The Sounds of the Subway

Standing on the platform of the 59th street subway station, I listened to the music people were playing and felt one of the best moments I’ve had in New York.

Having stayed in New York as an exchange student for already half a year, I’ve seen places that I’ve never seen before, met different kinds of people, and found different ways of life. I began to know how to live by myself and thought more about what kind of life I really want in the future.

Of all the awesome parts of New York, I was impressed most by its art. Art in New York is not only the world-famous Broadway shows, or the masterpieces in the Met, but also the music we hear in subway stations or the small pictures we see on the street. To me, these are all part of New York.

It was about 10:30 in the evening. My friend and I were walking on the platform of the 59th street subway station when we heard a song sung by a young man and a young lady. The man was playing the guitar while singing along with the lady. “Taking this sinking boat and point it home, we’ve still got time.” They were singing "Falling Slowly" with the most beautiful voices I’ve ever heard. The song was from the movie Once which also tells a story about people who perform on the street. I could feel that they were singing from the bottom of their hearts as if they were telling their own stories. Their smiling faces showed that they were truly enjoying their music just as everyone else who stopped around them did. I was fully touched by their amazing voices and their moving music.

When I got onto the train, watching them still playing as we were driven away, I thought about all the people who have played in the subway station, with the music still in my head. Undoubtedly, they were all very talented people, but not everyone can become famous in New York. Still, they love their music, their art, and they love playing in the city where people will stop to listen and enjoy. They were people who made New York subway stations unique and fascinating. Getting off the train and seeing more people performing in another station, I made up my mind that I’ll try to sing the music that touched me one day, just as the young man and the young lady did in a New York subway station.

My name is Xingchen Ma. I’m 17 years old. I’m from High School Affiliated to Fudan University in Shanghai and now studying at Saint Ann’s School in Brooklyn as an exchange student for a year. I picked up “Stella” as my English name because it has the same meaning as my Chinese name “Xingchen,” both meaning “star.” I’m loving the awesome year I’m having here in New York!

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