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New York as to the international influence

Washington D. C. is truly an international city, bested only by New York as to the international influence that the city has within its boundaries. This allows for a very diverse field of people in which to study and conduct my field research. In order to be able to be in contact with the widest range of people along with the highest concentration of people, I concluded that the two areas in which I will conduct my field research is at 1444 Rock Creek Ford Road and in front of the Lincoln Memorial or for the fact that I was making the security guards nervous, about a hundred yards to the side of the front of the Memorial.

Each experience left me with a new understanding of people as well as the realization that I am a people person and enjoy talking to new people and getting to know more about them. I was only saddened by the fact that some of the people that I did meet, due to time, distance and circumstances, I would never meet again. 1444 Rock Creek Ford road in Northwest Washington DC and resides down the street from one section of the Walter Reed Hospital. I picked this place because I have been here before as I visited a friend of mine multiple times in the past.

This allowed me to approach the residents of this apartment complex, with a bit less reluctance. Some of the people that I talked to were more open and friendly towards me than I know they would be with a complete stranger and that is what propelled me to this place. Also, the apartment complex is not unique in its physical attributes. Perhaps eighty people live there but of those eight, at least seventy, perhaps more, were born overseas. Many are from Northern Africa, South America and Southeast Asia.

I know two that are from America from a Caucasian background and the others are African American and Hispanic American. I know of no other place in the world, besides perhaps the General Assembly of the United Nations, in which such a wide array of people and nationalities are present in such a confined area and are willing to talk to me. Most of the residents speak English; though it is broken at times and hard for me to understand. This is the exception rather than the rule and I only ran into one person whose speech was hard to decipher.

The first person that I talked to was named Mitikia Taye. She grew up in Ethiopia, thirty minutes south of the capital; Addis Ababa. She is twenty two and is working at the Hilton Hotel in downtown Washington D. C. She is a front desk agent and has been working there for two years. There are six people who reside there that work at either The Capital Hilton, the Washington Hilton or the Jury Hotels. All three are five start hotels and only the highest conduct of its employees is tolerated. As a result, Mitikia carries herself very well.

She uses my surname when talking to me even though I said that was not necessary. She left Ethiopia when she was ten and came to America, to Fairfax, Virginia when she was ten. She moved to Washington D. C. when she was twenty and was able to quickly find a job at the Capital Hilton. She lives right across the hall from my friend and I have talked to her before this interview. I was happy to see her coming out of the front door and her and I walked together to the bus stop while we talked. She talked about her family and how much she missed them.

“I have not seen my father in four years. After my mother died, he went back to Ethiopia in order to help our people and the drought that was killing our livestock and family. ” Mitikia went into the Peace Corp when she was eighteen and volunteered in her native Ethiopia but ultimately, wanted to earn an education and that was what compelled her to come back. She says that once she graduates, she will return to Ethiopia. She is a genuine person and one that I wished that I saw more often The next person is named Sabar and he is a middle aged man from what I thought was Sri Lanka.

I had seen him around before but had never talked to him. He lives by himself and basically keeps to himself at all times. In the previous times that I saw him, it struck me that the man needed somebody to talk to, to befriend but in which he would never feel comfortable in making the initial move. I was not planning to talk to him and did not know his schedule. However, when he emerged from the front door, I knew that I had a chance. He was on his way to work and felt a bit uncomfortable to talk to me as well as the fact that it seemed as though I was keeping in step with him as he walked to work.

Once I realized this and understood his feelings, I backed off and was about to tell him to have a good day. However, before I did that, he asked me what I was doing this for and why I was standing outside of the building in order to talk to people. I told him and he seemed interested. We sat at the bus stop which is located right at the bottom of the street as the apartment building sits atop of a very steep hill. We talked and I found out that he was not from Sri Lanka as I had been told but that he was rather from Bangladesh.

