What a wonderful town!

New York, New York, it’s a wonderful town!
The Bronx is up and the Battery’s down
The people ride in a hole in the ground,
New York, New York, it’s a wonderful town! 

I’m still riding the high from 4 glorious days in The Big Apple. What a city! It was everything I had hoped it would be and more. I met up with Sr. Cecilia O’Dwyer, who heads the IBVM NGO, and Sr. Elena Cerdeiras, who was visiting from the Spanish Province, and we explored the city together.

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We spent an incredible day at the United Nations at the Commission on the Status of Women. We sat in on the General Assembly and listened to a number of countries give statements on women’s rights. We also attended the DPI (Department of Public Information) briefing on sustainable infrastructure and women’s empowerment. I had the opportunity to take a guided tour of the UN buildings as well and have the chance to peek in on meeting rooms like the Security Council and the Economic and Social Council. Since I studied International Relations in university, it was a real thrill to see the workings of the UN in person. We also went to a special 20th anniversary celebration event of the Working Group on Girls, a coalition of civil society organizations devoted to giving girls a voice at the UN. Hosted by a group of teenaged girls, we were entertained with a video presentation and then we heard the keynote speaker, Nobel Peace Prize winner Leymah Gbowee, speak about her work for girls in Liberia. It was an inspiring talk and wonderful to see young girls so passionate about human rights.

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The rest of the weekend was a heady blur of sightseeing, delicious meals, and burgeoning friendship. We travelled up and down Manhattan and saw so many places that I had dreamed of seeing: the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, St. Patrick’s Basilica, the main branch of the New York Public Library, the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, Central Park, the 9/11 Memorial, the Washington Square Arch, the Brooklyn Bridge, the High Line Park, and more. And we got to walk through so many great neighbourhoods.

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Plus, we visited an excellent exhibit on Thomas Merton at Columbia University. It felt so intimate to see his handwritten drafts of poems and manuscripts and letters to friends. Not to mention his paintings and photographs. The exhibit has rekindled my interest in his life and work – I’ll have to dust off my copies of his journals and get reading!

I really feel very privileged to have visited New York – such a unique and exciting city. It truly is a place where dreams can come true.

New York, New York

In two short sleeps, I will be making my way across the skies to New York City. I can’t wait! For years I have dreamed of visiting iconic New York. Home of television, movies, art, theatre, music – culture and cuisine and people – so many millions of people. I have longed to visit for such a long time and I always figured I would go when the time was right. And happily, the time is now!

I am flying out on Wednesday afternoon to arrive in time to attend a civil society briefing at the United Nations on Thursday morning. One of the IBVM sisters (an Irish woman who is part of the Spanish Province) heads the IBVM UN NGO and she has graciously arranged for me to visit the UN and learn about the work the IBVMs are doing. The timing is fantastic. Right now the UN is hosting the 59th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (March 9 – 20) so there will be workshops and events to participate in and learn from. It’s going to be incredible. And I’ll take a tour of the UN itself.

I’m also hoping to do as much sightseeing as I can cram into a couple of days. I’m planning to go see the Thomas Merton Exhibit at Columbia University (I love Thomas Merton), and I have tickets to take a tour of Rockefeller Centre (would have loved to go on an NBC Studio Tour if it was up and running), and then I will just walk and walk and walk. And walk. And take in as much as I can.