When I learned that the annual junior class trip was coming up, I did not even think twice about going. With piles of bills, I knew my family could never afford for me to go to New York and Boston. I was not even planning on mentioning it to my parents. But then a teacher shared about the fundraising opportunities available: a cheesecake sale, a catalog sale, and an extremely successful lunch at a local restaurant. I then asked my mom if I could go and she agreed that we could try. After nearly a year of selling fundraiser items to almost every person we knew, my mother paid my way and much more for the Junior Trip!
The week after school ended, I awoke at an early 4:00 in the morning to prepare to meet at school and travel to Atlanta for my first plane ride. Living in small “hick-towns” for most of my life, I had never had the means or opportunity to travel by plane. I had actually only been out of the South one time.
After about two hours of a smooth flight, we arrived in Newark, New Jersey and a bus picked us up to take us to New York. I was utterly amazed at the horrendous traffic between these two areas. It was truly unlike anything I have ever seen. I ate authentic New York pizza and ice cream (which I highly recommend). The rest of the trip’s meals consisted of Chinese/American combination buffets, which I would not recommend.
After my first subway ride (where I saw the most gigantic rat I have ever seen), we entered my favorite part of the entire trip: Chinatown. Being a school trip, I never would have guessed we would be allowed to enter any questionable stores that sold purses that were probably made illegally. But, our chaperones were obsessed with these handbags. We would walk into a store and then get quietly shuffled into another room hidden in the back, attic, or basement. After we all got inside, the door was locked and the bargaining began. A similar process happened in Battery Park after we got off the Ellis Island ferry. Another favorite place of ours was Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum. Here, tons of celebrities such as Brad Pitt and the Spice Girls were made into wax figurines, many of which looked amazingly authentic. Later on in the evening, I saw my first Broadway show, The Little Mermaid.
Aside from the funny parts of the trip, my heart was grieved when we came upon Ground Zero. I saw memorials, debris, and future plans for the site. Even after eight years, no tribute has moved me so much about the 9/11 tragedy as actually seeing the area did. Other historical places I saw were the homes of Louisa May Alcott and Mark Twain. We visited these places because we studied them in our curriculum the previous year. Also, our spring musical was Little Women so our group was a little more aware about the beginnings both of these things.
The last thing we did was ride a duck in Boston. A duck is a military vehicle that can move on land or in the water. Our driver wore a Viking hat and fur skirt. He also forced us to “quack” every time we passed another duck!
This was an amazing trip and it was sponsored by Smithsonian Student Travel. They did a wonderful job planning our transportation, lodging, food, and events. To get learn more about Smithsonian, go to their website at http://www.smithsonianstudenttravel.com/.
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