By Lin Luo (China)
March 1, 2011, was not only an exciting day for me but a very special day for the International Center. Several members formed a special delegation that traveled to Albany that day to meet with New York State Senators. Elaine Roberts, the ISP Manager, led our group of 14 to the state capital. We had an early start, leaving by bus at 7:15 AM. During the three-hour trip, almost everyone slept on the bus, as we were so tired.
At 10:15 AM, we finally reached our destination. We were all very impressed with the buildings we saw from the bus as we arrived. They were huge and magnificent and all of the members were amazed to see what the state capital looked like. Elaine brought us into the buildings and we had breakfast at one special building called the ‘Egg Theater.’ We then participated in a big meeting – the New York Immigration Coalition’s 14th Annual Immigrant’s Day of Action.
We were inspired by the speeches we heard as their words were quite powerful and meaningful to all of us. One of the speakers, who was from Queens, said, ‘It is immigrants who created New York, it is immigrants who make New York so rich, and it is immigrants who support this state.’ When I heard these sentences, I felt so proud that I was one of the group.
About 1:30 PM, Elaine brought three of us, Wing, who is from China, Zoe, who is from Africa, and me, also a Chinese, to one of the State Senator’s office to discuss immigration issues with her. Two other people came with us, one was a lawyer and another was a manager of an institution. In a conference room, we introduced ourselves to the officer Kate Glazer who is the director of legislative affairs, and expressed our opinions and suggestions on how New York State could further educate immigrants. I felt so honored that I had this opportunity to speak directly to a State Senator. It is no exaggeration to say that in China, I would never get a chance to talk to government officials face to face. Quite the opposite, here in New York, I can say anything I want, I can make my voice and my opinions heard. Of course, the atmosphere in the room was casual, as it was not a formal meeting.
Then we came back to the Egg Theater and had lunch there. The tuna sandwich was delicious, and it was the most delicious bread I have had in America. While we had our meal, we watched some awesome shows. Some immigrants performed their countries’ traditional dances and played traditional instruments.
The last important thing we did was to visit the Capitol Building. Fortunately, we found a very nice and kind-hearted guide. He gave us a wonderful tour of the majestic Capitol. We appreciated the interior splendor of this great building, and not only were we astonished by all of the sculptures, paintings, and antiques, but we were also overwhelmed by the remarkable design of the Senate chamber. The chamber was designed by Henry Hobson Richardson in 1881 and I have heard that it has been acclaimed as his finest design.
Happy times always fly, and when it was time to go, we stood in front of the buildings, and could not bear to leave. From everyone’s face, I could see the same emotion – a sense of reluctance to go home. We all wish we could go back soon.