Event Review: Act like a New Yorker

DSC_1561Written by Kate Lee, Workshop moderator and AWNY Committee member

As I walked through Times Square to the rehearsal studio for our AWNY workshop, I got that NYC buzz – a heady mix of excitement and wonder as I make sure I don’t tread on or brush against anything that will make me want to burn my clothes later.  
Our studio space was small. It had scuffed walls and hadn’t been swept for perhaps a decade. I peeped into the spacious, airy room next door. The one with the polished floor and windows on two sides. I thought we’d booked this one. The large one with room enough for 15 people? No, you booked 703. Oh. Grit and grind of New York indeed. I arranged the space and put slips of paper on the table by the door. These were for people to write the challenges they’ve experienced in this city. I should have written, ‘separated by a common language.’ Later, I would use these slips for our improvisations. As people began to arrive, the familiarity of the accent, the sense of humor and that sun-shine-like Australian openness lit-up the room. It awes me all the time, the stories of women in New York. From one- to twenty-plus-years living here, each of us had different why’s, who’s and how’s of being in this city.
The workshop began by orientating ourselves in the space and to each other. Classic drama games such as mirroring and molding our bodies are great for this. The aim is to turn off the analytical brain and ‘tune’ ourselves to our own reactions as well as those who are in the room. We then created a series of tableaux that reflected images and feelings of New York life – finances, dating, confidence and speaking up at work. We then moved into the main activities known as Image Theater and Forum Theater. These processes come from a very well-known Brazilian practitioner called Augusto Boal. His ‘Theatre of the Oppressed’ is famous for its ‘spect-actor’ – the notion that the spectator is not a passive observer of the dramatic action. Rather, they become active participants by co-creating, directing and changing the outcomes. This means anyone can join an improvisation and try out different ways of getting what they want.
There is never a straight, nor clear outcome in these processes. In seeing one’s situation enacted in front of them, not only is a person’s feelings validated, but also the group becomes an active mechanism in supporting their process of addressing the challenge. Rather than thinking through a problem, participants get to physically see – and embody – solutions and new ways of being. There are no answers, but the rich discussions that follow draw from the collective knowledge of the group and remind us that we are not alone.
Act Like a New Yorker wasn’t about acting like a New Yorker. Rather, it was acknowledging the challenges that we, as Australians, encounter in this city. And by drawing from the experience of the group, we can see these challenges from a different perspective and perhaps find new ways of addressing them.

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Blog – https://australianwomeninnewyork.org
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Event Review: Love Salon – a Post-Valentine’s Day discussion on love, sex and romance

Written by Laura O’Loughlin

On Wednesday, February 15, AWNY welcomed Australian philosopher and author, Skye Cleary, and Australian feminist, journalist and author, Rachel Hills, as panelists for a frank and fearless discussion of love, sex and romance in the city that never sleeps commits, or so it might seem.

v-day-event-lolliesModerator Monica McCarthy of Impact Hub tapped into the malaise many of us feel around February 14, kicking off the discussion by asking whether we are happier now that we can choose who we love. Cleary picked up on the necessity of freedom, both to choose a partner and within a relationship, quickly dispelling the idea that a relationship needs to be long to be considered successful. Instead, she argued the need for ‘authentic love’ – a love that encompasses mutual respect for the liberty of the other – is more important than the duration of the partnership.

The discussion moved to sexual liberation and sexual attractiveness. Hills quoted Dan Savage as she unpacked the conflicting expectations on women to be simultaneously moral and ‘good, giving and game’. She emphasized that while sexism towards sexually liberated women still exists, the research shows that, to a large extent, men and women want the same things in the bedroom.

The panel also explored the idea of dating in New York, particularly the challenges that come with creating, building and maintaining relationships in a city where the pace of life and sheer number of options can shorten our attention spans. When we can simply ‘swipe right’ and move to the next face we may overlook the work required to take a relationship from casual to committed. Dating today has its own set of rules which are also culturally specific – learning to navigate these can be challenging, especially for Australians where our cultural differences can add a layer of complexity.

v-day-event-shoesThe audience had plenty of questions, such as:

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Mums and Dads Xmas drinks

by Helen McWilliam
Joe’s was a great venue for the end of year AWNY Mums and Dads drinks; suitably festive and very cozy.
We had a lower than anticipated turn out, I suspect because the drinks event fell on the coldest day of the year so far. However, many of us braved the chill and there was still a great mix of members, old and new, and between us we represented most states in Australia.
Possibly slightly too much wine was had for a Thursday night but there were a lot of laughs. Thank you for sharing in  such a fun night to those who came.
Looking forward to our next catch up slated to be a long brunch in Feb 2017 so stay tuned!

 

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Blog – https://australianwomeninnewyork.org
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Event Review: Bicycle Tour from Brooklyn to Manhattan

Written by Belinda Jackson, AWNY President

On a spectacularly sunny September day AWNY members and friends met under the Williamsburg Bridge to prepare for a bicycle tour of Brooklyn and Manhattan with our friends at Loudest Yeller, specialists in historic and cultural-based bicycle tours.

First thing was to get kitted out with our bikes and helmets. As there were 25 of us we split into two groups with our trusty leaders Adam and Jerome. We then headed off to Toby’s Estate for a kick-off coffee. Once we had a full tank of caffeine we left the Borough of Brooklyn by climbing the Williamsburg Bridge, rode down the East River and headed to Wall Street to hear about the start of the United States (yes, there really was a wall there), viewing the Stock Exchange and Trinity Church en route.

