Week 2 In Photos

The second week of Moxie has passed and boy was it a busy one! Here’s what my fellow Moxies and I have been  up to this past week:

June 14, 2015 – Exploring the City Together (Thank You Google Maps)











June 15, 2015 – On That Work Grind 

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June 16, 2015 – Running Along The HarborIMG_1497

June 17, 2015 – Choices Reproductive Health Clinic Visit

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June 18, 2015 – Unexpected Visit to The Hospital (I’m okay, just accidentally ate some nuts and had an allergic reaction… Casual day.)


June 19, 2015 – Exploring New Cafe’s (Cafe FIKA)

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June 20, 2015 – Shopping and Conference Day (Abby went to the Women Action Media Conference! She got to see Alicia Garza, co-creator of #BlackLivesMatter!!!)

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We’re Not In Durham Anymore…

I’m going to start this first blog post out by summarizing my DukeEngage experience so far in ten activities:

  1. Saw a Broadway show, Fun Home
  2. Walked 12 miles in 1 day
  3. Read through 100+ articles on domestic violence and intimate partner violence
  4. Went to Toys R Us (twice)
  5. Rode a subway by myself for the first time
  6. Visited a Women’s Reproductive Health Clinic (Choices) and met Merle Hoffman
  7. Went to the Museum of Sex (didn’t even know this existed!)
  8. Got Ice-cream/ Fro-yo from 4 different places
  9. Walked around Bryant Park
  10.  Saw Laverne Cox

And we’ve only been here for less than two weeks…


While I am still in culture shock and in complete awe of the fact that I am in New York City and because of this I am often slowing down our pack of Moxies (sorry girls!) as we travel around, taking my time looking at everything and everyone I see, I have also grown more aware of my identity as a woman and have viewed many of my experiences through my ever-developing feminist lens.

I am going to begin with what you probably weren’t expecting me to write: I’ve had many encounters so far in the city that I initially thought to myself “hey, it’s not so bad being a woman!”


I open my wallet to pull out my credit card to pay for my Starbucks, searching frantically, I realize I left it in my other bag. Oh shit. And as I look up to apologize profusely to the cashier because she already rang up my order and sharpied up my cup for the drink, she nods to the guy behind me and says “he got it – don’t worry”.  Wow. That was really nice. Would he have spotted me if I were a man? Don’t think so… On the Moxie scavenger hunt, we needed to take a picture in front of the Feminist Press, but the office was closed. Batting our lashes at the security guard, he let us into the building and guided us upstairs to our prized landmark and even took the picture for us (we really wanted to win).  I kept thinking that if we were men and not cute, college girls would he have been so nice as to help us score those extra four scavenger hunt points? Probably not.  And finally, I’d like to give a shout out to the random nice guy who was walking next to me and offered to help me carry my five whole foods shopping bags right before I wrote this blog.  After each of these instances I thought: “hey, being a woman isn’t so bad!”


Although the simple, almost normalized gesture for a man to hold open a door for me is certainly very considerate and much appreciated, it is interesting to wonder where that act of consideration stems from.  Why are women considered incapable of holding open a door? Why do men feel like they need to assist women with well, everything?


Yes, there are certainly “perks” from being considered the weaker sex – free coffee, help on a scavenger hunt, and a seat on the subway –  but if these “perks” stem from an ideology in which men should control women and regard them as lesser, then are they really perks at all? Perhaps I shouldn’t be so cynical and just accept and appreciate these acts of kindness, but what if the motive for this unasked-for “kindness” stems from the very same reasoning that is preventing millions upon millions of women from being able to make decisions about their own reproductive choices?  Why are primarily male-controlled legislatures creating laws that are prohibiting women from determining when or if they want to carry their children?


While being offered a seat on the subway or walking through an opened door may seem like petty examples of male dominance that are not worth lamenting over, as I have learned through both the Moxie seminars and working as an intern for the National Judicial Education Program at Legal Momentum, the male desire for power, control, and the objectification of women tragically manifests most clearly in domestic violence.  In just my first week and a half interning, I have already spent hours pouring over materials discussing intimate partner violence, teen dating violence and domestic violence.  I’m excited to continue to expand my knowledge on domestic violence and to advocate for battered women by writing materials about intimate partner violence for judges to read and hopefully apply in the courtroom.

