Australian Adventure

The interns have been whisked off on another adventure with Dr. Judy, this time to Australia!  We are currently in Melbourne, covering the 63rd annual DPI/NGO Conference: Advance Global Health. Our trip has been quite an adventure so far; we began our travels in Sydney, Australia for Dr. Judy’s appearance at the Sydney Jewish Writer’s Festival. Arriving on Wednesday, August 25 at 6 AM, we decided to explore the exciting city of Sydney although we were feeling a bit out of it after a 14 hour flight. I studied abroad last year at University of Sydney so was the token tour guide (I hope I did an ok job)! We explored the Uni Sydney campus, ate some thai food (very popular in Australia), and walked around Darling Harbor. We had fun and really enjoyed the sunshine after sitting in a dark plane for so long!

Thursday night Dr. Judy participated in a formal, moderated discussion at the Sydney Jewish Writer’s Festival. This discussion got a bit spicy, since the man speaking with Dr. Judy was not very open to the psychological perspective of trauma and war and was very pessimistic about programs that Dr. Judy endorses, such as Seeds of Peace and other peace-making cooperation programs. Overall, the debate was very interesting and the entire room of viewers seemed very engaged with the debate. The event ended at around 10:00 PM and jetlag got the best of us! We all sleepily trekked back to our hotel for some much needed rest!

The next morning we got up bright and early and headed off to Channel 7 News in Australia. Dr. Judy was a featured guest on the popular morning news show. She spoke about whether it is realistic for one-night stands to turn into meaningful, long relationships. With movies that have come out in the past decade, such as Knocked Up, the question has been an interesting one to explore. Dr. Judy’s insight and quick wit was a hit with the hosts and even landed us a chance to go in and view the studio! It was very exciting. While we were at the television studio, a fellow student journalist from the DPI/NGO conference met up with us. His name is Jesus Franco and he hails all the way from Mexico City!

We all continued on our merry way and spent the day eating delicious Thai food (again, we couldn’t get enough!) and exploring the city some more. We headed back to the hotel to change for round two of the Sydney Jewish Writer’s festival. Dr. Judy’s talk tonight was much more tame, but equally as interesting! After a brief book signing, we headed back to the hotel to all watch a movie together! It was a lot of fun.

The next morning, we realized we had a free day to explore Sydney! The Jewish Writer’s Festival took a hiatus on Friday, so we set off to venture to Paddy’s Markets. The markets featured rows and rows of souvenirs including indigenous hand-painted boomerangs, which Julia and Anna both bought! Once we had our share of touristy knick-knacks, we set off to the beautiful Bondi Beach, about a one hour bus ride our of the centre of the city. We had a blast taking fabulous photographs, sipping delicious smoothies, and putting our toes in the water (it was chilly!). We made it back to the hotel in time to see Dr. Judy off to a traditional Shabatt dinner with her close friend and colleague, Amanda. The interns and Jesus set off for some Australian burgers and chips (fries) to eat for a quick dinner before our night out! The jetlag got the best of Jesus, so he opted out, but the ladies headed off to a fancy Sydney night-club called the Ivy! After having fun meeting locals and dancing, we came back for some much needed rest, as we knew we were traveling to Melbourne the next day!

After a luxurious (and short!) plane ride we landed in Melbourne! Time to whip out the hats the scarves! Being about 10 degrees chillier in this gorgeous city, we got a taste of Australian winter. After checking into our gorgeous hotel, we met up with a fellow student journalist named Stevan. A Melbourne local, Stevan took us out on a night we would be sure to never forget. We walked out to a beautiful pier where Stevan had promised us a surprise. Once we reached the edge of the pier, we were greeted by unfamiliar animal calls. After looking around in confusion for a few seconds, Julia spotted a small furry creature. She looked in disbelief at Stevan and asked “Is that a penguin?!”. Indeed it was, fairy penguins to be exact! These beautiful creatures have sought shelter on this small island in Saint Kilda, Melbourne! Who would have thought that we would ever get to see penguins in Australia! After taking heaps of photos and video footage (without flash as to not disturb the penguins), we headed to a delicious outdoor Italian dinner. The restaurant pleasantly provided us with heat lamps for our dining pleasure, and we had a lot of laughs and a great night overall.

