Identity, Access, and Mobility in the City that Never Sleeps

The city that never sleeps! A cultural center point of the world. When you think of New York City, what do you imagine? I picture the impressive Manhattan skyline, Hollywood (the Avengers, Jimmy Fallon, etc., Central Park, Broadway musicals, and classic NY bagels! New York City in all its glory, is a wonderful city to complete a short-term internship away from home. Throughout this post we will discuss some points to consider when deciding to pursue an AIFS internship in NYC.

After spending some time in NYC during the summer of 2022, leading our onsite program, I learned some tips and tricks to living in this amazing city. At times, New York City with all its glamour, can be challenging to live in. While onsite in the city, it is important for you to consider your identity, access and mobility.



New York City has thriving LGBTQIA+ communities and is regarded as one of the most welcoming places in the world for LGBTQIA+ visitors. With a rich culture and a long history of advocacy, you'll find that there are many resources, groups, and friends to join in the LGBTQIA+ community here. There is no better place to enjoy LGBTQIA+ history and culture than the big apple! 


If you are attending a summer program, I highly recommend attending the NYC Pride March. It is one of the largest Pride Parades in the world.. I attended this last summer 2022, and was overcome with emotion for how far this community has come in recent years. The parade passes by the Stonewall Inn, which is where the Stonewall Uprising happened in Manhattan in 1969. This event was truly a pivotal moment and tipping point for Gay Liberation in the United States. 


NYC Pride


Race & Ethnicity


Additionally, since NYC is a huge metropolis with a very diverse population, you are sure to find a wide variety of food options. There are many different cultural hubs throughout the city, such as Chinatown, Harlem, Korea Town, Spanish Harlem, etc. You can find almost every type of cuisine you can think of. You may choose to have Thai food on Tuesday and switch up to go with your friends to a Ukrainian restaurant Friday, only to close out the weekend with traditional Puerto Rican cuisine. The city is your restaurant oyster! So much diversity leads to an incredibly diverse culture of food and traditions. You will find that there are lots of ethnically oriented events happening throughout the city as well! This last summer, there was a Puerto Rican Day Parade through Manhattan. Your location coordinator can provide you with other ideas to get involved with these types of events and organizations throughout the city.


Diversity NYC


Some local museums I recommend exploring would be the Louis Armstrong House Museum, Museum of Contemporary African Diaspora Arts, The Whitney, The Museum and the Fashion Institute of Technology and the Jewish Museum, Brooklyn Museum, and the Studio Museum in Harlem.


*While NYC is a giant city with an incredibly diverse population, people with minorized identities are still minorized and may experience acts of micro-aggressions, prejudice, and racism. In an internship, it is the duty of your supervisor to create an equitable and safe environment for all of their employees; however, I implore you to document the events, write down every word or action that is said to you, and notify your onsite Location Coordinator. Please remember to ask us for help or reach out with concerns; I have stepped into workplace issues in the past and the onsite coordinator can do the same. Our team is there to support you, and we have the resources to do so. Don't hesitate to ask for support, we are here!


Access and Mobility


Through partnership with organizations like, The American Association with Disabilities AAPD and the American with Disabilities Act, the city has made great strides in making it more accessible to those with physical, visual, and hearing disabilities. I am focusing this on navigating with different abilities. Most crosswalks have both visual and auditory notification for when it is safe to walk. Additionally, each crosswalk is lowered at a certain spot on the sidewalk for access if you are in a wheelchair. While there are some subway stations that are not equipped for wheelchair access (Stairs leading down to the platform is usually the problem), wheelchair accessible stations will be designated as such. These stations are noticeably marked, and an elevator is available at such locations. All buses are equipped with a wheelchair ramp and lift. This is my recommendation should you choose to take public transportation. All you need to do is wait at one of the stops, wave to the driver, and they will help you load onto the bus. 



Access in NYC


Access NYC and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority offer public transportation for qualifying individuals with disabilities or health conditions that prevent them from using the subway or bus system. You can determine your eligibility and apply for this service through Access NYC. MTA also offers a discounted subway pass for qualifying individuals with physical disabilities. 


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