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Guatemala 2018

Our last full day in NYC

Technically it’s Saturday morning as I’m typing this up since we’ve been running around the city all day. My day started off with a morning run with Chase to the Williams borough bridge. He agreed to come only if we could make a stop to the donut shop : ) he got a vanilla bean donut.

For our last day of service, we all volunteered at God’s Love We Deliver. We broke into two groups and delivered food on foot. Our first delivery was my favorite client because she got really excited when she saw all five of us delivering her meal. The client’s face lit up as she thanked all multiple times for bringing her food. I loved doing deliveries because you’re delivering food to someone who might not have had a meal otherwise. Though the conversations were due to time, in many cases, we were the only people that the client might have seen for that whole day, which was heartbreaking. Everyone was super grateful as we delivered and we got to see a real Pablo Picasso piece and Sandra Bullocks house!

The rest of the afternoon was spent riding the Staten Island Ferry to see lady liberty and walking around the city. Most of us ventured to FAO Schwarz, a famous toy store where all of our inner children were unleashed. Nicole, Tiffany and Ashley danced on the piano and we hugged and pet all the stuff animals before we ventured off to the Metropolitan museum. The Met was definitely my favorite part of the afternoon.

It’s hard to believe that it is Saturday already. We all agreed the beginning of the week dragged on but the rest raced by in a flash. While we’re looking forward to the luxury of our own beds, were not ready to return to school or the cold.

I wish I could elaborate more on our last day but its 2 a.m. And I have yet to pack my suitcase!
Until tomorrow,
Nazek

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Don’t yuck someone’s yum

Today, Chase, Meredith, Taylor, Ashley and I spent the morning preparing goodie bags for the GMHC’s Wellness Day tomorrow. In celebration of National Nutrition Month, the GMHC is holding a conference for their clients. They’ll have acupuncture, yoga, stress management and cooking classes as well as a nutritious breakfast and lunch! The head nutritionist came in a told us how excited the clients are for tomorrow. We put together gift bags with a t-shirt, some body lotion and shampoo, and a granola bar.

The second half of the day was spent putting together safe sex kits. The two women leading the group covered a ton of new sex terms that are hip with the youth nowadays with only ones rule: we were in a judgement-free and could not yuck someone’s yum. The kits consisted of two female and male condoms, a dental dam, and flavored lube.

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Today was my first day at the Gay Men’s Health Club (GMHC) and it was absolutely wonderful. The GMHC is the leading provider of HIV and AIDS care, prevention and advocacy. The only criteria for being a member of the club was to be HIV or AIDS positive. We served lunch to the clients and after the first rush came through, I looked out at some at the tables and started to tear up. I was so moved to be in an environment that was know that was accepting and safe environment for on our lunch break, we sat and chatted with some of the clients. Jenny and I sat next to a man that shared some facts with us about how HIV is spread and some of the misconceptions that he actually had when he first learned that he contracted it. He told us he would only kissed his girlfriend on the cheek because he thought she could contract it. The thing he stressed the most to us was to only have protected sex.

After volutnteering, we headed to the 9/11 memorial. There are two fountain memorials in where the towers were, one on the north side and one on the south. Both had ledges above the fountain with the names of those who died inscribed into it.

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The skyscraper in the pictures is the new Trade Center that is being built.

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On the streets with God’s Love We Deliver

Today with God’s Love We Deliver (GLWD) Chase, Taylor, Meredith, Ashley, and I delivered meals to clients of GLWD in the Bronx, and throughout all of Manhattan. Each of us was with a different driver and delivered the meals to their doorsteps. Many of the clients I delivered to we’re of different socioeconomic statuses. Some lived in skyscraper apartments while others lived in very rundown public housing. On my last delivery for the day, I saw a sign by the elevator sharing info that the mayor and the city had decided to remove the low income housing to make room for some skyscrapers. It was called for a building wide meeting to come together as a community in order to save their homes. I find it heartbreaking that hundreds of people will probably be displaced from their homes in order for the city to build high-end apartments or just another skyscraper. They are gentrifying the neighborhoods. This is a very common reality in many big cities and too many times, it’s ignored. It really bothered me because our clients are home bound, unable to make food and many of their neighbors were elderly or were young families. They’d be displacing the most vulnerable people. The same people that we as a society should take care of.

