Trip to the United States: Part 4. Three Things I Never Do ft. New York

 

1. Demonstrations

Despite being actively involved in social action since 2013, I had never joined a street march or protest till the 20th of September this year. As discussed in a previous blog post, I’m very apprehensive of getting involved in public activism due to a variety of reasons. Initially, I wasn’t even planning to be part of the Global Climate Strike, and I made that clear to my colleagues with whom I was going to be in New York at the time. I planned to be on the sidelines and take pictures of them marching. However, after visiting the NMAAHC a few days before the strike, I felt a strong sense of duty to participate. The museum reminded me of how vital it is to organise and disrupt ‘business as usual’ to foster change. As much as I advocate and work for social and climate justice, I have always known that operating in the shadows isn’t enough. So, in the end, I decided to join my colleagues and mobilise for climate action on the streets. And, I think it was worth it. I must admit that, as feared, I did feel overwhelmed and anxious at various points whilst marching, particularly towards the end. But, it was a necessary action to take and an experience which I don’t regret.

 

2. Partying

On the 21st of September, I attended the UN Youth Climate Summit as a delegate. The proceedings of the event in itself were hardly special and slightly underwhelming: it was comprised of sessions and workshops full of knowledge-sharing, entrepreneurial pitches and motivational speeches, rather than actual policy discussions and commitments. I think the Global Landscapes Forum on the 28th (bottom three pictures) was more engaging and interesting, even if it got less attention. Of course, I didn’t expect any different from a “youth summit” (even though the actual Climate Action Summit underdelivered as well). At least I had the opportunity to reconnect with many of the amazing young people I met last year in Katowice. And, the day ended in a really unexpected high note: dancing and drinking on the rooftop of the United Nations’ headquarters!  Whilst I thought the evening reception would be quite sober and refined, it ended up being quite fun and freeing. I don’t even like clubbing or partying, this was my first time “going out” in ages. Yet, it was the highlight of my time in NYC, and it made me realise that maybe I do like clubbing and partying. It is all just about with who, how and when.

 

3. Leadership / Management

Enough said on this work-related topic. Side note: nobody ever prepared me for how much you have to pretend to like coffee, wine, beer and champagne (yes, I hate all of these!) in professional settings, particularly during events like receptions. Nor for how much you have to pretend to know about the different versions of these drinks. Every time a waiter asked me what type of wine or beer I wanted, I had to pause and put on a reflexive face as if I knew the difference between all the options presented and didn’t just choose one of them at random!

 

4. Bonus:  New York, September 2019.

As with D.C., I liked NYC more that I expected. Unlike with D.C., I didn’t have time or energy to properly explore NYC. My life there was all about commuting, working and hosteling. Looking forward to coming back for a proper visit.

Photos by Emilie F. Yaakaar. All Rights Reserved © 2019.

 

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