How lucky am I? I won a scholarship from AADF and got recruited at Luminary in New York, I found by my own a whole apartment for myself and here I am living the NYC dream when this pandemic happened.
I know it is selfish, well most of you have been complaining about your trip’s cancelations, events etc.
New York City and the whole world is living in a full uncertainty and this is the worst feeling, it doesn’t matter if you are in Tirana or New York, Milano or London, the hospitals have collapsed everywhere, and the only solution is to stay home and isolate.
I have been living in New York City for almost 4 months working for an amazing company and most of my days were spent working at Luminary premises until the evening. Luminary is an excellent working environment that provides events for their members and different workshops. A normal day for me starts at 9:30 AM and continues up to 9:00 PM depending on how many events we have. Well it is Manhattan, with crazy schedules and it is normal for people to work and network until late. Yes, it was exhausting but at the same time it was satisfying to work with a driven staff and implementing beautiful projects and getting appreciation from our members. Those were 4 fabulous months of running, hustling and learning.
NYC is not all fun and games, yes I have been enjoying the MET Museum, my favourite place in New York, MET opera, MOMA, cocktail bars, restaurants and all that jazz and don’t get me wrong, it is an expensive city you can’t make it based on a scholarship. It is a wild city, who does not wait for anyone and you have to be very proactive and run to get to work, to get in that meeting to get that N train (New York trains are the worst definitely, dirty and late) to get to that afternoon event, to get out in the evening etc. I can complain about this city the whole week but then something happens and this city impresses you in the most impressive way possible, it is full of art and great performers, special events that you cannot find randomly in the capitals of Europe, It is full of lights and it is breath-taking to see Manhattan from a rooftop in the middle of that jungle, from Williamsburg bridge across the river or from your uber window at 3 AM while you get back in Queens like Cinderella.
This is almost a ghost town now. It is unbelievable to watch all that wildness disappear, watching Times Square totally empty it is so unusual and sad. Everyone is escaping this city flying to any island, traveling south, or either going to Hamptons or Vermont. Same as the earthquake situation in Tirana and Durrës when everyone escaped south, I couldn’t do it then, it felt like I was abandoning my city and even though I am not a New Yorker I felt the same this time unwilling to leave this city, although I had an idea to go to Vermont (too expensive for an entire month)
I wouldn’t prefer to be in a different place in the world right now even though New York is facing really high numbers of infected people and it is the most dangerous city to be right now. I literally live 3 blocks away from Mount Sinai Hospital in Queens.
New Yorkers are really fast. I started experiencing the covid-19 situation on the first week of march when it escalated in Albania and 2 workshops that I had planned for my start up Network Tribe got cancelled, at first I was so sceptical to accept the whole situation and believing that people were panicking over the ocean while New York was running with the same rhythm as nothing was happening in Europe. Observing the situation in Tirana and all over Europe was like observing what the future would bring one week later in USA but still no one could believe that Manhattan would shut down. New Yorkers are fast and control freaks, they kept hustling against the global flow, to keep their businesses running. I remember the last week at work we worked super-fast to transition everything online, we were getting ready, events were cancelled one by one, people were coming less and less in our premises at Luminary. Trains became a horrible place to be. But in this last month I have learned some things differently than what I could have learned before or that I will learn after this pandemic. It is incredible how these people pivot, watching my boss manage this situation of crisis for her company was the best practice I could ever ask. In one week, we shifted everything to digital, we changed our methods of communication with clients and developed all events virtually. We managed to implement all our events virtually in March, organizing not only workshops but also community events, giving people the opportunity to connect with one another through, Happy Hours, Coffee with, The coworking.
By the way it was inspiring to see my boss Cate Luzio being tested positive with Covid-19, while working relentlessly and leading by example. I am lucky because I participated and implemented the virtual events with my colleagues, we all learned together by this new situation. It is still a new process. I am trying to bring the same approach in Albania through my work with Network Tribe and it is satisfactory to see the business community in Albania accustomed to have virtual sessions with international trainers. And yes, now we are in quarantine, everyone is working from home but still we get to be very busy in zoom meetings and virtual workshops, it is not all fun and games, it is hard to keep the motivation, but we managed to be connected. I fancy New Yorkers because they react so fast to change, they are really hard workers and innovative. I don’t think I would ever get this kind of experience if I was anywhere else in the world right now.
Hopping that things will get better soon, until than XO XO from NYC.
Ornela Sulçe, MIP Fellow