I have never had such an amazingly packed week!  I can’t wait to see what other experiences await us Moxies – who have become like my sisters in less than two weeks. So, in addition to all the enriching and exciting activities that will help me to sharpen and develop my feminist lens, I will end with just ten of the MANY things that I want to do before August and hopefully I can get to all of them:

  1. Visit the Statue of Liberty
  2. March in a Gay Pride Parade
  3. Wake up everyday at 7 am for my Barre class
  4. Try EVERY dish of ice cream at the Big Gay Ice Cream Parlor
  5. Walk around Central Park
  6. Be able to navigate the city (google-map free)
  7. Eat at the Hardrock Cafe
  8. Go to the top of the Empire State Building
  9. Ride on the Staten Island Ferry
  10. Meet a NJB haha 🙂

Has it really been only one week?

Greetings from the Big Apple!

Here I am! After two delays and one layover, I  made it to New York City in one piece. After thirty minutes trying (and failing) to hail a cab, I realized you needed to wait in line for them.

In the taxi I asked my driver,

Me: “Do you like living in NYC?”

Him: “No, there are too many people, I want to move to the South!”

Had this guy ever been to the South? While I love Durham and its southern charm, I will leave my qualms with the South for another day. I refused to let my driver kill my exploding child-like curiosity and wonder for New York City.

He wasn’t kidding. On a Sunday night at 10 pm where the streets of Seattle would be quiet, 14th street was bustling and hustling with people grocery shopping and going along their merry ways.

I truly understand now why Duke kids simply call it “the city”.

Learning to adjust to New York City’s lifestyle and the Moxie Program has been quite the learning curve. Here are some lessons I have learned thus far:

1. Grocery shopping is no joke.

Be alert and be ready. When you go grocery shopping, be prepared to stand in a line for the actual line. Small talk at the check out line is not a thing, so do not try it.

2. There are runners, but they are hiding.

As an avid runner, I feared the inhabitants of New York to be the slaves of gyms or yoga studios. On my first run I felt very self conscious that I was running. There were a lot of people staring, and I the more I tried to blend in the more staring I got. However as the street I was running on ran into the Hudson, the holy grail of running came upon me.

Uninterrupted stretch of pavement for bikers, runners, and walkers. I had found them, my people! Runners everywhere! This instance is a perfect example of how NYC uses space in creative ways. Walk anywhere and you can see small parks between buildings, coffee shops where only two people can fit, or tiny basement restaurants. In a city where space is limited, no space has gone unclaimed.

3. The subway is peacefully chaotic.

First day on the subway I couldn’t have been more excited. I felt adult and professional in my first day of work clothes.

Little did I know the subway is not for smiles. When you walk down those stairs and pull out your Metrocard something changes. No longer am I the friendly energetic person that I aim to be, but rather a woman with a silent purpose. I join the mass heading to my train and walk next to strangers. On the train Julia and I keep talk to a minimum and listen to the hum of the tracks.

This transformation came out of necessity. Go slowly you don’t get on the train, speak too loudly and you get looks, stare too long and someone says something. Running for your train, unlike the Duke buses, is completely acceptable. The subway is loud and chaotic. There are people going every which way, trains going different directions, people singing, people fighting, smells of food and urine.  Amid all this disorder, the subway is calming.   Here is a place where hundreds, nay thousands of people come through all with different lives, different places to go, and I am just one amid the crowd.

4. Street Harassment is more prevalent in our society than I could have imagined.

While the city continues to inspire, wow, and confuse me with its wonders, the most eye opening experience I have had so far is my work at Hollaback. Julia and I are responsible for approving stories for the Hollaback website. These stories are evidence and proof to the scope of street harassment targeted towards women, and LGBTQ community members. What struck me most was the scale in which these acts of harassment occur. Never before had I even heard of masturbating on the subway or groping as a means of street harassment. These acts occur every day all around the world and in the city. While I have experienced the “hey baby,” or yesterday’s “you and me tonight baby.” I haven’t had the very graphic and physical harassment that some of these women experience. My ignorance is indication of why Hollaback’s storytelling platform is crucial towards opening this often closed conversation.

So many of us are defined by our own personal experiences and forget that other people have difference experiences from our own.

So many or us do not take street harassment seriously because we don’t experience it in the same ways.

5. My fellow Moxies are hilarious, passionate and the coolest people I’ve met.

I guess getting thrown into the city to fend for ourselves was really the best way to bond. It is crazy to think I have only known these girls for little over a week. Each one has made their mark on me in a unique and wonderful way. Has it really been only one week?

Until next time,


Week 1 In Photos

I love taking pictures therefore I have decided to try and do a weekly photo series where I post one picture per day to highlight a little bit of either my day or of my fellow Moxie’s day here!

Day 1: June 7, 2015 – Move In Day

June 7

Photo Found in Washington Square Park


Day 2: June 8, 2015 – First Day of Work

June 8Photo taken waiting for the 4/5 train at Union Square.


