The theme of Urban Immersion’s second day was “Global Humanity and Unity: Competing Desires.” Traveling into Manhattan, the Scholars experienced the lifestyle of different social classes, as well as the contrasts between societal goals for better overall life. The group arrived first at the Strand Bookstore in Union Square to complete their first challenge. Led by Mr. Rametta and Fellow Lindsey, the Scholars had to work together to make a purchase of children’s books with a $20 bill.
The catch? This was a Silent Challenge, meaning they could not communicate by speaking, and with just $20, they could not go over that price limit or under $19, forcing them to use the most of their resources, but also making communication efforts more difficult. Under the circumstances, the group performed very well, and finished in record time! It was a learning opportunity for all as they understood the constraints of money as well as struggles with communication from those of a different lifestyle.
At NYC’s iconic bookstore, The Strand, Scholars (silently) chose books for local children.
The next challenge, after upwards of 30 blocks of walking, was called the “Fixed Income Solidarity Lunch,” for which each Scholar was given only a $5 bill with which to find their lunch. With the ability to pool together their money, the group was able to successfully feed themselves, but also reflected upon the lack of options, as well as lack of nutrition in the inexpensive food they ate. Conversations about poverty, American agricultural subsidies, and contrasting lifestyles were sparked by this experience.
After lunch, the Scholars were surprised with a tour of the United Nations! Through this opportunity, the group was able to see where calls to action are born and carried out, learn more about the UN Sustainability Goals, and spark conversation about the realities of these goals, and how the goals of the UN contrasted with the challenges of the morning.
It was each Scholar’s first time visiting the UN Headquarters.
The most important takeaway from the day was that the Scholars were able to experience these kinds of “competing desires” first hand, through their challenges with monetary restrictions and knowledge gained at the UN, seeing where goals are made, worked for, and met by world leaders and people fighting for change to eliminate the kinds of struggles they encountered earlier in the day.
Lindsey Register, FCRH 2020
Manresa Programming & Marketing Fellow, 2017-2018