AWNY Meet and Greet Program: The Lasting Impact of a Friendly Face

In 2017, the AWNY New Members’ Team developed and launched the AWNY Meet & Greet Program, which began from the idea that even though the reasons for coming to New York City are unique to each individual, we are not alone in seeking connection.  The program works by introducing a new arrival to one of our AWNY committee members, who will offer life-stage specific advice and support, including anything you want to know about living and working in New York.  

Susie Lang, an Australian counselor and professional photographer who has lived in New York for 14 years, shares her experience of being a “Meeter and Greeter” and the lasting impact of a friendly face:

“The program emphasizes ‘being a friendly face, recognizable culture and homely familiarity of AWNY’ as each newbie transitions into finding her way here.  Although we generally try to match up “like with like” in each woman who arrives in NYC, the majority of new women who arrive here are between 20 to 35 years of age. As someone with a wealth of life experience, I felt I could offer these women connections with others in their age bracket, their work status and their home status.   

Gabbi of AWNY meet and greet program in Central Park

I met a young woman who arrived in NYC just before the holiday season, slightly in awe and dazzled by the bright lights and big city.  It was sort of like going on a blind date! Twenty-two-year-old Brisbanite Gabbi and I met on a cold winter’s day in front of the naked statues in the Time Warner Building, Columbus Circle.  Can’t miss those!

Gabbi looked a little chilled, being inappropriately coated up for one of the first cold days of the season.  To add to her feeling cold, she was also feeling alone, VERY homesick and really questioned why she had come. I suggested good places to get warm coats. On subsequent meetups, she was wearing a much warmer coat. Phew! I didn’t have to worry about that one anymore!  I also suggested that these emotions that she was experiencing had the greatest potential of lessening the longer she was here and the more connections she made with other Australian women.  

I have often been referred to as a “New York Mum” to younger adults who arrive from overseas.  While mothers at home are worried about their adult kids traveling on their own, it seems that having a New York Mum is a comfort to mothers at home and reassuring to those younger women arriving.  

After a long walk through The Ramble in Central Park, I was able to show Gabbi an off-the-track eatery.  This burger joint  is an unexpected find and is behind the red velvet curtain in the lobby of the beautiful Parker New York Hotel. As we walked through the exquisite cocktail bar off West 57th Street, Gabbi felt on an early Sunday afternoon that it wouldn’t be SO busy – not true!  The wait-line was 45 minutes as we meandered back and forth before getting to place our order.  Know before you order – it’s simple!  A burger with the lot or a cheese burger with the lot with drinks and fries. We were lucky to find a seat at a booth with a couple who had just arrived from the UK. We shared travel stories.  Gabbi photographed the ambiance and her burger which I’m sure she’ll add to her blog!


Knowing that Gabbi had walked, was warm and well-fed, I felt that my introduction to NYC was a homely event.  From there, I put her in touch with ANWY and other Australian women of her age who showed her their New York.  While Gabbi was just here for a month, this was to be her “taster” for her potential return.  

I have felt that this initial connection was important in letting Gabbi know of the strong Australian connections out there in NYC.  I have been in her place before, of not knowing, feeling out of depth, struggling with the differences and trying to find my way, so being a friendly face in a big new city is the least I can offer to another new Australian women in NYC.”

Are you interested in joining the AWNY Meet and Greet Program? Fill out our new members form to get started.


Written by Susie Lang
Photo Credits: All photos by Susie Lang of


Author: Australian Women in New York

Australian Women in New York (AWNY) sources stories and guides that will help make you win the Big Apple. We also love to profile fabulous Aussie and Kiwi women.

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