We laughed at this and I was so glad that I had taken the time to talk with this man and befriend him. It almost seemed that if we continued to talk, he would invite me to his apartment in order to share some tea and continue this conversation. This would be a tremendous step for Sabar as I have not spoken to anybody who has even stepped foot in his apartment and those that learned that I had held a conversation with him for more than ten minutes, it helped others to reevaluate their opinion of this man who many had thought strange but was rally just shy and did not want to impose on anybody.

The third person that I talked to was named Yuliza and she was from Bolivia. In many Hispanic cultures, the mother’s name is given as the last name and the father’s last name, precedes it. As a result, Yuliza, with her middle name, had four names. I was told of a friend who was from America and had written on the envelope, only her first and last name. Yuliza knew who had sent this letter but wrote in big letters across the front: “Return to sender” as what had appeared on the letter was, in her opinion, not her name. She is strong willed woman and one that I never hope to cross.

I was a bit scared to talk to her but when she was the next person to emerge from the apartment, I took a deep breath and asked her what she was planning to do to day. She gave me a strange look and asked me why I should ask such a question. I told her that it was for a project at the university. She looked at me and wondered if I had some ulterior motive for asking such questions. I assured her that I had not but she did not believe me, uttered something in Spanish to me and walked off. I was just glad that the interview was over. The next person that I talked to was named Marie and she is from Ireland.

I had seen her before only once but was still reminded of her because of the fact that she wears a prosthetic arm where her left hand should be. I paid careful attention to where my eyes were, careful not to stare at the hand. She is a small lady, age of twenty one and also works at the Capital Hilton as a front desk agent. When I talked to her, it was 6am and she was on her way to catch the bus. She had just worked the second shift the night before and had only gotten home six hours before. She was very tired and was carrying her work clothes under her left arm and drinking a cup of coffee with her right.

I offered to carry her things and we talked for fifteen minutes. She was the last person that I interviewed from the apartment complex and had never been associated with such a wide array of different people. The next place that I went to was the Lincoln Memorial. I just love it there and knew that there would be a good amount of people there for me to choose from. It was 1pm, partly cloudy and the weather had called for a chance of rain. It would rain about three hours later but by then, my research had been completed. It was unseasonably warm that day so people were laying on blankets and resting.

The little boy of a family from Illinois started a conversation with me when he asked me what my name was and commented on the bright colored shirt that I had on. I enjoy talking to children and enthusiastically started a conversation with him. His mother soon followed and she was as friendly as her son. While we talked, I found out that she was thirty five and ran a group home for mentally handicapped adults in central Illinois in a town called Charleston. She told me that the quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys as well as the movie actors John Malcovich and Joan Allen both went to Eastern Illinois University.

She seemed very proud of her town and told me that her husband is the science teacher at the local high school there. They had a younger daughter named Ashley who was still in a stroller and seemed to be around 18 months old. I next talked to a very nice elderly couple from outside of Dayton, Ohio. They had been married fifty five years and the man had actually proposed to his wife at the Lincoln Memorial. The woman was so excited to tell me every detail about her life and about their children and grandchildren.

The husband seemed to be embarrassed as the wife told me every detail about his health conditions and just anything that you can imagine. I could not help but hold back a laugh when she told me that her husband, Robert, was going to have to go visit the doctor when they returned to Dayton because he was having trouble going to the bathroom with the new medicine that the doctor had put him on. Robert tried to interrupt her a couple of times during the conversation but it was obvious that nobody was going to tell this lady what to do and quickly told him to be quiet to which he complied.

By the time that we stopped talking, an entire hour had passed. I did not want to stop her from talking and just loved the fact that I had met such an interesting and open person. In the city, most people just go about their business and try to avoid contact with each other but this was not the case for Myrna. We exchanged phone numbers. I asked her if she had email but she told me that even though it was on her computer, she did not know how to use it and would make sure that her grandson would set it up for her.

The third person, or rather group that I saw was a group of kids in high school from Seattle who had come to DC as part of a field trip. There were roughly twenty five to thirty people in the group and for those that weren’t jumping around and acting silly, they served as an interesting group to talk with. It also made me wonder if I had ever acted the ways in which the majority of these students did. Did I ever get excited about anything that was comparable to what these students were feeling as they were visiting the nation’s capital?

