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"We are not here to curse the darkness...."

"We are not here to curse the darkness, but to light the candle that can guide us through that darkness to a safe and sane future." — John F. Kennedy

Happy Hanukkah this week to those who celebrate the Festival of Lights. I've been thinking this week a lot about light, and darkness too, not only because of Hanukkah but also because of the 4:30pm sunsets. They've been especially beautiful this week, reflecting brilliantly from the Manhattan skyline, more visible from my Brooklyn apartment now with fewer leaves on the trees across the street to obscure any of the cityscape. The view changing from prettily leafy trees to clear skyline vistas is a fair trade-off. I love witnessing each season unfurl.

As you know by now, I've also been helping my city as part of a team of contact tracers in the NYC Test + Trace Corps. We're empathetic, knowledgeable, and resourceful, and twice in the last week my team directly helped save someone's life by getting them help with 911 during a routine daily check-in call. Yesterday was incredibly emotional for me, but not because of any emergencies on the phone. Just the opposite. Every person I spoke with was soft-spoken, kind, and cooperative, and each really wanted me to know we're doing a great job. One call though has stuck with me. He had conflicting test results but voluntarily chose to self-isolate in a room at home just to be on the safe side, separated from his family. He was quite conversational, and when I made him laugh, he became so warm. He made me laugh too, and he said it made him so happy that he could make me smile. He said he's spoken to many of us each day but I was his favorite so far. I have a soothing voice, he said, and then he told me he could picture me very clearly and that I was a beautiful person. He was a fortune teller, he said. Right before his call, I'd done the daily monitoring call with his wife, who was also gentle and sweet. When I hung up with them, I had a feeling of wanting to cry that lasted all day. I could feel somewhere in my city this man, alone in his room picturing me too, separating for two weeks from his lovely family voluntarily, without a concrete test result - just because it was possible he was positive.

I'm amazed by New Yorkers every day I make these calls. Every single person understands why I'm calling, why test and trace is critical, and how their participation affects all of us. To date, I've completed 91 close contact intakes - meaning they didn't refuse to participate in our voluntary call monitoring program. I learned yesterday this is a close second for my team's highest number of completed contact intakes. This doesn't include the many hundreds of daily monitoring calls I've made to New Yorkers over the last six months. This is a time of darkness for so many people right now, but I can attest to the fact that it is a time when your kindness, grace, and empathy can be the Light for someone too.

When you're ready to visit New York City again, I just want you to know how special the people here truly are. Without us, it's all just beautiful architecture. New Yorkers are what make this city great, and I hope you'll be able to visit all of us again very soon!

I design journeys that inspire by highlighting local arts and culture, history, and cuisine for intellectually curious clients longing to feel deeply inspired by exciting destinations, culinary delights, and authentic cultural experiences on a life-changing, joyful journey of discovery.

Danielle Dybiec

Founder & President


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