The next morning we awoke eagerly for our first day of the United Nations 63rd Annual DPI/NGO conference. Anna, being the smart cookie she is, booked our hotel literally a minutes walk from the convention centre that the conference was held. We marched over with anticipation for our first full day as student journalists. The security was extremely tight and rigid to get into the conference and we all got official badges that say “Student Journalist” on them. After passing through security, we met all of the other student journalists. After a traditional meet and greet, we got right down to business. We quickly realized that we needed to get organized into different groups to most efficiently cover the enormous conference! We split up into a print group, whose main focus would be producing a written journal and a blog, and a documentary group who would produce one large documentary and a series of shorter videos for the blog. Julia stuck with print, Anna chose documentary, and I decided to do a mélange of both.

We then ventured downstairs to help Dr. Judy and her colleagues set up their booth in the conference on Psychology of Global Health. After a lot of hard work, the booth turned up looking wonderful! It was so great to see the video’s we worked on this summer being displayed in such an official setting. The booth featured Dr. Judy’s work in Lesotho at her female empowerment camp, as well as her valiant efforts in Haiti.

Once we finished up with the booth, we headed to a tradition Australian “footy” game. “Footy”, a more intense version of rugby was so much fun to watch! The fans were wild and rowdy and we all munched on delicious “wedges” and dip at the game! We were having so much fun, we almost lost track of time! We rushed off to the Opening Ceremony for the DPI/NGO conference.

And what an opening ceremony it was! Hon. Tony Lupton the Cabinet Secretary of the Victorian State Parliament and Mr. Iyo Akasaka, UN Under-Secretary General for Communications and Public Information both gave outstanding Welcome to Melbourne Addresses before the outstanding dance performances. The ceremony featured eight different types of dances from all different countries. My personal favorites were the traditional “Hakka” dance, and Melbourne’s own hip-hop dance troupe Rewind. There was a phenomenal sand-art interpretation of many of the dances and songs projected on a large screen. After being very visually entertained, we headed back to the hotel for some necessary rest for the conference the next day.

We arrived at 8:00 am and were shuffled off to a media briefing. It was very interesting to see the behind the scenes way in which journalists work. After the briefing, we divided up into different groups to attend various workshops that the conference offered. Some of these workshops included, Incorporating Gender into Healthcare and its Effect on

Global Health and the Achievement of the MDGs, Women & Girl Power: Uniting to Build Healthy Societies,

and End and Prevent Violence against Women and Girls, Sport, Nutrition and Healthy Children: Lessons from

Experience, and Non-Communicable Diseases in the Developing World –

Exposing the Myths. It was so interesting to be immersed in such global discussions with various organizations. We all felt very inspired and ready to help contribute to changing the world in as productive a way as possible. After we attended our workshops, we all got straight to working hard. We have an amazing blog set up that everyone has contributed to. Anna used her versatile Final Cut Pro and iMovie skills to help train the other journalists as well as become the director of editing for the documentary. Julia typed furiously as she banged out three impressive articles about her amazing experiences at the conference. I did a little bit of both, and we all grabbed a late night Chinese dinner before retiring for the night.

The next morning we awoke to another delicious breakfast and another press conference briefing. We scattered off to various workshops again and engaged in the hectic journalist lifestyle for the second day. As is typical of journalists who work round the clock, there are always small disasters. We realized we were missing a very important fire wire cord, but never fear, Anna and I set off on a crazy adventure through Melbourne. One taxi ride and several failed attempts at frantically searching malls later, we found the precious cord we were looking for! We made our way back in great time, to find Julia and Stevan working hard to get crucial interviews from various U.N. delegates. After a quick lunch, I headed off to a very inspirational workshop on HIV and TB prevention. I was moved to tears by one of the speakers, who was a survivor of both HIV and TB. I had the pleasure of interviewing this woman, named Lucy Chesire with Anna. We were very grateful for the experience.

We all headed back to the Student Journalist media centre and we continued to furiously write, edit, and film (while downing heaps of free coffee!). At around 8:30 PM, the convention centre shut down, and we had to leave our work for the next day. We had a delicious steak dinner, and began to come to the shocking realization that our next day would be our last day working with Dr. Judy!

So now here I am, working from the Media Centre. I’m currently importing videos in addition to writing this blog entry. Anna, Julia and Dr. Judy are to my right conducting an interview and editing the documentary. I am so excited to see the final product. Sadly, we leave Australia at 11:20 AM tomorrow morning, and head back to Smith College for the first semester of my senior year, and Anna and Julia’s junior year. It has certainly been an amazing whirlwind summer, where we have all gained such important life experience and work ethic. I feel so lucky and blessed to have been given such an amazing opportunity, and to also have met Anna and Julia who are now two of my close friends. So thank you Dr. Judy, Julia and Anna for an amazing summer!

