by Jill Robinson
People scurried around us like ants as my colleague and I stared blankly at the signs in the New York Subway. We were minor obstacles in the way of the transit riders that seemed to have a much better grasp on the 1,2,3,S,A,B and C lines we were trying to decipher, and our suitcase full of volunteer abroad brochures was making it hard to make any sudden movements.
This wasn’t the first time we had traveled to New York, but it always amazes me the overwelming feeling I get trying to figure out the maze of subway lines, that sudden lurch of anxiety that we boarded the wrong side of the platform and were now speeding toward Battery Park instead of our Columbia University destination on 116th. It’s wonderful to be hurled out of your comfort zone, senses on full alert. We might not have been on an overseas adventure, but it offered us a quick fix for now. On our way to Idealist’s Global Volunteer Fair, we were hoping to inspire potential volunteers to embark on a travel experience of their own.
We set up in Barnard College’s Lefrak Gymnasium, one among around twenty-five other volunteer organizations, and people began trickling in around 6 p.m. To see a gym full of people wanting to find out how they could make a difference, was really inspiring. Many inquired about volunteer projects that focused on community building, medical assistance and working with children. One woman, who majored in dance, wondered how she could share her passion and teach a class in an orphanage.
Idealist’s Global Volunteering Fair continues on to Philadelphia this Wednesday. After we sample the New York style pizza tomorrow and take in Central Park we are headed to Philly where you can bet I will indulge in some more local cuisine before meeting at the University of Pennsylvania on the second of three stops this week.