When I decided to volunteer for a year of service, I hoped that I would…
The New York City subway system is completely unparalleled. During its peak, it carried over six million people daily. Even now, during the COVID era, it carries over two million people every single day. It travels to over 400 stations located across Manhattan, the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Queens. It winds its way under rivers, over streets, and everywhere in between. One can only imagine the infrastructure that underpins such a massive system on which so many people rely.
However, for me, it is not the infrastructure that makes New York City’s subway as unique and impressive as it is. What amazes me most about the subway is its ability to bring together people from all different walks of life, people going to so many different places, doing so many different things, having so many different dreams. It brings us all together for a few moments every single day, a brief conjoining of all our stories, cultures, and journeys, before we all disperse and go about the rest of our days. I think there are very few things in the world that can do that–very few things that can break through the system of segregation that we have set up in this world and create a space where people of all different backgrounds come together for a few moments. A place where people from every borough, as well as thousands of tourists and out-of-state travelers, are forced out of their own bubble and instead choose to sit next to someone from a completely different walk of life–someone who speaks a different language, believes in a different god, comes from a different social class. For a few moments, we all sit there together, all on our own journeys, but also all on a shared journey. Even if it is just for a moment, we get to be a part of each other’s stories. And sometimes I think that maybe, just maybe, if we do this enough, and build up a million of these little interactions, we will chip away at the barriers we have built and will all one day choose to sit next to each other even when it is not on the subway.
I greatly look forward to that day. For now, you can find me on the N train, soaking up the beauty that is the MTA.
Emma Ziegler: New York, New York