Xoxo Katherine + Julia + Anna

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Reflecting on Being a Teacher’s Assistant

Wow! What a great experience it was being a T.A. for Dr. Judy’s prestigious class, Psychology of Human Intimacy at Columbia University Teacher’s College. Julia, Anna and I spent every Monday night for six weeks assisting Dr. Judy during her nearly four hour lecture class. Each week, I was shocked at how quickly the time went by. Dr. Judy sure has a knack for making education fun and interactive. Not only were her lectures fascinating, but there were always hands on activities in class, which encouraged various stages of intimacy between the classmates.

Julia, Anna and I divided the class into three different sections, and each took on a group of students. It was such a great learning experience noting the differences between undergraduate students, and graduate students. Many of the graduate students had stressful part-time jobs, families, husbands and wives, and a million other summer stresses. This made it difficult for several of the students to hand in their papers on time. It was interesting having to negotiate due dates among the students. It certainly taught me how to delegate, be firm and communicate efficiently.

One of my favorite memories of the Psychology of Human Intimacy class occurred on the last day of class.  All of the students assembled in a circle and  took hold of different spools of different colors of yarn and we tossed the yarn across the circle. The result was a beautiful rainbow colored web in which the students shared their favorite memories of the class. Many students shared that they were so pleased with how unified the class felt and how close many of the students had become with one another as a whole. I felt honored to be a part of such an inspiring and positive class.

Although challenging at times, I truly enjoyed my experience as  T.A. I learned so many valuable life lessons and I met a great group of students. It also gave me a wonderful sneak peak at what graduate school is like, which will be extremely helpful for my future. Working with Julia, Anna and Dr. Judy was as always a pleasure. This was definitely one of the best experiences I had as an intern for Dr. Judy this summer.

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Catching up: Dr. Judy on HLN!

During the past month, Dr. Judy has appeared on the Jane Velez Mitchell show on HLN twice, each time to discuss current issues from a psychological perspective. As interns, we were very lucky to be able to accompany Dr. Judy to the show each time, waiting in a spacious green room and watching the show while Dr. Judy appeared on the show live. The first time we ventured to CNN for Dr. Judy’s appearance on HLN, the topic of the moment was Al Gore’s separation from wife Tipper Gore and, specifically, his sexual advances on a masseuse.

Julia, Katherine, Anna, and Dr. Judy at CNN!

Dr. Judy handled the issue very well; instead of blowing the incident out of proportion like most were, Dr. Judy simply explained that massages can be very arousing, and that situations of this nature arise all the time. While this does not give Al Gore an “excuse” per se, it does provide an explanation. Dr. Judy also mentioned possible causes for the couple’s marital problems separation, particularly exploring Tipper’s possible emotional detachment form Al. We really enjoyed our time at CNN, and it was fun to see Dr. Judy get the “star treatment” in the hair and makeup room.

Dr. Judy’s second appearance on the Jane Velez Mitchell show on HLN was just last week, and Dr. Judy was asked to address Caroline Giuliani’s (Rudy Giuliani’s daughter) shoplifting scandal. Dr. Judy offered that perhaps Caroline’s behavior was a cry for attention; her father is a prominent public figure and perhaps she longed for more attention from him. Dr. Judy also mentioned that divorce is always difficult for children, and that sometimes even years later children will still lash out in response to a traumatic divorce.

Julia and Anna exiting the car on the way back from CNN

It certainly has been an exciting and eventful summer! Glad to catch up with some of the latest news. Now, we move to Australia preparations – Anna, Katherine, and I will be attending the DPI NGO conference in Melbourne: Advance Global Health – Achieving the Millenium Development Goals as student journalists. We are very excited!



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BEA Book Signing 2010

Check out this video that I compiled with help from Katherine and Anna featuring footage from Dr. Judy’s book signing at the Book Expo America 2010!



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Wednesday, June 16: Good Day New York, Ana Tzarev Gallery Opening

Wow! Things have been really busy with Dr. Judy lately. After an eventful Monday at Columbia, Dr. Judy took off for Japan early this morning. We interns are on our own this week, but never fear, we have lots of projects to keep us busy! With three different videos to edit, we will be able to show off our newly acquired Final Cut Pro skills after taking a workshop on the program last week.

Dr. Judy and us at Fox 5 News!

