Etgar 36

Day 15 – Los Angeles – By Jake Gordon

On this momentous day on our cross-country journey, the Etgar group of 2013 departed from the scorching 8am heat of Las Vegas, Nevada, and headed towards the jewel of the west coast, Los Angeles, CA.

It was roughly two hours after our departure until we were pleasantly surprised by “Peggy Sue’s,” a 1950’s style diner that more then satisfied our adolescent bellies with authentic milk shakes and eggs.

The rest of the bus ride went quickly as we watched the academy award winning drama, Crash. This powerful film accurately depicted the diversity of LA’s inhabitants, along with the substantial amount of violence and racism that transpires daily. The movie ended right on cue as the bus passed Palmdale and entered the I10 freeway into Los Angeles.

Without time to soak in the 83 degrees and breezy weather, all thirty four of us were rushed into a downtown building to meet with a young CEO named Marshall Tuck. Tuck introduced us to his organization, Partnerships for Los Angeles Schools, an company that is tasked with reconstructing the least productive schools in LA, some of which have under a 40% graduation rate. Despite standing at thirty nine years old, Tuck radiated his passion for education reform proving to us that he is more then qualified to head this difficult industry. PLAS (Partnerships for Los Angeles Schools) placed a large emphasis on “in school” leadership, including great principles, administration, and teachers.Tuck conveyed to us that in his utopian society teachers were respected on an equal level to Doctors and Lawyers. Even if not to this degree, he said it is critical for students to have an incentive of at least high regard in society if they chose to get into teaching.

After this interesting and uncontroversial meeting, we headed out of Down Town and into the City, to the famous outdoor mall, “The Grove.” Two glorious hours were spent by all, devouring a plethora of delicious foods and shopping in the countless kiosk and stores.

Finally, the eventful day culminated with a special treat as the group traveled to Fairfax to see an open mike Poetry Slam. Each presenter expressed themselves entirely different, while sharing the beauty of rhythm and language. Shedding tears for three minutes in one act, then laughing hysterically the next, I was enlightened on how stimulating the various poems were and the emotion they possessed. One of the last presentations was by none other then the brilliant philosophy major and Etgar counselor, Lee Pennabaker.  Surprising us all, the blond hair and blue eyed Texas native introduced his topic as the passion he has in listening to the great rapper Tupac. For a packed three minutes, Lee sensationally tied together his lines and blew away the primarily African American crowd with his unequivocal passion for the topic. In fact, it was subtly discussed that Lee resembled in language, poetry, and style, the great Tupac Shakur himself. Overall, this day will go down as a historic one in Etgar history, and will include numerous memories that are inevitably implanted in our molding brains forever.