Tuesday, December 22, 2009

A Rwandan in the City for Christmas

Three days in NY/NJ for the first time - What to do and what to see?!

I returned from my trip to Nicaragua at 1am yesterday full of stories, videos and pictures of water projects in the rural countryside and income generation projects by the HIV/AIDS group I’ve worked with through the years. They are inspiring, insightful and informative but won’t be featured until the coming weeks. There are several reasons why, including Christmas travel, but a main reason is a special guest. A guest that I hope you’ll help me welcome with ideas.

When I was researching in Rwanda, a Jesuit named Pierre Cornielle Namahoro welcomed me to the country with open arms. He became a teacher and a friend willing to discuss the history, politics, and culture of his homeland. I would meet his younger brother Jean Luc during one of our road trips into the countryside. Given my propensity to interact with locals and start games for kids, Jean Luc became part translator and part photographer. The children quickly multiplied as the “Muzungu” (Whitey) started juggling and tossing balls to be caught.

Now it is a year and a half later and Jean Luc has been studying engineering and telecommunications at the University of Arkansas as a Presidential Scholar – a joint program by the US and Rwandan governments. He is visiting my family in NJ for a week – mostly to spend Christmas but also as his only chance to see New York City.

Yesterday coming out of the airport he was introduced to snow and was so taken by the “cold ash” that we went sleigh riding at night with my younger siblings before an authentic Italian dinner. Let’s face it Arkansas’ ethnic food can’t hold a candle to NJ and NY. For dessert we had a snow ball fight and my sister taught him how to make a snow angel.

So here is the question! If you had a few days in New York City and New Jersey what would you suggest are can’t miss things to do or see?! Pizza? Chinese food? Street Vendor hot dogs or chestnuts? Hot cider? An I Love NY winter hat? Let me know what's memorable for you. Below I have our itinerary… please leave your remarks, ideas, suggestions as comments – Thank You!

Museum of Natural History
Central Park
Times Square
KNICKS Game (my Christmas gift to Jean Luc)

Ground Zero
United Nations Tour
Rockefeller Center & St Patrick’s Cathedral
Metropolitan Museum of Art??? (good idea or something else?)

Statue of Liberty
Ellis Island


Steve said...

That's a solid lineup you've got there.

Vanessa said...

Priceless picture! You should take the George Washington Bridge in/out of the city. Don't know if he's ever seen one so big.

Anonymous said...

Very full agenda but Jesuits are strong. Why not a visit to Harlem to see some of the African American experience of NY; the Native American museusm on the Battery is great and also free.


Marco Ambrosio said...

That is a great idea... i'll take the GWB in and the Lincoln Tunnel out - both will be a new for Jean Luc


Marco Ambrosio said...

I've been filling him in on the varying experiences and realities within NYC - so a visit to Harlem would be interesting... on that note Chinatown or Little Italy or Spanish Harlem would demonstrate the ethnic enclaves that I have been telling him about...

Okay I am off. Thank you Terry for the perspective

Michelle said...

You have a great lineup... hmmmm trying to remember this amazing Italian restaurant not too far from the Met... when I remember will let you know. Don't forget to bring him to Macys for the live Carolers! I always loved the Mother Cabrini Shrine that is right kiddy corner from the SI ferry. If you can, stop in to see Fr. Jim Martin. He lived in Africa & is so amazing....

Dave S said...

take your friend to the BKLN bridge then Grimaldi's for pizza. Maybe Katz's deli? oh, and Grand and Warren.