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New Victory Blog

The New Victory Blog is a place to learn more about New York's theater for families and the shows we produce. Find out what we do and what we're passionate about—exploring the arts as a family.

Written by Greg Arrastia, Third-Year New Victory Usher

During the recent run of FLY at The New Victory Theater, I had the great pleasure of getting to know three real-life Tuskegee Airmen! I had a lot of questions for them, and they were more than happy to answer them and share a few of their stories with me.

 

Third-Year Usher Greg Arrastia with Tuskegee Airmen Audley Coulthurst and Dabney Montgomery
Greg got to know Tuskegee Airmen Audley Coulthurst and Dabney Montgomery during the run of Fly, when they attended a pair of special Talk-Back events.
These men, who bravely served in our country's military at a time when they weren't accepted by others, really made a difference. They risked their lives to make the world a better place. To be given the opportunity to meet some of the Tuskegee Airmen is an honor that I won't forget. I remember a story one of the airmen told me about the time he walked up to a set of water fountains—one was for whites only, and the other solely for blacks. "Simply taking a drink of water from the wrong fountain could have gotten me killed," he said. And yet, he sipped from the "Whites Only" fountain, proving that he was determined to take a stand against discrimination and oppression.

As I observed and got to know these men, I noticed that they were not only funny, soft-spoken and young-at-heart; they were really strong, too—physically, mentally and emotionally. One of the airmen told me that he worked as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s security guard. Wow! I mean, just to get to meet Dr. King, an amazing man who made a huge impact on society, would be such a huge honor. I can't imagine what it must have been like having the job of protecting Dr. King.

Listening to their stories helped me to think about life, and our country's history, in a different way. One thing that will stick with me is the moment one of the airmen looked me in the eyes and said, "Don't ever let anybody tell you that you can't do something. People will try to tell you that because they haven't done it. Anything you put your mind to, you can do. Don't let anyone hold you back. We are living examples of that!"

I wish everyone could have the experience of talking with someone who has been such an important part of our history. Being with these amazing men and listening to their stories changed my life. To be honest, I never really found history to be all that interesting. That is, until I saw FLY and got to meet the airmen. The story of the Tuskegee Airmen should be talked about more in schools. It's an important part of our history, and people need to know what they went through and what a difference they made. It was a blessing to get to know these inspiring men.

This is definitely an experience that I'll keep with me—always.
 
 
Greg Arrastia Greg Arrastia is a Third-Year Usher who hails from Crown Heights, Brooklyn. Greg’s #LoveOfTheater began right here at the New Vic, and he also enjoys playing basketball and working out at the gym. He credits the New Victory Usher Corps for highlighting the importance of helping others and teaching him how to be a leader. You can learn more about Greg in his Usher Spotlight from earlier this season.

The New Victory Theater launched the New Victory Usher Corps the day the theater opened to provide paid employment, job training, academic support, mentorship and an introduction to the performing arts for over 50 young New Yorkers each year. Since then, the program has provided over 400,000 hours of paid employment to over 500 NYC teens from across the city. Find out how the young people in your life can apply to be a part of this award-winning program!

All season long, we'll be featuring young people from our Usher Corps in our New Vic Bills and here on the New Victory Blog. Today we’re talking to third-year usher Judy Wu from Queens.

Third-Year Usher Judy WuWho inspires you?
​My parents inspire me because they overcame many obstacles to come to this country to make a better life for my family.

What's your fondest childhood memory?
My fondest childhood memory was experiencing a new world of adventure and excitement at Disney World.

What was your favorite story as a kid?
My favorite book as a kid was Matilda by Roald Dahl because she was a precocious child with magical abilities who found a voice in stories and herself.

What's your favorite subject in school? 
My favorite subject is English because I've always loved reading and the art of storytelling.

Describe your personal style.
My personal style is minimalist and classic.  

What's your favorite song right now?
My favorite song right now is "Here" by Alessia Cara. 

What's your favorite place to eat or grab food near the theater?
My favorite place to eat around the theater is Schnipper's because they have a variety of comfort foods.

What are your favorite things to do when you're not at work?
My favorite things to do outside of work are reading and exploring different places in NYC.

What's your favorite NYC hangout or neighborhood?
My favorite places to hang out in NYC are museums. One museum I particularly like is the Metropolitan Museum of Art in Manhattan because they have a vast collection of artwork and exhibits.

What's the most challenging thing about being an usher?
The most challenging part of being an usher is providing a unique and personable customer service experience for patrons.

What would be your dream vacation?
My dream vacation would be exploring the culture, food and language of Japan.
 
Posted by Zack Ramadan
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