So here we are, after 4 amazing latino months in South America, Mexico, Cuba and Florida, and an exhausting 24h bus ride, we finally reached Newark in New Jersey. Newark is mainly famous for its airport, one of the biggest around New York City, and its proximity to the Big Apple but also for being a safe place for foreigners during the Trump era. We decided to stay in Newark as we found a very lovely host family there in need of help with childcare.
An astonishing trio
One thing that really motivated us for this volunteering is the family itself. We are always seeking for different experiences to open our minds on our world and this awesomely different family is here to break all standards and labels, defining family for what it really is – a group of people who love each other unconditionally. Whereas a so called traditional American family counts a husband, a wife and one or two children, this one counts 2 children, a husband, and … 2 other husbands! Not to talk about mixed ethnic backgrounds… just beautiful.
For the little story, Stephen and Chuck have been married since their late 20’s and 9 years ago they decided it was time to start a family and adopted their first kid Lily. When Lily was 1, they met Dzu and they all fell in love, adding to the family a 4th person. A couple of years later, Lily’s birth mother got pregnant again and she got a baby sister, Savannah, who the guys got to adopt as well.
We haven’t heard about their struggles into being accepted as a family by society, maybe because people are better than we think and they go by pretty well or simply because they don’t like to talk about it. From what we could see, they are just a regular family, struggling to raising their daughters under values of respect and care and hopping they will grow up to be their best self. They do believe that if you raise a child to be accepting and not to label everything, you will have much better adults in the future… and we couldn’t agree more! To be honest, they are much better parents and human beings than most people we’ve met in the US. They care about others, about the environment, living a healthy life, eating organic, being careful with too much sugar or too much TV, etc…
We were immediately amazed by how nice, caring and loving this trio was. They gave us so much during our stay and we are so grateful for that. We believe that love has no label, and that everyone deserves to be happy and live their lives the way they chose as long as it doesn’t hurt anybody.
Our stay in New York area
Our stay in New York area counts 2 phases. The first one, from May 30th to June 18th was in their historical house in Newark, NJ and the second one, from June 18th to July 20th in Woodstock, upstate New York.
In Newark, our job was mainly to drop off the girls at school in the morning, pick them up in the afternoon, help them do their homework and play with them till dinner time / bed time. Although those 2 girls were usually full of energy after a school day and had strong personalities, the job was usually very easy. In the weekends, they were often travelling, either to their grandparents or to their house in Woodstock, so we could enjoy the weekends to do sightseeing in NYC or to just chill in Newark.
On our first weekend there, the guys took us to Governors Island, near Liberty Island, for the Figment festival of arts and music. We rented some bikes to discover this tiny Island and got some amazing view to the Statue of Liberty and NYC skyline.
Otherwise we did the main tourists attraction in the city on our free time during the weekends or evenings: Time square, the Rockefeller center, Central Park, the High Line Park, the One World Trade Center, Broadway, the museum of Natural History, etc… But don’t fool yourself, spending time in NYC will most certainly be very expensive!!
We also took our time to go to Long Branch beach in New Jersey. Bummer, in NJ you always have to pay to access the beach…
We also took the car for a day trip to the Hamptons. Beaches are pretty and clean and you can see all the mansion that are beach front and be jealous lol
To access the beach is free but be careful where you park as parking cost around 50 dollars if you don’t have a card proving you live there. We managed to drive enough and find some very rare free parking.
Summer time in Woodstock, NY
After 2 weeks and a half, Karol decided to go to Canada to help out a friend with emptying her house (we’ll talk about Canada in another article), while Alex went to Woodstock to take care of the girls during their summer time.
Woodstock is very famous for hosting one of the biggest festivals of history in 1969. Even if the festival was actually located some 60 miles from Woodstock, the city inherited a very hippy and relaxed atmosphere. 2 souvenirs shops will make you feel the spirit of the festival, whereas Grandpa Woodstock will wander around the town to meet tourists.
In Woodstock we had pretty much the same duty than in Newark, except that School was replaced by Summer Camp, and homework by more play time. For us it got a bit more time consuming and tiring, but on the other hand we could enjoy some time in the countryside and discover all the natural beauty around the place.
July 4th in NYC
For July 4th Weekend, we decided to go to NYC to enjoy the fireworks. Fortunately we could stay 4 days in a friend’s house in Brooklyn and enjoy the real New Yorker’s life. Those 4 days were really great and we even got to go to Rockaway beach in NYC and do some surfing!! For the fireworks, we went to Cony Island, another beach in NYC and it was dope!
So that is it for our stay around New York. We got to extend our knowledge of the American culture, experience life outside of the box, hang out with 2 little girls and realize we are still so not ready to have our own!!!! ^^
After that, we were planning to rent a car and go to Canada, but we realized that Karol could only enter Canada by plane, which killed our plans. So in the end we decided to do another volunteering for 2 weeks in Vermont, and we’ll tell you all about it very soon.