by Shannon Preston, Diocese of Minnesota
New York didn’t seem like such a big city until it was time to sleep yesterday and there were people and traffic on the streets late into the night (maybe into the morning?).
We spent today at the Orientation for Ecumenical Women, the NGO we will be participating with throughout the week. We arrived to a large room full of women and a few men of multiple generations from all over the world. We began the day with a service which included a beautiful liturgical dance. The morning was broken into three sessions: language, advocacy, and a final reflection on oneness, power, and diversity. In the second part one of the panelists spoke about dialogue not as a methodology but rather an attitude. True dialogue cannot go on if we see ourselves at different levels, as Christians, we cannot share the good news if we think we have power over another.
For the third part I was in a small group with two women from Sierra Leone and another from England. I learned a lot from our discussion on what histories we do and do not know. The women from Sierra Leone knew very well how their country was related to England and the fact that the Queen may not be coming for Sierra Leone’s upcoming Independence Day. The woman from England wondered why a country once colonized by the English would want to see the Queen and they responded they would like her to be there so she can see the improvements they have made as a country. It was beautiful to be a part of and witness a new understanding through dialogue. Also, from that conversation and sharing in the large group we discussed how notions on singular identities limit who we truly are and deny our complete and whole humanity.
We had a delicious lunch both in taste and conversation. Every person I have met is so excited, energized, and ready to empower other through sharing and hearing stories. Following lunch we talked more depth about advocacy. This year’s theme at the UNCSW is access and participation of women and girls to education, training, science and technology, including for the promotion of women’s equal access to full employment and decent work. We broke into small groups and looked at different sections in the agreed conclusions that will result from the CSW. We are looking at language and ideas that need to stay or may be missing. The group I was in looked at making science and technology responsive to women’s needs. We went through the six subsections and added a few words and tried to clarify meanings. The intention being we will pass this information on to our member state consultant (I don’t know if that is their real title) which would show up in the final version of the agreed conclusions of the 55th Commission on the Status of Women.
The orientation ended with an energized service in the Church Center’s chapel complete with tambourines and shakers.
Following some of us in the EYAD went to Time Square to rush tickets for the evening. The holiday weekend sent us another direction but as we walked around Time Square I was not sure if I had ever seen so many beautiful people in one day, all the people at the day’s orientation and so many people in Time Square. I am used to looking at trees, sky, and water but instead was looking at all the different people that were in NYC at that moment. We ended up going out to dinner and thought I knew my etiquette but froze up a little (as in about one second as the company is quite an enjoyable and non-judgmental bunch, including Michelle who I was so excited to here has hosted a Harry Potter murder mystery party) when I may have sent my knife back too early (this mistake I can only blame myself for), but after having the s’more bread pudding I did not have too many concerns about anything! I hope that we all dream sweetly after that.