Day 3: June 9, 2015 – Museum Mile Festival

June 9


Photo taken walking back home from the Museum of New York


Day 4: June 10, 2015 – ULA Work TripJune 10

Photo taken at New Visions High School in Brooklyn (Work for Urban Leaders Academy)


Day 5: June 11, 2015 – Moxies Get Lost Day 

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June 11







Photos taken lost in New York 


Day 6: June 12, 2015 – 9-11 Memorial Visit

June 12

Photo taken at 9-11 Memorial Site


Day 7: June 13, 2015 – Scavenger Hunt Begins!

June 13

Photo taken in Times Square heading to Fun Home


Lost in the Land of Contradictions

I’ve been in New York City less than a week. So far, I’ve managed to:

1. Get lost three times

2. Meet the amazing staff at NDWA (my worksite)

3. Almost sit in a pile of excrement on a subway bench

4. Survive a sudden and unexpected rainstorm

5. Learn how to use google alerts

6. Cause a sweet potato to explode in the microwave (on accident!)

7. Go for a pleasant run along the Hudson River

8. Get harassed on the street on four occasions

9. See the wonder that is Central Park

It’s been an exciting fews days.

What’s struck me the most about the city is its plethora of contradictions: A rose bush next to a heap of garbage. Efficient check-out lines in a chaotic Whole Foods. An upscale yoga class taking place next to a sleeping homeless person. A welcoming non-profit sheltered from abrasive city-life.

Yesterday, during a staff-study at my worksite, I and many of my coworkers gathered to learn about undocumented Latina women who also encountered contradictions in their lives, but on a much more serious scale. Our lecturer, Nancy Morales, taught a class on Latina domestic workers at Ithaca College and is currently working towards her PhD in the Feminist Studies program at UC Santa Barbara.

Morales took us through a brief history of Immigration legislation.

In 1986, the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) was passed. IRCA granted amnesty to millions of undocumented immigrants, but it also established penalties for employers who knowingly hired undocumented immigrants. The combined affect of these two provisions restricted public assistance and social services to immigrants. In fact, immigrants faced a 5 year bar from receiving any type of public assistance.

Contradiction #1: Undocumented Latinas had the freedom to live in the U.S. yet they did not have access to resources they need to actually live in the U.S.

Latinas also had difficulty supporting their families because of uneven welfare policies. Lawmakers initially designed welfare to help women stay at home. The idea was that provisions from the state would make it so that women did not need to work, but rather, could stay home and care for their families.

Historically, women of color have performed reproductive labor for privileged white women. This societal construction greatly influenced welfare policy. Lawmakers assumed that more jobs existed for women of color because women of color had so heavily occupied the reproductive labor sector from the time of slavery. They saw no need to design laws that benefited working women, when unemployed, privileged, white women so clearly needed help. For example, the Mother’s Pension Program–established in the early 1900s–was exclusively for “fit mothers” with “suitable homes” (read: white women). At their own discretion, social workers rejected women of color’s requests for public assistance.

Contradiction #2: Even documented Latinas who needed public assistance were denied the Welfare that should have been designed to aid them.

The legacy of discriminatory welfare programs like the Mother’s Pension Program in conjunction with the continued efficacy of IRCA shape the lives of Latina Immigrants. Moreover, harsh, racist stigmas make them susceptible to arrest, deportation, and separation from their children. Morales provided this as an example.

Contradiction #3: The place many Latinas come to build a better life for their children–the United States–treats them with hostility.

They deserve better.


First Impressions

I stepped out of the car after my two-hour drive to New York and could not believe that it would be my home for the next two months. I have never been the hugest fan of cities, but after just three days in the city, I am glad to say I really like living in New York so far. Everything feels reachable and accessible. Everyone seems to be walking the streets with a purpose. While I feel like a fish out of water, I’m trying not to make it too obvious that I’m from out of town.

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My first commute to work was surprisingly eventful. The Moxie who is interning with me at Hollaback!, April, and I were walking to Union Square Station where we passed someone who I knew from home (it’s quite a small world) and then we spotted Brooke Shields. Not bad for the first day in the Big Apple.

What also occurred on this short walk to the station was unsurprising. April and I passed two construction workers on the sidewalk. One looked at us, moving his eyes up and down our bodies, and said “hi there,” while the other one said “las guapas” in a taunting voice. We ignored the comments and kept walking, but I was thinking to myself, “just because you’re harassing us in another language doesn’t mean we can’t understand it.” This catcalling experience was certainly not the first, nor the last, that I will encounter during my time in New York and beyond. An experience like this makes me angry, and also makes me thankful that I will have the opportunity to intern at Hollaback! this summer.

