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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