The final week of Summer in the City was incredible, with the students displaying amazing development in confidence, friendships, social skills, and executive functioning. We are always sad to see Summer in the City end, but it was a truly memorable experience for all of us!
We kicked off the week with a trip to the Guggenheim, an iconic New York City gem. The students really enjoyed the cylindrical architecture by Frank Lloyd Wright. After fully taking in the building, we delved inside to learn about the Italian Futurists. The students also were exposed to the permanent installations, including great artists like Wassily Kandinsky.
In Monday's skill-building session, students engaged in a short story exercise where they read and executed a story analysis of “Thank you, Ma'am” by Langston Hughes. Students learned about Hughes' intellectual and artistic talents during the Harlem Renaissance and how he was one of several African Americans who shared his story through literature after years of oppression. Afterwards, they participated in a roundtable discussion consisting of short question and answer exercises.
On Tuesday, students visited the Museum of Jewish Heritage where they were able to learn about the powerful living memorial dedicated to those who perished in the Holocaust. They learned about their traditions, achievements, and faith as well as the current vivacious Jewish community around the world that continues and upholds their legacy. Towards the end of the museum, the students looked over the water at the Statue of Liberty while hearing the testimonies of Jewish individuals who came to America during the Holocaust.
Tuesday's lesson involved a discussion of current events and the sharing of personal interests. Students discussed the events of the week including the Israeli-Palestine crisis, Ebola outbreak and the Michael Brown case. Students conversed about the importance of keeping up with worldwide events and also shared their own personal interests in specific areas.
On Wednesday, the group visited the Museum of Natural History. Students were thoroughly impressed by this New York City landmark that holds a collection of over 32 million specimens and artifacts. As a result of its size, even students who had previously visited the museum found new things to learn about. Specifically, the students enjoyed the model of the blue whale and other features in the Hall of Oceanic Life. Students were also captivated by the size of the Tyrannosaurus Rex.
Wednesday's lesson focused on budgeting, highlighting the costs of independent living. Students learned about the different costs and savings one has to deal with on a set income and how to manage spending during daily life.
On Thursday, students got to experience The Whitney Museum of American Art. Via the Jeff Koons exhibition, students were able to embrace and critique the work of a controversial and popular contemporary artist. Students observed how an artist could test the boundaries of traditional art by utilizing readymade objects and industrial goods. Students also saw how an artist could be raised to the status of celebrity and become so immersed in the global market, redefining and expanding the meaning of an 'artist'.
Thursday's lesson included a whip-around discussion where students expressed their “in-the-moment” feelings. Student also engaged in a poetry lesson and explored The Desiderata of Happiness poetry collection by Max Ehrmann. Students participated in a discussion revolving around the theme of Carpe Diem and what it means to seize the moment. At the end, there was a group poem exercise where students enhanced and employed their creative skills to contribute to a class poem.
On Friday, students enjoyed a fun day at Dave & Busters restaurant and arcade where they played a wide variety of arcade and video games. Students also bonded together and engaged in friendly arcade competition through games such as air hockey. In addition, they were able to enjoy the bright lights of Times Square and witness all the staple tourist attractions there.
Friday's lesson consisted of recalling memories and experiences that the students enjoyed the most. Above all, the students expressed how much their confidence grew, the progress made in executive functioning and the development of lasting friendships.