From June 10th to June 14th the IRF ’17s visited New York City in order to learn more about journalism, finance, and corporate law. The trip was chaperoned by IR Fellows Director David Rezelman and his wife, NA Middle School Latin teacher Lisa Marie Priddy.
On our first day in New York we visited one of the centers of the new frontier of internet journalism: BuzzFeed. Our host was International Relations Club veteran Ellie Hall (’07). Ms. Hall showed us around her shop and offered some fascinating comparisons between the culture at BuzzFeed and that at her previous job at NBC Nightly News (where the ’16s visited her in Washington two years ago). Our favorite fact: every conference room at BuzzFeed’s corporate headquarters is named after a different internet cat meme!
The ’17s at the entrance to BuzzFeed’s headquarters.
Following our visit to BuzzFeed, the IR Fellows Class of 2018 traveled to the Khyber Pass. Financial and security considerations ruled out a visit to the actual pass, so we settled for the East Village restaurant instead.
Afghan cuisine at the Khyber Pass.
Our visit to the Khyber Pass (Restaurant).
After a brief stroll through the campus of New York University, the ’18s were treated to a history of the Marcos family’s role in Filipino politics, as presented in the form of an interactive dance musical. No — really. Only then did the ’18s realize why Dr. Rezelman had at the airport that morning given them a seemingly-random lecture on mid-20th century Filipino politics. At one point we’re pretty sure we heard the D.J. urge all the theatergoers to “get down with the world leaders,” at which point dancers wearing masks of people like Ronald Reagan, Mikhail Gorbachev, and Muammar Gaddafi, began to “get down” with audience members. The experience was highly educational. No — really.
Basking in the afterglow of an interactive IR-related dance musical.
Alix Galumbeck (’17) picks up the narrative for Day #2 of our visit: “We started the next day with a meeting with Mack Kline, a Norfolk Academy graduate. He works for J.P. Morgan, a financial investment advisory firm. Mr. Kline explained that the company does not tell the client what to invest in, but instead, educates the client about the options and invests the client’s money in the options he or she chooses. Mr. Kline’s parting words were to find something about which we are passionate and pursue it.”
Hallie Griffiths (’17) thanks Mack Kline (’06) for explaining banking to us over coffee.
We then took a walk past the United Nations. (Our contact at the UN fell through, so we were only able to see it from the outside.)
The ’17s in front of the main United Nations building.
Alix resumes the narrative: “Next, we walked to Simpson, Thacher & Bartlett to meet Jon Zelig, an attorney and Norfolk Academy alumnus. He told us what it is like to be a lawyer in today’s world. Mr. Zelig also gave us a mini-lesson on how to be successful. He told us when making a career choice, ask someone ten years older than you for advice. Your parents are too old to advise on current career choices, and your peers are too young. A ten-year window allows a person to learn about today’s career climate and give good advice.”
The ’17s and Dr. Rezelman with Jon Zelig (’04) after our discussion of corporate law. Jon was the President of the International Relations Club during Dr. Rezelman’s first year at Norfolk Academy.
Alix continues: “After Mr. Zelig, we arrived at the Wall Street Journal. We met with Jason Bellini and Sara Shenasky. Mr. Bellini, a senior producer at the WSJ, gave us a tour of the facilities. He told us that to survive in the journalism field you have to get your foot in the door early. Journalism is quickly moving to online and video sources. You have to be able to summarize a current event in a sentence because people do not take the time to read a newspaper article. Ms. Shenasky, WSJ‘s Director of Global Events, plans major events for the WSJ. She stumbled into this job after trying many different things and she loves it. She encouraged us to explore many of our interests before deciding on a career.”
Jason Bellini shows the ’17s around the editorial offices of the Wall Street Journal.
The ’17s, Ms. Priddy, and Dr. Rezelman, at the headquarters of the Wall Street Journal.
Hallie Griffiths thanks Sara Shenasky for arranging our visit to the Wall Street Journal.
From there we walked to the southern end of Central Park, in part to continue the ’17s tradition of carousel riding.
Hallie Griffiths mugs for the camera during the ’17s traditional summer carousel ride (this time in Central Park).
Alix: “We ended the day with a fabulous Cuban meal. Nico had the ox tail, I had a fetal pig, and we all survived.”
Alix Galumbeck (’17) and Hallie Griffiths (’17) enjoy their Cuban dinner.
What Alix fails to mention, however, is that despite their chaperones’ prior warnings, several of the ’17s made the rookie tourist mistake of agreeing to pose for photos with various “cartoon characters” in Times Square, only to be hassled for money afterwards. It was almost — almost — as kitschy as the similar scene outside Brandenburg Gate in Berlin (at least in New York there are mostly muppets and Disney characters and no Star Wars Stormtroopers!).
The ’17s in Times Square (shortly before we were shaken down by a disreputable collection of Elmos and Minnie Mouses).
Our third day in New York began with a visit to the historic Eldridge Street National Landmark Synagogue. Founded in 1887, tours of the synagogue offer fascinating insights into the multicultural nature of 19th century immigrant New York neighborhoods (not to mention the stunning beauty of the building itself). The “American Dream” remains a powerful component of U.S. “soft power” in the world today.
The female ’17s pose in the “women’s section” of the historic Eldridge Street Synagogue while the male ’17s look on from the “men’s section” below.
Following this we visited the Lower East Side Tenement Museum, which offered more fascinating insights into the role of immigration in American history and its lasting influence on U.S. culture and foreign policy. We then took the subway downtown and visited the National September 11 Memorial. In the shadow of the newly-completed Freedom Tower, Dr. Rezelman and Ms. Priddy recounted for the students the events of that day. (The ’17s were only two or three years old on that day.)
Nico Moscoso (’17) and Luke Cromwell (’17) contemplate the 9/11 Memorial.
Our final destinations for the day were Federal Hall, where George Washington took his oath of office as the first President of the United States, and the New York Stock Exchange on Wall Street.
The ’17s on Wall Street in front of the New York Stock Exchange (and facing Federal Hall).
Alix resumes her narrative of Day #4 of our trip: “We embraced our inner tourist and walked in the rain to a boat tour of Manhattan Island. Little did we know it would be a fateful tour. Halfway through the tour, we learned our flight was cancelled. We would be forced to spend another night in the Big Apple. On the cruise we saw the Octagon, the first public mental hospital, Colombia University (founded in 1754), Harlem, Gracie Mansion, the mayor’s residence, the Brooklyn Bridge (one of the oldest suspension bridges in the United States), the Little Red Lighthouse (saved from destruction by fans of the children’s book), and Lady Liberty.”
Nico Moscoso (’17) and Luke Cromwell (’17) during the cruise around Manhattan Island.
Hallie Griffiths (’17) and Alix Galumbeck (’17) during the cruise around Manhattan Island.
Alix continues: “Then we walked along the High Line, a park built along an unused portion of the New York Central Railroad. With our additional night, we were able to explore another international cuisine: Korean food. Some of us experimented with squid, seaweed, and dumplings. Hallie had a unique experience with wasabi.
Everyone enjoys some Korean cuisine during our “bonus” evening in New York thanks to Delta Airlines cancelling our evening flight.
Alix: “We ended our adventure with a completely American event, The Shake Shack, for dessert!” Ellie Hall had introduced us to the Shake Shack on our first day, and given that there was one just around the corner from our hotel, we had to return one last time. Meeting fascinating people and visiting historic sites is all well and good, but perhaps the most rewarding times on trips like these are the conversations we have during relaxed “down time” over things like high quality ice cream!