Thursday, August 21, 2014

Crossroad of poverty and wealth in Connecticut - walking around Yale University with out of town guests

Friends from CNY are visiting me in Connecticut and last night we drove to New Haven to walk around Yale. It is move-in time for freshman, so families and their Volvos, Mercedes, Hummers, and Audis were doing their thing.

I love the campus. It reminds me of Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard, Cornell, and Colgate - locations That have always mesmerized me.

Yet, I'm a local now. I've spent the last two years working in some of the lowest performing K-8 schools in the State and I've grown used to particular neighborhoods and communities where the students live. I know the backroads to Yale University and that is the way I drove for our afternoon hike.

One of my friends commented on the decaying housing, street activity, homelessness, and rather obvious poverty when we drove the backroads. "I can't believe this is Yale," she said. I responded, "Oh, we're not at Yale yet." A few streets over, the buildings began to change, the fashion became more expensive, and the ivy grew upon everything. "This is Yale," I explained.

We got out of the car and walked for 45 minutes to look into the gates to see the landscaped courtyards and dreamy manicured bushes, trees, flowers, and lawns. "That, too, is Yale," I continued.

We walked on the sidewalks, however, and were asked for money by several individuals. We stopped in a few stores, too, to price $180 flip flops and $1,500 tapestries to hang in dorm rooms.

My friends said, "This is fascinating." I responded, "This is America, 21st century. Perhaps it is not any more transparent than Everywhere, Connecticut"

I thought the Bridgeport/Fairfield line was extreme. A little more east, however, the inequities are part of the entire postcard. One block tells a totally different story. This is my third year in Connecticut and I still can't believe the disparities between haves and have nots.

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