Back on our bikes, City Hall was next and then a tour through Chinatown and Little Italy, where the San Gennaro Festival was in full throng (this required dismounting and walking to get through the crowds). Through Soho to the West Village we went to stock up on supplies for a picnic lunch under the trees at Washington Square Park (you can always pick the Aussies – we’re the ones who head straight for the shade). Once fed and watered, we headed back via the Billyburg Bridge and home.

Despite three flat tyres, Adam Benedetto kept a cool head and he and tour co-guide Jerome provided us with an incredibly entertaining and educational experience in NYC.

I love how they came up with the name Loudest Yeller – from a Woody Guthrie song: I ain’t the world’s best writer nor the world’s best speller, but when I believe in something I’m the loudest yeller.

Many thanks to the team at  Loudest Yeller – Adam Benedetto and Jerome as well as our two fabulous event co-ordinators, Katarina Filopovic and Carmen Cavallaro.

Check out our FB photos here.

 

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Register for our monthly newsletter and be kept in the loop for our upcoming events where you can meet likeminded Aussie women living and working in New York.

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Event Review: The Emotional Transition of Moving to NYC

WRITTEN BY KIM BROUGHTON

Just a few weeks ago, AWNY Committee Member and counsellor Susie Lang, a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and a National Certified Counselor, facilitated an event series focused on working through the Emotional Transition of Moving to New York.

Given the emotional nature of the event, some attendees who came said they had been thinking about it many times before committing, as they had an ‘inkling’ that they wanted to be there. There was a really great group of women who gathered, all at different stages of their New York transition, starting from 2 weeks up to several years. It really demonstrates that Australian women need support and want to talk about their experience of ‘transition’ and ‘culture’ even after a long time in the USA.

One reasons I like being a part of AWNY is the familiar background we all have, I have this reassuring feeling that everyone is already my friend. It’s as if we have all known each other for years as a result of our shared cultural experience growing up in Australia.

I observed the same reassurance throughout this event; the majority of the attendees had not met before, yet were contributing with such vulnerability and honesty about a difficult topic. It was an expression closer to one shared between trusted friends, rather than strangers. This style of event, for me, was a really fantastic way to cut through the bullshit and talk about some of the more isolating aspects of living in this fabulous city.

Susie, our facilitator, did a great job of introducing the purpose of the session and walking the women through the stages of culture shock and the different feelings that arise through the transition process. Susie guided the conversation lightly by summarizing some of the stories we were hearing and giving them context.

The 3 different types of ‘Shock’ common to transition to a new country and culture are summarized below for those of you who couldn’t make it:

Culture Shock – four stages

  • Honeymoon Stage – WOW, this is all new and exciting
  • Disintegration Stage – starting to feeling unsettled, and maybe a little hostile. What we know as homesickness (a period of transition & healing) starts to settle in, along with feelings of incompetence, and being dissatisfied. You can also start to feel isolated and alone and question “what’s wrong with me?”
  • Adjustment Stage – the encouraging beginnings of a new sense of direction.
  • Adaptation Stage – now feeling increasingly confident in new surroundings and adapting well to the nuances of NYC.

Re-Entry Shock

  • There is transition when returning home to Australia.
  • Readjusting to our “old” culture where there is an expectation that life will be the same as when you left.
  • The challenge is that you’ve changed and also others have changed in your absence.

Self-Shock

  • This is about the “Who am I?” question that comes up when you moved to a new city or country.
  • In our birth countries, we grow up knowing the social norms and standards, and at home we have mirrors (our family and friends) to validate and affirm us when we are unsure.
  • Within our new environment our mirror no longer exists as well as our familiar societal norms and standards.
  • So in asking the question “Who am I?”, our new surroundings are now asking “Who are you?” which can sometimes be tricky to feel confident answering.

Within the ‘safe space’ of the event, the attendees opened up straight away and shared their feelings in response to the stages of shock. Each transition story was unique, and yet there were so many similar threads of experience and emotion – summoning agreement within the group!

This has been my favorite event so far! And one that I believe has helped not only give these women a chance to express these feelings, but a real chance to help themselves and form meaningful friendships – there was lots of swapping phone numbers at the end of the session.

Further Exploration

Following on from this event, Susie Lang will be offering additional “On the Sofa with Susie” workshops for a deep dive exploration into Culture Shock, Self-Shock and how to take steps towards personal healing. These events are open to the AWNY community and more details will be available soon.

On the Sofa with Susie Workshop Series:

Dates: Wed Nov 30th, Wed Dec 7th, Wed Dec 14th, Wed Dec 21 2016

Morning Session: 9.30-11.30am Location W60th Street
Cost:$80 for 4 sessions

Evening Session: 7pm-9pm Location TBD
Cost: $100 for 4 sessions

Please contact Susie Lang to book your place now
Tel:  (917) 494 3922
Email: susielang757@gmail.com

 

Don’t miss our next event

Register for our monthly newsletter and be kept in the loop for our upcoming events where you can meet likeminded Aussie women living and working in New York.

Blog – https://australianwomeninnewyork.org
Facebook –  https://www.facebook.com/AUWomenNYC/
Twitter – https://twitter.com/AUWomenNYC
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/auwomennyc/