Reflections of an Aussie Woman in NYC on Inauguration Day 2021

It’s Inauguration Day and as I watched Joe Biden and Kamala Harris be sworn in via YouTube, I was getting my latest Covid-19 test. Witnessing that moment on my smartphone, in a small room, while a pipe cleaner-like device was shoved up my nose, felt a little like 2020. Historic, isolating, and uncomfortable.

But it also symbolizes something else I’ve witnessed through this pandemic period—new beginnings, resilience, and growth.

Whatever your political persuasion, you can probably agree today was the start of something fresh, that the country has been through a lot, and that there is room for improvement.

I’m an Aussie who has been living in New York City since just before the 2016 election. Today’s inauguration made me think back to the same time about four years ago, when Donald Trump was sworn in. It felt very different.

It also reminded me of the 2016 election — the wave of depression I felt over New York City, the tears I saw in my classmates eyes at NYU, and the polarization I witnessed unfold afterwards.

The last reflection I wanted to share today was how quiet it was in the city. On the way back from my Covid-19 test I walked through Central Park and along the streets of the Upper West Side up to Washington Heights. There were no cheers, or tears—what I felt was a sense of calm.
I was struck by the contrast of that, to the celebration on the streets just a few months ago when it was announced that Biden won the election. Scroll down for some pictures I snapped on this day in November 2020.

That day I was so moved by the feeling, that I recorded what I heard—so it could be preserved and forever remain etched in my memory. Listen here on SoundCloud or below:

Images taken on the day the 2020 presidential winner was announced, November 2020.
Photo credit: Emma Cillekens

Author: Emma Cillekens

Emma Cillekens has been an AWNY volunteer since 2018. She is an award-winning journalist who hails from the Gold Coast. She was a breakfast radio host with the ABC in Outback Queensland before a scholarship stole her away to New York City to study her master's at NYU. Since she arrived in New York she's worked with The Wall Street Journal, WNYC, ProPublica, Barron's and MIT Technology Review to name a few. She spends most of her time making podcasts and consulting on everything storytelling. In her spare time Emma moonlights as a dance teacher.

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