Speaking of last week, we had a very eventful day last Wednesday. It started off bright and early meeting at Fox Studios for the live taping of “Good Day New York”. After posing for a photo-op with a life size cutout of America’s favorite cartoon, The Simpsons, we were ushered upstairs by Fox interns.While making small talk on the elevator, the Fox interns informed us that in addition to the fabulous Dr. Judy’s appearance on the show, Nicole “Snookie” Polizzi from MTV’s popular reality show, The Jersey Shore, would also be in attendance. While Dr. Judy went into hair and makeup, we were escorted into the green room to wait for her. We were greeted by a delicious continental breakfast, with the other guests for the show.

Celebrity Photo Op, with the Simpsons

After the green room, we went right into the studio and sat on the set. It was really interesting to see how fast paced a morning show is, since each segment with each guest is relatively short. I was amazed at the organization and smoothness with which all of the producers, camera people, guests and anchors worked. When it came time for Dr. Judy to be on camera, she spoke about the Al Gore and Tipper Gore separation. Co-anchors Greg Kelly and Rosanna Scotto engaged in a friendly and fast paced banter with Dr. Judy. I was amazed at the poignant commentary from all parties. After Dr. Judy’s segment, we had the privilege of staying on set and watching the other guests, which included author’s of the book Furious Love, which chronicles the love affair between Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. Another guest on the show was the man who invented Cookies n’ Cream ice cream! It was a lot of fun to watch him talk about the art of taste testing ice cream.

Katherine, Anna and Snookie from MTV Reality Show "The Jersey Shore"

After waiting with baited breath, we were finally graced with Snookie’s presence. Snookie talked about her experience with Dr. Siegel’s famous, cookie diet. Watching her was quite the spectacle, and definitely worth the wait. After her brief interview, we were excited to get a photograph with the recently famous Poughkeepsie native. After leaving Fox, we were all shocked to see that the entire adventurous morning had only taken about an hour and a half. We headed back to the office for a productive day of work.

Sunset at Fighting Position One: The Korengal Outpost, Afghanistan, 2006

After work that day we headed to a very fancy art gallery for the opening of “Outpost Afghanistan”, a special exhibition by award winning photojournalist Chad Hunt. The interns and I stared in awe at the photographs of soldiers stationed in Afghanistan, noting that at the time the pictures were taken many of them were younger than us. It was incredible to see the faces of young women and men that risk their lives everyday on the battlefield. We continued to peruse the gallery, walking through New York’s “Who’s Who” of the art crowd, as Dr. Judy informed us. Ana Tzarev also had an exhibit showing, titled Dispossessed, which depicted her travels to Afghanistan. Tzarev has traveled all over the world, much like Dr. Judy, to be inspired by different cultures and landscapes for her art. All of us were especially impressed with Ana Tzarev’s paintings, which were saturated with color, and vibrant even though the subject was often somber. Many of her paintings depicted images of the Taliban, or of prisoners. The paint was almost thickly caked onto the canvasses, creating an impressive 3D effect.

Ana Tzarev's painting; Prisoners, 2001

At the gallery, we had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Judy’s associate Adam Smith and his friend, both from Australia. It was fantastic to experience a real New York gallery opening, and witness amazing creative works about a war that has affected people on a global level. While Anna had to run off to a family function, Julia and I accompanied Dr. Judy and the boys to the Friar’s Club for a fabulous dinner.

After such a glamorous day, we were so excited to see what other surprises this summer with Dr. Judy would bring us!


Katherine and Anna

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May 31st: Marina Abramović at the MoMA

Nude Artist with Skeleton Mirroring Her Position

Two Artists Standing in Exhibit

I met with Dr. Judy at her office on Monday afternoon, we bolted out the door immediately and headed to the Museum of Modern Art to see a performance art piece by Marina Abramović. Abramović’s art is based on being present, a concept that is central to Dr. Judy’s Human Intimacy Class at Columbia. We rushed inside, along with a huge crowd of people to see Abramovićs exhibit called, “The Artist is Present”.  The central piece of the exhibit was that Abramović herself, sitting in a chair for 7-8 hours a day in the middle of the museum, and anyone from the public could come in and sit across from her for however long they wanted. She did this everyday from March 9th to the May 31st when the exhibit closed, in order to connect with people and test herself.

She wore a long white dress that made her look almost statuesque; she sat serenely, barely moving from her position. Every once in a while she would bow her head and close her eyes, but mainly she stared at whomever was across from her. Many of the people that came to sit waited in line for hours, and some became incredibly emotional and began crying.

