by Guilherme Correia da Silva
Dr. Judy Kuriansky doesn’t sleep very much. In fact, during the last three days of this conference, she has only slept about three hours a night. “I think that sleep is a waste of time,” she said. Walking through the Media Room, stopping to talk to people along the way, she doesn’t seem very tired, though.
With a long blue coat, black and blue striped scarf and black pumps, the clinical psychologist, author and professor then stops to sit with young journalists, giving them feedback on their stories and answering questions.
Because in this room, Dr. Judy Kuriansky is just “Dr. Judy” – and she’s more like Dr. Mom. She co-founded the DPI/ NGO Student Journalism Program, which has been inviting young students from all the over the world to cover the group’s annual conferences. This year, here are the stats: 18 student journalists arrived from all five continents to cover the four round tables and the dozens of workshops and side events for three days.
Dr. Judy says since she started the project seven years ago, things have changed a lot. The students used to print a daily paper. Now it’s a blog. Dr. Judy says even the students themselves have changed.
And she’s not just at this conference. She has organized young journalists to write about other UN topics like Disarmament, Human Rights or Climate Change. Helping to keep the issues in the DPI/ NGO discussions “realistic”, she talks about what everyone can do in their daily lives: simple things like turning off the computer at the end of the day or taking shorter showers. “That’s why I get excited. I like to take these concepts and make them real and applicable”.
Dr. Judy doesn’t sleep very much because, as she puts it, “there are many things to do”.
Aside from running this program, Dr. Judy has a real job as a psychologist and an instructor of psychology at Columbia University in New York. She has authored books like “Terror in the Holy Land” or “Generation Sex”. She gave a hand empowering young girls infected with HIV in Sub-Saharan Africa.
But she is most well known in her own country as a voice of the terror attacks on 9/11. They affected billions of people worldwide. For Dr. Judy it was personal. She is a New Yorker. Her husband was put in a bunker and she couldn’t reach him for days. Dr. Judy volunteered for the Red Cross after the 9/11 attacks in New York. She was assigned to Ground Zero, as part of a mental health team comforting firemen, policemen and electricians that were searching through the Twin Towers debris. Being there for anybody that wanted to talk.
Ten years later, Dr. Judy is worried. On the anniversaries of traumatic experiences like 9/11, the anxieties, fears and memories of the lost return, she says. She is specifically concerned about children’s fears after the attacks.
Before the 10th anniversary celebration this weekend, Dr. Judy still has a lot to do. Her next big volunteering effort: bringing traumatized New York children dolls made by other kids from earthquake-damaged Haiti and Japan and by helping them make dolls to send in return as part of the 9/11 commemoration.
But first she has to see off all DPI/ NGO students, who have worked hard blogging for the conference – another big check off Dr. Judy’s to-do list. And then, for a few days in between, maybe Dr. Mom will have time to take a deep breath.