The Journey from NYC to Buffalo

Lorena Flores sits on a wooden bench with a friend
July 23, 2018
Lorena Flores

Before this summer if you were to ask me what I thought of Buffalo the first thing that would come to mind would be buffalo wings and its proximity to Niagara Falls, and while I have yet to experience either one of those things, I have since come to realize that Buffalo is so much more. Coming from the Bronx, I never thought that I would be spending an entire summer in Western New York because of my perception that it would be too quiet and bland for my city taste buds, but working at the Buffalo State Community Academic Center (CAC) has revealed how worldly and interesting Buffalo actually is. Being located on Grant Street, the community is incredibly diverse with people from all over the world. Burmese, Somali, Kareni, these communities make up the overwhelming majority of the west side. The West Side Bazaar being one of the living examples of just how diverse the community is and how much culture contributes to the whole of the West Side. Aside from the West Side I have done a lot of exploring within Buffalo both through Friday’s programming and through my own personal intrigue. A few highlights of my travels include the fourth of July fireworks, the abandoned silos, and the Colored Musicians Club. These places make up Buffalo a very exciting place to live in and I’m grateful that I’ve been able to experience a lot of them.


My project within the CAC has been to focus on the programming that the center offers such as the ESL classes and the citizenship classes and how could the center improve the awareness and structure of the two classes. Dividing my time with this research question as well as the day to day operation of the CAC has been what I’ve spent most of my time on and I’ve been progressing quite nicely. As a side project I have been working on collecting and organizing information from the Niagara district in order to have a more clear and concise overview of the neighborhood. The report on the Niagara district will make it more efficient for lawmakers from the neighborhood to understand the makeup of their district and tailor to their needs.


In order to be a strong community leader, something us as high roaders are trying to do in our time here at Buffalo, we have to understand how to actually be effective leaders, a skill that I’ve been learning in the program Emerging Leaders, sponsored by the West Side Promise Neighborhood. One of the high roaders working with the WSPN opened up the opportunity for some of us to go through the training and it has been a very rewarding experience thus far to learn about ourselves and how our background can serve to help members of the community.


While I did get a little homesick, being away from the hustle and bustle of NYC, Buffalo did not let me down with all it’s had to offer so far this summer. I’ve been able to see many sights and places as well as get to know the people from Buffalo and hear their stories.