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In my past three days at Hollaback!, I have been in awe of how a small idea grew into such a successful, meaningful and massive project. Founded by seven individuals in 2005, Hollaback! was originally not a non-profit organizations, but was an outlet for women and LGBTQ individuals to share their street harassment stories. However, the executive director, Emily May, decided to take her initiative to the next level and start a non-profit. The organization has since grown immensely, with many national and international chapters.

Today at Hollaback!, we went to the Father’s Day Pledge to End Domestic Violence. A small group of about 75 people gathered outside Manhattan’s City Hall, many holding signs from their organizations that promote an end to gender-based violence. While I held the Hollaback! sign in the hot sun for about an hour, I observed the crowd of people—primarily black and latino men—who were fighting for gender equity. Attending this rally reinforced for me that feminists come in all different genders, races, ethnicities and walks of life.

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Just The Beginning

I made it! It’s only the first day of my internship and I am already so incredibly excited for the rest of the summer. This program so far has been everything Ada (our program director) said it would be: intense, fun, exhausting, exhilarating, and challenging. I have never felt so many emotions in such a short span of time. I think I must have aged at least five years.


From being thrown into the city, completely on our own to figure out how to survive in our bare apartments, to being told we had to figure out how to feed ourselves for every single meal it’s been a lot to take in. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love it! I have never felt so independent and can already tell this summer is going to prepare me for adulthood beyond Duke. Here’s a recap of my first two days here:


Day 1: Sunday June 7, 2015

Since I arrived first out of all of the Moxies, I felt like a pioneer settling a new, foreign land that was to be our new home for the next two months. My solitude allowed me to reflect and realize how challenging psychologically and physically this summer would be for me. Once the other Moxies got to New York we ran around the city doing errands… I have never appreciated the convenience of a car quite like I did that day when I had to lug a microwave around the city. I felt like I had done a full body workout.

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Day 2: Monday June 8, 2015

Our first day at work! Sai and I are working at Girls for Gender Equity. GGE is located in Brooklyn so, we had to take the subway to get to their office. I am so proud we managed to get there without any trouble and also were early enough to buy some food. Our actual time in the GGE office was surprising not anxiety filled. As a naturally anxious person, I was worried that I was going to have to be on my toes the entire time to get used to the people, their office norms, and personalities. It was actually the exact opposite. From the very beginning I was completely comfortable. Everyone we spoke to was welcoming and eager to talk to us or explain something we did not understand. It made for a very conducive environment for curiosity and allowed me to feel comfortable speaking up during conversations to ask for explanations about terminology I did not understand. By the end of the day, I had a firmer understanding of the background of GGE, its people, and the different programs within the organization. I cannot wait for what is still to come, this is just the beginning!

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Until next time,


A Peep Into the Craziness of New York City

When I was very little, I pictured Wall Street as a sacred nest full of insanely brilliant intellectuals who determine the direction for global financial and cultural development. The time for me to doubt my belief came sooner than I thought.

“Wall Street is not that intellectually exclusive after all,” I said to myself after getting lost trying to find a place that I knew was no more than three minutes away from the place I work.

With more and more daily encounters bearing a strong NYC brand, I am forced to get used to the idea that I am actually living in the big apple where everything could happen. Running into celebrities have literally been happening on a daily basis among Moxie members. Monday: Brooke Shields; Tuesday: Lavern Cox; Wednesday: Taylor Swift. It might not be long before we start a data sheet with the title: who is next?

Of course, interesting NYC experiences do not all come in the form of attractive celebrities walking down the street. Subway could be a great public transportation, but also a place where we could witness some very unusual situations. Abby, one of our Moxie girls, almost accidentally sat on a giant pile of poop on her first day to work. It would probably be a better story if she DID accidentally sat on that giant pile of poop. Nonetheless, the reason why subway seats have such unconventional decorations remains a mystery to us all.

So, two lessons learned from first three days of life in NYC:

  1. Always on the look out for celebrities.
  2. Shit happens on subways, literally.

The smell of NYC did not stop outside my workplace. While my director and all the other people I am working with in Sanctuary for Families are incredibly kind and helpful, I am surprised to see myself jumping into a pile of work in a professional setting that I am not at all familiar with. What surprised me even more was how fast I adjusted to this completely new lifestyle. While college life could be stressful, I could always find time for a refreshing walk or a short nap whenever I needed. In a professional setting, I am expected to be focusing on my work from 10-5pm. Instead of using a ridiculous amount of caffeine to keep myself awake, I found no difficulty in completing all my duties and read as many related articles on domestic violence and sex trafficking as possible. My job succeeded in keeping me awake and energetic, which is a really impressive achievement considering my obsession and super high demand for sleep. I feel lucky that I am working on issues that I am genuinely interested in, and have learned so much on the topic already.

