On January 7, a team of students took a trip less than a half mile away from the Rose Hill campus.
For GO New York, which lasted from Jan. 7-17, a team of ten Fordham students stayed at Our Lady of Refuge Rectory in Kingsbridge, and spent their time doing service work and visiting cultural sites around New York City. Their primary focus was the Bronx, which nine of them already call home.
For service, the team pursued several projects, including volunteering at an after-school program at St. Ann’s Church in Morrisania, helping Habitat for Humanity rehabilitate a house in Yonkers, and going on a midnight run to distribute supplies to the homeless. The group also walked the length of Park Avenue from 189th Street in the Bronx to 106th Street, to see the South Bronx up close, and attended a conference on gentrification in the borough.
Collette Berg, a senior environmental science major at Fordham College at Rose Hill, led the trip after participating in a GO trip last year in Mexico. For her, the simple act of visiting different locations every day was moving for her. The group strove to embrace global outreach’s four pillars of spirituality, social justice, simple living and community, and Berg, who chose the service sites for the trip, plans to continue to do service work upon graduation, with the Jesuit Volunteer Corp.
She said she hoped that working with a variety of service organizations would showcase the variety of opportunities for students who might not be sure what kind of volunteering they want to do in the future.
For instance, Food Bank NYC is a very structured, almost corporate operation, and they’re not religiously affiliated. Part of the Solution (POTS) soup kitchen is a lot more of a holistic, kind of community organization, and kind of religious, she said. On the other end of the spectrum, Catholic Worker is extremely social justice oriented and a lot less structured.
“There are so many ways of serving the community, and we wanted to discuss what speaks to us the most, and what we feel is lost when you do something in some particular way,” she said.
Jeff Coltin, FCRH ’15, the group’s chaperone, organized cultural visits to landmarks such as P.S. 1 in Long Island City, Edgar Allen Poe’s house in Kingsbridge, and The Point, a community center in Hunt’s Point that is also home to the graffiti group Tats Cru.
Coltin had traveled abroad before, to Alaska in 2013. The immersive nature of the trip made the biggest impact on him, as the group turned off their phones and limited their engagements to each other and their destinations for the day.
“I was riding the same subways that I ride every day to go to work, out to eat, and visit my friends, but even something as basic as riding the subway was totally different when I was on this trip,” he said.
“I didn’t have any work on my mind; it was a time to talk with people, or sit quietly and reflect and look at the other people on the subway. That’s something I never do. It helped me see different perspectives.
For Connor Mannion, a communications major from Philadelphia who was the lone team member from Fordham College at Lincoln Center, the trip was a way to learn more about the history and culture of city that he hopes to stay in upon graduation.
“All the time I’ve been at Fordham, I’ve had this vague feeling that I’m a tourist, and I’m not engaging with New York the way I should be if I’m living here,” he said.
Photos by Connor Mannion