On October 9th, Newbury held its first annual City Lab. This all-day event, facilitated by both faculty and staff, consisted of guided tours of various musuems, historical landmarks, organizations and neighborhoods across Boston, instilling in our students a greater understanding and appreciation of the social, historical, political and economic conditions of the city. In the words of Dean Gordy, City Lab provides our students with "educational experiences that involve 'hands-on' learning and an opportunity to build the kind of relationships with faculty and staff that "have been demonstrated to improve student engagement and retention." She considered this first City Lab to be a major success, "both in terms of the number of students participating and the quality of the experiment."
As part of this college-wide event, our students were able to pick from a list of tours and visits scheduled throughout the day, which included the following:
- a tour of the Museum of African American History;
-a tour of the Institute of Contemporary Art;
- a tour of the Musem of Fine Arts;
- a visit to the Holocaust Memorial;
- the Boston Duck Tour;
- an architectural tour of Copley Square and the Boston Public Library;
- the Ghost Tour of Harvard Square;
- a tour of Southie;
- a tour of the John Adams Courthouse and the Freedom Trail;
- an Arnold Arboretum visit;
- a tour of the Omni Parker House;
- the WGBH studio tour;
- the Boston Public Market and Greenway tour;
- the Children's Hospital visit;
- a BU Art Gallery tour;
- a visit to Faneuil Hall and Quincy Markets;
- a meeting with Ameena Dye, Sponsorship Coordinator at Fenway Sports Management; and
- a hike through the Quincy Quarries.
Turnout for all these tours was high, and our students, as well as our faculty and staff, had memorable and enriching experiences.
Kate Pensak, a legal studies major here at Newbury, had the good fortune of participating in three City Lab activities - the John Adams Courthouse and Freedom Trail tour, the Holocaust Memorial visit and the Ghost Tour of Harvard Square. She began her day with a tour of the John Adams Courthouse, which afforded her greater insight into the judicial system and her future law career. She also relished her lunch with Dr. Pike and Dr. Konieczka.
After her tour of the courhouse, she visited the Holocaust Memorial, which she found to be a profoundly moving and somber experience, as it reminded her that "we need to be more proactive to prevent anything liket that from happening again." And, last but not least, she ended her City Lab experience with the Ghost Tour, which she'd "recommend to anyone who enjoys a bit of a fright." She was amazed by the stories of gruesome deaths and the lives of the individuals buried beneath her feet! Overall, she enjoyed her day of City Lab activities and would highly recommend these events to her peers!
Casey Cisero, Franc Paul and Amanda Payne also shared their memorable City Lab adventures. Casey, a sports management major, found meeting with Ameena Dye of Fenway Sports Management incredibly informative and appreciated learning about "corporate sponsorships and how companies worked with athletic programs to create partnerships."
Franc, a computer science major, was surprised by how much he learned from the Museum of African American History. Stepping foot in the African Meeting House and finding out that Frederick Douglas died one day before his birthday made this historical exploration feel more personal to him. Amanda Payne, a business management major, thoroughly enjoyed the Southie tour, as it made the memoir assigned to her HU100 class, "All Souls, come to life." She also learned more about Whitey Bulger and the criminal network he built in the neighborhood. All three students would highly recommend the City Lab activiites in which they participated.
Dr. O'Malley, who led the Southie tour and teaches HU 100, found City Lab to be an incredibly rewarding experience as well. He echoed Amanda Payne's view on the significance of visiting the setting of All Souls by saying, "Seeing in person the street--Patterson Street--in the Old Colony projects where so much of the drama unfolds made an indelible impression on the first-years." Dr. O'Malley also enjoyed showing students around historic Dorchester Heights and relating its essential role in the American Revolutionary War; pointing out South Boston High School, the site of protest and unrest during the busing crisis of the 1970's; and witnessing the students' fascination with seeing the locations "associated with the nefarious activities of the infamous James 'Whitey' Bulger, who is a looming, if distant presence in the memoir." City Lab was such a fulfilling experience for him as an educator that he is eager to guide this tour again next year and to offer even more experiential learning opportunites to our students. He not only found this experience rewarding as an educator but also as a participant, as the tour reconnected him with the neighborhood where his grandfather grew up. Dr. O'Malley was "moved to be walking and teaching in the streets where he lived, went to school, and worked when he was a kid."
Fellow facilitators, Amy Downing and Matthew Qualter, were likewise touched by the students' reactions to the City Lab activities and affected on a more personal level. Ms. Downing, who was one of the facilitators of the WGBH tour, was impressed by how attentive and engaged the students were and by the professional manner in which they networked with the WGBH staff. She, as an individual, was delighted to see the inner workings of WGBH and to witness the filming of a live segment.
Mr. Qualter, who helped facilitate the visit to the Holocaust Memorial, felt this visit allowed our students to become "more aware of their past and present so that we can prevent genocides from occurring in our future." He, himself, was moved by the unspeakable hardships faced by Holocaust survivor Hersch Altman, father of Newbury's own Roz Abukasis.
Students, faculty and staff alike found City Lab to be an enriching experience, one they look forward to participating in next year!
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