Erich from Jersey City, NJ

Erich Sekel from Jersey City, New Jersey.

“Jersey City is the United States.  We are the most ethnically diverse city in the country, which is what makes us so amazing.  I’m obviously biased because I’m from here, but in Jersey City, people of all backgrounds, ethnic and religious live together. We are a proud city.

I am part of Jersey City Together, which is a coalition of clergy and lay community members united by common concerns in our communities.  Violence, and affordable housing are two issues that have been discussed in depth over the last few years.  We are working to stem the violence in some of our neighborhoods, and fight for maintained and enhanced affordable housing.  What makes Jersey City great is its diversity both ethnic, religious and income.  Our fear is as Jersey City becomes more popular, it may exclude individuals of modest means from remaining in Jersey City.”

  • It was a pleasure getting to talk with Erich in our short time in Jersey City. He was both a gracious host, and an incredible source of knowledge about the city and the challenges facing it’s residents. Erich works as the Associate Director of Campus Ministry for Community Service at Saint Peter’s University. There have been strong ties between Saint Peter’s and the community of Jersey City for many years, and Erich’s relationship to the area has only further cemented it. Erich grew up in Jersey City, and quickly embraced his role’s requirement of working directly with the community, teaching students about the various issues facing the residents that they share their city with. Last year, St. Peter’s students spent over 50,000 hours volunteering and working in the community. As Erich told us, “We are not a closed institution of higher learning, we are in the community striving to better the lives of the residents of Jersey City.” A special thank you to Erich for his kindness and hospitality along our journey.

Day 7 – Princeton, NJ


While walking through Princeton, NJ today, we were stopped by a family along the road. They had been sitting and eating pizza when they saw us walk by the restaurant window, and wanted to ask us about our journey.

Just before they saw us, the mother was offering words of encouragement to the two boys, explaining to them that they were capable of accomplishing anything when they were older. After seeing us, and the sign on the front of our cart, the boys began asking her questions about our journey, and if they could some day walk across the country too. They finished eating their pizza, drove down the road to find us, and gave us some money so we could get our own pizza too!

After posing for this picture with the boys, and saying goodbye, we both left that moment in high-spirits. We knew our friends and family were following along on our journey, but it was affirming to see the ways our walk connected us with complete strangers. We arrived at our Couchsurfing location in Princeton tonight incredibly grateful for the kindness and generosity of the countless strangers we have met these past few days. But especially for these two, who gave us a lift when we needed one.