After coming back home from this trip, I feel like I came home a new person. I feel that I have a new and better perspective on what I want to do in the future, especially with college. This trip has opened my eyes and made me appreciate the city much more than I did in previous times that I have been to New York.
There were many highlights for me throughout this trip. It was very fun from the moment we got to the airport, to the moment where we all said goodbye when we arrived back in Hawaii. I remember getting off of the plane and just seeing all of my fellow castmates so excited to be, well at least close to New York, because at the time we were still in Jersey. We then went on a bus tour of the city, which was super fun. I sat by Kylie on the way there and just seeing her excitement and joy of being in New York was just amazing. The tour of the city was very fun, we all took many photos of the tall buildings and many stores and sites that we were seeing. Granted, after we ate lunch at the Essex Cafe and Deli, more than half of us fell asleep for about an hour on the tour.
When we finally arrived at the hotel, I remember it being pure madness. There were tons of cameras and flashing lights and girls with their cellphones out waiting to see someone. It turns out that there was a Bollywood awards show happening and some of the stars were staying at our hotel. So throughout the entire week that we were there, it was crazy. Security was checking to see if you had your room key to verify you were an actual guest, and crazy fans waiting to meet their idol surrounded the lobby.
I couldn’t quite pick one specific place that we ate to talk about because we ate so many different foods and at different places. One of my favorite places that we ate at was Brasserie. I had the salmon tartine and it was delicious. We also ate at Junior’s Diner three times and each time I had a coffee ice cream soda, which was to die for. I also accomplished my goal of not eating one, but THREE lamb gyros over the course of the trip. The best gyro that I ate was at Adam’s Halal Truck, where the hot sauce is really hot. However, the Halal Guys Truck had the best chicken and rice bowl, which I of course flooded with the yummy yogurt sauce that they have on the side.
At Ellen’s Stardust Diner, the performances overpowered the delicious food there. I had the steak and eggs with a s’mores milkshake, which was amazing! We were blessed to have Halle as our waitress. Not only was she a wonderful performer, but her boyfriend is from Hawaii. Just having that connection made the experience that much more wonderful. I think we all enjoyed ourselves at the diner and it was a great experience.
Another highlight for me would be meeting Eric Andersen from Waitress and being able to meet some of the cast members from Kinky Boots. Eric was so kind and gracious and brought us backstage to take pictures and sign autographs. We even were able to take pictures by the diner set. Then two days later, we were able to meet many members of the cast of Kinky Boots. It was cool to meet them because they knew all about us. They read our blogs, watched videos on us, and even looked at pictures. So, I felt that it was a very personable meeting. I also got to meet J. Ghee Harrison, who played Lola in the show. He was AMAZING!! And I was so honored to have been able to have met him.
The 9/11 Memorial Museum was definitely another highlight for me. When I first started walking through the museum, you hear recordings of people telling how they remember that day. Just hearing those voices and the stories, it sent chills down my back. Another section of the museum was a memorial for all the people that lost their lives on that day. Each person had a plaque with their name and their photo. You could go to the digital screens to hear a personalized story for some or just see more photos of any specific person. Also in that section, there was an ongoing obituary. Lastly, the last portion of the museum amazed me the most. There were many primary evidences of the disastrous day, and just being able to see, hear, and watch everything was just so sad. I am glad that I was able to go and learn more about what happened that day.
Touring NYU and Juilliard was another highlight for me. NYU especially was a major eye-opening highlight for me because that has been my dream school ever since I was in the seventh grade. So, to have the opportunity to be able to take an in depth tour was just so exciting for me. I learned about the amazing options that NYU has with studying abroad and I hope to go there one day. Juilliard was also really cool too. I learned a lot about the audition process of getting in and how their campus works. Tony, our tour guide was really cool and gave us a lot of advice on going to Juilliard and his story on how he got in.
The Broadway workshop and the cast dinner with Miss Saigon was my number one highlight. On our second day we had our workshop with Sam Strasfeld from Miss Saigon and a pianist Jeffery. The workshop in itself was super fun to be able to learn a new song that none of us knew and learn the actual choreography that they do in the show. We were also able to sit down with them both afterward and we were able to ask them questions. I feel like Sam gave the greatest advice that I will carry with me throughout the rest of my life. He said that you should always be a nice person, help out, and be one step ahead, regardless of whether it's for an audition or a job interview. He said that people remember if you are a good person and they’ll then remember you for another job if you didn’t get the original one you auditioned for.
Then, a couple of days later we went to HB Burger to eat dinner with Sam Strasfeld and Lina Lee. It was nice to see Sam again and to talk a little more one on one about the industry and how he got to where he was. Lina, was also super nice and bubbly. She gave great advice and she explained how Miss Saigon is her first Broadway show and the process that it took to get where she is today. We then went to go see Miss Saigon and it is now my favorite musical ever. I loved the story and Lianah Sta. Ana was AMAZING as Kim!! I cried so much and I enjoyed it a lot. After the show Sam and Lina met us outside the stage door where they signed autographs and took pictures. We also got to meet most of the cast too like Billy Bustamante (The Engineer) and Elie Rapada (Tam). It was an honor to meet them and I am so grateful for this wonderful opportunity to have met all of them.
Like I mentioned earlier, I feel this trip helped put my future into perspective. My original plan after high school was to go to University of Hawaii West Oahu and to major in creative media or get a degree in English. I then wanted to get a teaching degree and become a secondary education teacher. That is still a possibility for me, but after going to New York, I realized that there may be more out there for me than just Hawaii. From the seventh grade, I remember dreaming of going to NYU. I would spend hours watching YouTube videos on how to get in, campus tours, dorm tours, and everything NYU. However, as the years went on I kind of pulled back on that dream because I hadn’t been to New York in about five or six years. So for me, the feel of the city was kind of tainted. After going back to New York, I have regained my love of the city. I forgot how much I loved New York and how I feel so at home there. Especially after getting an in depth tour of NYU, I really can see myself going there now. I read through the booklet that they gave us and I’m looking at majoring in Media, Culture, and Communications. I feel that I came home a new person after going to New York. I think I found myself throughout all the wonderful experiences.
I would like to thank everyone who helped to make this trip possible for me. I would also like to give a big thank you to, Loretta Ables Sayre who gave us the opportunity to meet Lucia, Adinah, and Eric. I would also like to thank my man, Derek from Seawind, who made this trip possible. Thank you to PVT Land for their donation that helped pay for the cost of some of the activities and meals for students. Lastly, I would like to thank Mr. Kitsu (or my dad) for all that he did also to make sure we all had fun and we had an experience of a lifetime.