Staten Island is the smallest of the five boroughs of New York City. As a native New Yorker, one would think that I have visited Staten Island many many times. This in fact, is not the case. Before my trip last week on the Staten Island Ferry, I had never visited all five boroughs. That’s right, I had never been to Staten Island! The Staten Island Ferry is the last of the original ferry system that was used since the 18th century to transport people between Manhattan and the other boroughs before bridges were built. So one can imagine that I was just as excited as the participants who accompanied me and my fellow colleague on the trip.
Fleet week was a perfect time to go on the Staten Island Ferry. Leaving Manhattan, we sat on one side of the ferry and decided that we would sit on the other side on our return trip, making sure we didn’t miss anything. It was quite hot as the ferry left the dock. The breeze from the ocean felt amazing. I couldn’t believe it. I was actually on the ferry going to Staten Island! The participants were from many different countries: Iceland, Lithuania, Ireland, Russia, and Australia. None of them could believe that this ferry ride was actually free of charge! They all exchanged stories of the places they had traveled, and of their excitement to start their jobs soon through the Work & Travel USA program.
When we arrived to Staten Island, we decided to debark from the ferry and explore. The participants were intrigued by the beautiful architecture of the surround buildings. As we headed back to the ferry, they started high-fiving each other, as a show of camaraderie and newfound friendships.
Many times throughout our trip, there was one participant in particular who expressed his yearning desire to see the Statue of Liberty. On our way back to Manhattan, he exasperated “I must see the Statue of Liberty”. “Look!”, I exclaimed. He turned around and there she was. Lady Liberty in all her glory. He was so excited as our ferry inched closer and closer. At one point, we were so close that we could even see the people on the island. What a wonderful note to end the journey on! We definitely did save the best for last.
After the ferry ride, the participants were so pumped up and wanted to explore even more. I told them that InterExchange would be highlighting many more cultural events all throughout the season. They were overjoyed. The only thing left for them to do was sign up!