It seems that the answer would be no and it made me wonder where that enthusiasm had gone. I resolved from this chance meeting, that I would try to find more things in this life that excite me. A passionate life, is a good life! They were taking a five day field trip since they were part of the Honors History club and as senior with excellent records in school as well as an attendance record, were able to miss the time from school. The teacher, Mr. Isome, had been a teacher at the school for twenty five years. His wife was at the school as well as an art teacher and they had been working together for the last twelve years.

Mr. Isome was also the head of the teacher’s union and told me, away from the students, that there was continued talk about the entire school district going on strike. While I was in high school, out school went on strike for over a month and I know how hard it was on the teachers and most of the students; at least the students that wanted to graduate and wished to enter college with the best education under their belt. By the end of the conversation, the storm clouds had come closer and it seemed as though a storm was imminent.

We recognized this and parted ways. I was glad that we had met and said goodbye to the students shortly thereafter. As far as the differences are concerned, there were a few. The main difference between the people that I met at the apartment complex was that I had seen some of those people before. I had not talked to them or befriended them but I had recognized them and they had with me. This allowed for an easier exchange of conversation as I never was very good at walking up to people and starting a conversation that I did not know.

The weather was roughly the same the interviews were conducted on consecutive days; unseasonably warm and a light breeze from the South. Another major difference with the people at the apartment complex, was that of the four that I talked to, all were immigrants and three were minorities. Yuliza did not talk to me and felt suspicious of my questions as if I was from immigration. The others were very friendly and open to my questions. The only catch was that I could not slow down their schedules and needed to talk with them while we walked.

This was not a problem and as we walked, it seemed more conducive to a friendly exchange of ideas and conversation. Everyone that I talked to, were either students or middle/working class individuals. Robert and Myrna, the senior citizens, had worked in a factory and had been a homemaker so they were middle class as well. It was something that I did not expect as I would treat a stranger coming and asking me questions to be a bit strange but six out of the seven separate interviews that I conducted, were met with friendly and engaging individuals and made this assignment run not only smooth and easy, but was enjoyable as well.

It helped me to break out of my shell and make an effort to get to know people that I would not have talked to otherwise. It reminded me of a neighbor that had lived across the street from the house where I grew up. When I went to visit him, I brought with me, this desire, which was derived from this assignment, to make sure that I talked to this man. He was at least 90 and lived by himself. Only after living across the street for fifteen years did I instigate a conversation with him. He was moving the lawn with one hand and holding onto his walker with the other.

I insisted that I cut his grass for him and we got to talking and I found out that I had been living across the street from a minor celebrity all these years. He had worked in radio in the 1930’s and 1940’s and had helped to produce some of the radio shows of that day which attracted all of the big stars. He had known Jack Benny, Bob Hope and Alice Faye who were the biggest stars of their day. It amazed me how much I had grown as a person and I could tell that he enjoyed talking to somebody who cared about what he had done, especially since none of his neighbors, or even his grandchildren, had ever hears of those people.

Except for the ethnicity of the individuals, there was little difference between those that I met at the apartment and those that I met at the Lincoln Memorial. Even though the Lincoln Memorial was a public place, there were many people there and I either waited for somebody to talk to me, as was the case with the young boy and to a small degree, Myrna, and a conversation would begin from there. None were rich and only Yuliza did not wish to talk to me. The people at the memorial were on their vacation and had no set schedule.

The people at the apartment complex, had seen me in the area before and were less reluctant to talk to me. Their ethnicity did pose as an impediment to me at all. Everyone had an accent but all spoke English well enough to the point where I could understand them. There were at least three people who resided at the apartment complex, who I knew, I would not be able to understand as they spoke little to no English. I was fortunate in the fact that the ones that I did meet, were all too friendly and was only going to be waiting for the bus if I had not intercepted their schedule.

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