as individuals equally. He was a great man.
Before making my way to New York City, I had the chance to experience World War II, Germany. I visited the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. When I walked up into the line that would lead me to the museum, I could feel the chills make their way up my arm. I was about to see something I hope to only read about in my lifetime. All along the walls of the lobby were red brick buildings or so it appeared. I stopped at the elevator to pick up my booklet with a woman and background information of her and her life before and after the war took place. When I made my way through each from I came across a walkway with a stench like no other. I looked closer through the large glass dividers and saw, it was shoes, shoes of people who were tortured, and stripped of their dignity. I had left with the feeling of freight. Everything I had laid eyes on put to shock, however; one thing I saw could have easily been the most beautiful, or the saddest thing I had ever seen. I walked onto a bridge into a high ceiling room with a wide variety of portraits of people. Knowing that all these people had lived in a time of hostility made me cringe suddenly I felt as if I was the child starving and laying with a thin piece of material to cover my body while it was winter. It hurt. I felt as if I were a parent who couldn’t explain to their children why this was all happening. It ends there, with only imaging what it must have been like, but I will never forget.
I couldn’t believe the amount of emotions playing through my head, by the time I realized what was going on, I was in New York. Ah, the city where dreams are made from, I could feel how rich this city was. That though had nothing to do with, the huge presence of Wall Street being conveniently there or by the fact you could see fashion at its finest. This dirty grimy like place with buildings that appeared somehow beautifully rundown, were the reason for its rich appeal. I went down by the river and hopped onto a ferry, I was headed to Ellis Island. This is a place you may remember from the movie Hitch, when Will Smith took Eva Mendes on a date. If that is not where you can recall this place from, then I can definitely say Ellis Island is a passage for the immigrants to making a better life for themselves in America. I stepped off the ferry and here it was this breathtaking building completely surrounded by the water. The first thing in my view was luggages, there were big ones, small one, briefcase like ones, and they all had something in common. The luggages were symbols showing just how strong a vast amount of people were. They left it all behind for a life of uncertainty. They didn’t know that they would be forced to work long hours and barely afford ends-meat; they didn’t know that they would be subjected to live in a small apartment with ten other families. That’s what makes them all brave, because they made that sacrifice.
I had an epiphany. They all wanted something similar, people from the 1800s, the 1930s, and the 1960s. They wanted to be treated fairly. They wanted our social class not to matter or become completely irrelevant because we would be equal. We wouldn’t have to work strenuous hours, or wear stars that indicated our difference in beliefs, or standing at the back of the bus because you were colored. Alicia knew what she was singing, you feel brand new and the lights inspire you. In this city of New York that is exactly what I felt. I was inspired and that is why I can own up to the fact that I am a second class citizen.
I am from the island of Guam, where we do not have the chance to vote for a leader who will represent our thoughts and views to the country. I am a second class citizen of a place that wants us to be seen and not heard. I will not let my troubles be the reason why I do not succeed. I will not be afraid to be heard and seen. One day I will leave my luggage behind, so that people will see that, I have left my worries, for a new beginning and prevailed.