The rest of the exhibit happened upstairs, where all could see Abramović’s earlier work. She often used her art to push herself to her limits, to discover how much she could endure physically as well as mentally. When we walked into the room, there was a large video screen hanging from the ceiling showing Abramović violently brushing her hair so much that she was in pain. On another wall there were pictures of when she did a performance piece where she sat in front of an audience and took medication intended for catatonic schizophrenics. She then went into a state of shock, began convulsing and became unconscious for a short period of time. When she came to, she calmed down then took medication intended for extremely violent psychiatric patients, and she passed out and became unconscious again, all in front of an audience.

Abramovic, after she took the pill intended for manic schizophrenics

Again, the purpose of her work is to push her to the farthest possible limits, and have a unique experience. Another display of her work included a spread of 70 different objects, ranging from chains, ropes, and knives to sugar cubes, cupcakes, and rose petals. In this performance, Abramović sat in a chair in a public venue, with all of these objects available and asked members of the public to literally do anything they wanted to her with these objects. They could write on her, cut her, or anything they wanted as long as her life was not in danger.

Abramovic, sitting across from a girl in silence

The most jarring part of the exhibit was the nude artists she had recreating her work throughout the museum. There were two nude people, a man and a woman facing each other in a doorway that museum goers were supposed to walk through. It was interesting to see which direction the men and women would turn when passing through these people. It also really challenged the American perception of intimacy. Dr. Judy and I both walked between the nude artists; certainly an unfamiliar experience.

Overall, it was a great experience to see Marina Abramović’s work. After about an hour in the museum, we sped off to Columbia in time for Dr. Judy’s Human Intimacy Class. I was finally beginning to see how fast paced and varied a day with Dr. Judy could be!



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Saturday June 5th: WTC First Responder Day

On Saturday June 5th, Anna, Julia and I ventured off to St. Paul’s Chapel on Broadway and Fulton Street for World Trade Center’s first responders day. We met up with Dr. Judy, her friend Russell Daisy, her mother Sylvia, and Juliane, who is a fellow Smithie who interned for Dr. Judy last summer.

After a bagpipe welcome outside the chapel, the opening ceremony commenced at 11:00 in the morning and featured a variety of speakers who expressed their gratitude for all the hard work that the first responders provided after the events of 9/11. Our own Dr. Judy was one of the first responders after the attacks and worked the night shift at ground zero, prov

iding food and shelter for all of the workers.

The Expressions Performing during the Concert

After the opening ceremony, we walked around the Chapel and looked at the various displays that were put up showing the numerous ways that the responders helped at ground zero. It was an extremely moving exhibit and it was wonderful to see how people helped out during such a difficult time. Dr. Judy and Anna participated in mural painting along with other attendees of the ceremony.  Dr. Judy painted a beautiful purple heart and Anna helped with the sky. The finished mural was beautiful and looked amazing.

More Performers During the Concert

After the mural painting we had a lovely lunch outside as a group overlooking ground zero. Meanwhile, the WTC Responder day was not just limited to the Chapel, there was also a mini film festival at the New York City Police Museum, a bodywork and stress reduction workshop, and music and art workshops occurring at various locations throughout the city.

After our lunch, we all went inside and took our seats for a beautiful concert. There was a wide range of performers including choral groups, firefighters performing original songs, and our very own Dr. Judy and Russell Daisy performing their original song “Towers of Light” with accompaniment from Julia and Juliane. The song is about the two neon light towers that were put in the sky after 9/11 to help the city of New York heal and remember and commemorate their loved ones. Everyone did a phenomenal job, and the song was beautiful. Interspersed in the concert were letters read by responders including Dr. Judy. The letters were ones of gratitude and thanks from children and adults expressing their admiration for the responders and all the hard work they had done. One letter in particular was extremely moving and emotional. A father read a letter he wrote to Mount Sinai, the hospital that helped with a lot of the 9/11 aftermath. In this letter he talked about the suicide of his mentally ill son after he became severely depressed after volunteering as a responder. Several people in the room were moved to tears and shared the pain that this father felt through his emotional letter.

Extremely Moving Speech by a Father of a First Responder

It was a reminder of how traumatic of an event 9/11 truly was, and how important it is to give thanks to the responders who helped so much and volunteered so much of their time and efforts. It was an inspiring day, and I feel lucky and blessed to have been a part of it. We did an excellent job filming the event for video documentation, and we will have a finished product soon since we are taking a class on the video editing program, Final Cut Pro later this week! It was a great event and emotionally loaded day that we all thoroughly enjoyed.


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