It’s only been three days, NYC and its unique craziness are still slowly unfolding. Despite its fast-pace, stress and weird happenings, I think it’s safe to say I’m falling in love with the city already.

Challenge Me

It was my first day working in the big city. I had to take the subway from Manhattan to the heart of Brooklyn. Now, keep in mind, I am not from a big city so I’m very new to the experience of street harassment. I also pride myself on having a resting bitch face, especially when I’m focused on where I need to get. Going to work, there were only two instances where men called out to me that didn’t really get to me. I have heard the stories of the New York street, so I prepared for that part. When I was returning to Manhattan a little after 6pm, I got on the subway hoping to just get back to my dorm as soon as possible to go to sleep. There was one seat on the edge of the 3 seats together, closest to two that are perpendicular to it. There was a man with his bag closest to the window and his body splayed out into the aisle, and touching the only open seat in the row of three. I decided to sit down and said excuse me, although not as forcefully as I’m normally wont to. I bumped a few of the papers he was reading and he got angry and said “you could at least say sorry.”

imageI smiled and said “my bad,” while thinking, hey you little sh*t, you’re taking up too much space on the subway, it’s f#€£ing cramped and people are going to touch your sh*t if you’re invading the space of 4 different seats. Obviously, it was a long day and I was jet lagged. Then he kept talking as if to explain why he was reading the papers I had bumped, and he said that he was going back to college to become rich. I just smiled and looked forward, not as to comply with his speaking but to make sure nothing escalated if I were too rude. At this point, I’m not sure where polite, naive, bitch, and smart intersect. No one is entitled to my time, personal space, or body. Yet at the same time, social cues of politeness are to interact with someone that is trying to converse with you. Is there really a perfect or set time to have that type of conversation? Anyways, he was silent for a little bit while I just stared at my phone trying to figure out the subway lines/trains from a map. After the next stop, he leaned over and apologized for being so angry and told me that he wasn’t normally like that, it wasn’t him. Then he asked me for my name. 3 times. I politely smiled, because I wasn’t sure how to proceed in all honesty, and told him I didn’t really like to give that kind of information out. He told me his name and I said nice to meet you. He then apologized and I thanked him, said not to worry about it because the subway is cramped and then stared back at my phone. I could feel his eyes on me and knew that he wanted to keep conversing but he stopped. He was able to read that I didn’t want to converse and I actually appreciated that because I have heard subway stories that ended very differently. At the next stop, a homeless man asking for money got on the train. He went up and down the train asking for spare change, talking about how he hadn’t eaten in four days. I kept staring at my phone, not feeling comfortable engaging with him or giving him money. The only person on the train for two stops who even moved to give him money was the guy who had apologized for getting angry about me bumping him.
It is not always bad people that street harass. It is not always people who decide they can’t take no for an answer that street harass. Sometimes there is a fine line between responding to street harassment and politeness along with street harassment and talking to a stranger.
The street harassment that No Disrespect is challenging is the one that has to do with power and entitlement. It is when a cisgendered man (most of the time) decides that he can talk to and demand a response from someone that he sees/notices on the street, in a car, on a train, etc. Newsflash: no one is obliged to feed your ego. Just because one person wants to start a conversation does not mean that another person has to engage in that conversation. It’s not anyone’s job. That should be respected as opposed to being seen as rude. Entitlement is something that I have to challenge in myself everyday, but it’s different than a man’s type of entitlement. This summer, I want to work on checking the entitlement I have while challenging the entitlement that men have. I want to explore why men think it’s okay for them to expect a response from someone they’ve never met.
The next two days with the subway were a breeze. I can even listen to my music on low without fear of missing a stop, which I’m proud of. My organization is run by intelligent, driven, and compassionate people. I’m beyond excited to learn everything they’re willing to teach me. I’m getting the actual experience of working for a local non-profit and how little things matter. There is a beautiful connection between how change can start and what change can mean. My experience this summer will see change at a local level. We will challenge the assumptions of the people of BedStuy to think critically about why they feel such entitlement. Change starts on the local level and engaging our communities. Only then can change actually affect a whole population. There is a domino effect that is possible when change comes from a community. This summer is about challenging the way that I see things. One is how I see and react to street harassment and to understand the different sides explaining it. Another is to see how change occurs in the individual and particular communities as opposed to the population and laws.