For our late night shenanigans, we took the subway to see Radio City and climb to the top of the Rockefeller building and plaza. The top was absolutely breathtaking. There are no other words to describe the view of the whole city at night.

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Oshkosh? Wait, it actually exists?

That is the first thing everyone at God’s Love We Deliver asked us after they found out we were from Wisconsin. After reminiscing about their children’s bibs, most made a joke about a beer, brats, and of course cheese. Meredith, Courtney, Tiffany, Carly and I started the day with a short video about the history of the organization and how they serve the people. Once again, God’s Love We Deliver makes individually tailored nutritious meals for people who are too sick or unable to cook for themselves. It all started with one woman taking food to a man living with AIDS. The organization gets about 8000 volunteers annually and has never turned a person away or put them on a waiting list. All the services are provided for free and they also provide meals to their clients children and/or caregivers.

We were given hairnets and taken down to the amazing kitchen. all the staff and regular volunteers welcomed us with big smiles. We swapped stories as we prepared veggies, fish, and rice.

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Our after dinner agenda was debriefing and sharing our highs/lows of the day as well as our hopes for tomorrow. The group that went to the Gay Mens Health Club led an informational session about HIV and AIDS and progress the GMHC has made in the last 30 years.
The last mission of the night was to find sweet treats. Chase had his first taste of bubble tea, Kung Fu bubble milk to be exact, Courtney got some Red Date tea and everyone else indulged in some Italian gelato!

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GMHC day 1

Hey it’s Nicole! Today 5 of us went to the Gay Men’s Health Club (GMHC) where they specialize with AIDS/HIV testing for people of all ages and promoting information about the diseases. The wonderful staff and some volunteers spent the day with us telling us about their organization and the services they provide. We will be working alongside another Alternative Spring Break trip from Colorado State University.
One of GMHC’s largest fundraisers is the AIDS walk that takes place on May 19 and raised $6 million last year for their organization. There will be much more to come and I am looking forward to the next few days with this organization!!

Sunday fun day!

We started out the Sunday with a subway ride to Central Park.

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The sky was gray and the wind unrelenting but they didn’t deter us from sightseeing. We headed to the Grand Central Station for lunch on the ground as we admired the architecture and people watched. After lunch we headed to Time Square! Talk about stimulation overload! We saw The Good Morning America Headquarters, the giant Hershey’s chocolate store and multiple people having wedding photos taken. Hopefully we’ll be able to make it back during the week at night to sightsee some more

 

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Running around the city really made Chase tired!

We’ve finally made it to New York!!!

We’ve made it safely to NYC!!! We survived a name change, first time flier and a delayed flight. So when we arrived in Milwaukee, my name on my ticket was Zazek instead of Nazek. It was only one letter off but going through security with two different names was not something We wanted to risk. Thankfully, a lovely woman, Susan, worked with us for an hour to change the name of my ticket.

 

Unfortunately, we weren’t able to escape the snow. 15 minutes before departure, a stewardess informed us NY was getting the snow storm we had last night so we were delayed about an hour. Meredith came prepared with UNO and other card games to keep us occupied. And of course, as we boarded the plane, the sun finally started to poke through the clouds, sending us off in good spirits. It was Nicole’s first time flying and she handled it like a champ =)

 

The bright lights and bustling traffic kept us enthralled as our shuttle driver zipped through the crowded streets. We’re living in very cute apartments on the cusp of Chinatown and Little Italy. We feasted at Lombardi’s, famous for their pizzas and calzones. Afterwards, we split into two groups: half of us went grocery shopping for the week while the rest scoped out some dumpling places right by our apartment.

Tomorrow is our major sightseeing day so stay tuned to see our shenanigans around the Big Apple!

~Nazek

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