Monday, December 12, 2011

Ice Skating in Bryant Park -by Kenza

Bryant Park symbolizes for me a peaceful green square where you can enjoy free Wi-Fi in the heart of the city. There are also a lot of events organized in the park like the traditional outdoor Film Festival in the summer or the Christmas Market with the skating rink in the winter. The school organized an ice skating afternoon giving students the opportunity to either discover this sport or enjoy practicing it.

The students had the choice to either ice skate or watch the others while practicing their English.  I am Moroccan, so I am not used to this sport. I decided to be courageous and to try skating. It was my first time and like all first times, I will never forget it!

First, you feel excited. Am I really doing it? Is it rational? Then, while you are wearing your ice skates you start understanding what you are ready to do. It’s a mix of excitement, fear, and joy. Fortunately, Skyler and Cassandra, our two chaperones, were there to support us. Surprisingly, they weren’t the only ones. In fact, I had the feeling of knowing everybody in the park. First, an agent working there came to me, and told me I had to tighten my skates to make my legs more stable. He was right! Then, we had an amazing photo shoot to help us get familiar with the whole environment.

While I was watching the rink, I started feeling confident. It didn’t seem too terrible. I had a flash back of the different sequences I'd seen either in the professional competition on TV or in movies where the characters had such grace on the ice. I thought I would be like them. I would glide elegantly on the ice, and be able to slide smoothly, and even be capable of spinning in circles in the middle while everybody would be applauding and breathless… Then, reality came back, but in a funny way. People were assuredly clapping and attentive to my moves, but not for the same reason. One by one in our group we started entering the rink. When my turn arrived, I asked for some help because I didn't want to find myself alone.

Despite, all the help and the advice people gave me, my first step on the ice ended with my rear-end on the floor… My first contact with the ice was complete. I felt it with my whole body. Miraculously, I stood up hoping it was the first and last time. I grabbed the rails with both hands and decided they would be my best friends for the next hour. Skyler, who was showing off on the ice, stayed next to me and tried to explain the process. All that my brain heard was “bla bla bla bla bla”, I can repeat exactly all that he said, but at that time my brain was completely separated from my body. I just wanted to reach the other side.

A key point you have to know is that you have to do the whole circle in order to come back to your departure point (a detail people forget to tell you…). Of course, the courageous have just to come by the middle, but I wasn’t part of them. Then I thought, it would be the longest day of my life, I realized it was not bad at all. I started to be attentive to the people around me. They became all part of my life. Both people either inside the rink or outside, on the park had something to say. They gave me instructions, said nice words to encourage me, took my hands to help me move…

Isabelle, a student from France and a real expert on ice skating came next to me, and gave me all her attention. With her soft voice, she gave me confidence, and kept encouraging me “don’t worry, keep going, move one foot after the other, right and left, believe in me, just breath, just smile, stay balanced with your weight in front so you will not hurt your back if you fall, keep your knees bent…”   At the same time, I heard a group of people sitting in the chairs starting to clap their hands and saying supporting words. I couldn’t see who they were (too focused on not falling) but I was sincerely thankful to them, and sorry they had to attend such a horrible performance, lol. Thanks to Isabelle I slipped a bit, it didn’t last a while, but I least I know the feeling now...

One thing is sure; I didn’t expect this kind of attention from everybody. A real sense of companionship was present all over the place and by everybody, from children to elder people, professionals or amateurs, skating or not! At the end of my “journey”, I heard someone saying “In order to learn ice skating, you have first to learn how to fall”. Thankfully, I heard it at the end, otherwise I don’t think I would have been able to do it.  I fell, but I was confident enough to give it a try. I will maybe go back with less fear, and more confidence. Yes, I can! 

To see more photos from NYLC group activities, visit our facebook page at: 

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