The Exodus Project flew out of Memphis international Airport Sunday, March 8th at 5:50 am headed for New York City! It was the first flight for one of the parents and several of the students. With the exception of our one college student, it was everyone in the group’s first trip to New York. On Sunday, the group walked the streets in Times Square before having dinner and meeting local professionals, Tracey Sydnor, a special education teacher in Yonkers, NY who sang with the famed Harlem Boys Choir for years and Deborah Williams, founder/CEO of HerGame2, which designs women’s clothing. On Monday, the group took a ferry to Ellis Island and saw the Statue of Liberty and climbed the steps to the pedestal before having lunch in the Cafe. That afternoon, the group toured the Museum of Modern Art and saw some unique pieces before touring the Empire State Building, one of the country’s tallest buildings.  On Tuesday, the group got up at 3:00 am to catch the subway and get in line to view the Today Show. The early morning paid off and the group was seen on Tuesday’s airing of the Today Show and was even interviewed by Al Roker. After the Today Show, the group visited Saint Patrick’s Cathedral before touring the American Museum of Natural History. The group then headed into Brooklyn for the afternoon and ate lunch in downtown Brooklyn before walking across the 2 mile Brooklyn Bridge. After the bridge, the group visited the 911 Memorial and Museum which recently opened in the same spot where the Twin Towers collapsed. On Wednesday, the Exodus Project toured New York University before eating lunch in Harlem at First Church of Christ Holiness (U.S.A.). That afternoon, the group shopped at the Shops at Columbus Circle in the heart of Manhattan. The group ended the day hearing from Rukia Lumumba, Attorney and Civil Rights Activist and daughter of Jackson’s former Mayor Chokwe Lumumba. On Thursday, the group toured Columbia University in Harlem. After lunch, the group went inside the famed Apollo Theatre and toured Sony Technology Museum, which is an interactive museum showing the use of technology in today’s world. The group ended the day in Chinatown and Little Italy. On Friday, the group flew home.

The group of 23 included students and parents. 15 students attended the trip: Olivia Patterson, Jadyn Patterson, Alexander Patterson, Camryn Greer, Coryona Greer, Makayla Wiley, Kyahndrea Rainey, Janie Jones, Tyshika Hawthorne, Brittany Moore, Dudley Moore, Joshua Dodd, Devontrell Rimmer, Darius Thornton, Vershun Hargrove, Martel Myers, and Markel Tate. Parents/Chaperones: Antonio and Coletta Patterson, Linda Hargrove, Anita Greer, Andrea Myers, and Crystal Wiley.

Coletta Patterson began planning the trip about 9 months ago. One of the parents suggested the group take a trip to New York after the group’s trip to Los Angeles in 2013. Plans began to come together once individuals and businesses supported the efforts with lodging and meal sponsorships. Students paid $575 which covered their meals, hotel, activities and transportation. The Exodus Project is grateful for all those who gave donations and made the trip possible, especially the 14 meal sponsors and the three lodging sponsors including individuals, churches, and businesses.

All the planning and hard work was worth it when a student’s eyes opened in amazement when walking into the Museum of Modern Art or hearing a parent say it was her dream since high school to go to New York and finally getting there 25 years later or the students’ expressions feeling a plane taking off for the first time or seeing the students’ bond and getting to know each other.

The Exodus Project was founded in 2007 to give students exposure and to broaden their horizons. The group has traveled across the U.S.–from coast to coast and many places in between. Without this program, many students would not get to see some parts of this country or meet professionals from all over. The mission is to ensure each student reaches his/her fullest potential.