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International Women’s Day panel, Thailand 2021

International Women’s Day is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. It is a day to celebrate women’s achievements, raise awareness about women’s equality and support female-focused charities.

I was honoured to be invited by Sisters on Samui as a guest speaker in the theme of “celebrating women’s achievements: to share with us a little of their inspirations, their life journeys, and their involvement in non-profits.”

I spoke about my life’s journey into counselling and international development work, how to follow your dreams and listen to your inner guidance, your natural intuitive side that helps you know where to go when you stop, listen and trust.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thank you to Sala Chaweng prepared a delicious array of sweet and savory snacks, including sandwiches, quiches and baked goods – along with a selection of scones, pastries and cakes; plus unlimited selection of tea or coffee.

Asia Pacific Writers Conference, Indonesia.

On Tue 24th Oct at Ganesha University, a 3 hour (or more realistically, 4 or 5 hour) drive from Denpasar airport in Bali (through stunning mountains I might add), I was on a panel as part of the 3-day Asia Pacific Writers and Translators 10th anniversary conference.

This was my 5th one.

The topic of this 90 minute panel was:

Belonging and Writing:
Exile, Homecoming and Return Narratives.

Just a small topic!

I was one of three on the panel and last minute became the moderator also as ours had to head back home south to Sanur. I was worried that being both moderator and panelist would be a little tricky with Osamah Sami on the panel – an award-winning actor, writer, director and stand-up comedian, with a memoir Good Muslim Boy and movie Ali’s Wedding. A lively and confident personality as you might expect, but also a humble young man born in Iran to Iraqi parents who moved to Australia as a teenager. The panel was rounded off with writer and PhD candidate from Queensland Australia, Sophie MacNeill.

What unfolded quite naturally was a juicy discussion on ‘home’, ‘exile’, ‘belonging’ and ‘identity’ from a Muslim Iranian, Iraqi Aussie, a born and bred Australian Aussie of Irish decent, and a Jewish Australian expat living in Asia. As you can well imagine then, questions of belonging and identity were about as straight forward as our panel’s participant’s stories. ​The audience seemed to really enjoy the discussion and had plenty of questions for us. Thanks to everyone for coming down and thanks to the panel for their honesty and courage in their stories. The 3-day conference was as always, full of incredible authors, editors, translators and publishers. Northern Indonesia was such an incredible place to host such an event, most of us having never adventured to this area before. Here is (some of) the 200-strong gang from over 23 countries.

Every year I take a photo of me with the AP banner, so here is this year’s….

There are many workshops on offer throughout the conference. I feel so fortunate to be meeting with such experienced people in the industry. I went to ‘Editing: An Insider’s Guide’, hosted by Cate Blake from Penguin Random House and Ian See from University of Queensland Press in a small group where we had the opportunity to listen, learn, share and ask questions.

Asia Pacific Writers Conference, Bangkok

The Asia Pacific Writers Conference ‘Reaching the World’ 2013 in  Bangkok was one of the first big writers conferences I have been to.

The CEO Jane Camens invited me to be on a panel as an ’emerging writer’ sitting next to published authors talking about writing ‘the truth’ in non-fiction which is something I am very passionate about. Needless to say I was super excited and slightly terrified when I arrived at this fancy building full of people (who were not in swimsuits and spinning hula hoops on the beach like I am used to).

So this was my lovely panel of female authors and we discussed ‘But it really happened’ to a room full of people. I think I even managed to sound intelligent and not swear. Go me!

Intelligent I might have sounded but my next big problem was the fancy and formal event at the famous Mandarin Oriental Hotel. What am I going to wear? I had borrowed a dress but needed some heels. Here is me trying some on in those enormous Bangkok shopping malls … block heels of course so I can still walk.

Next point of call were manicures and pedicures! Here is poet Elizabeth from Laos and I getting our nails done.

Now they are perfectly pretty to eat delicate chocolate.

Incredible local and traditional entertainment.

But the child that I am, I preferred to hang out with these elephants instead (who promote reading to children… and wierdo older Australian women….)

And then on the last night “a mesmerising evening of readings…”  Yep there is even a pic of me in the flyer … and then here I am actually doing my reading.

All in all an incredible event. Who knew it was to be the the first of many? I think Jane secretly did. Thanks Jane.

Oh but wait, there is more. The conference may be over but the workshops have just begun. Here was my favourite workshop with Fransesca Riddle-Short and our amazing group of women writers.

AND… then I went to Cambodia. Well I was in Bangkok already and Phnom Penh is oh so close I just had to go and visit my favourite people…. in the next blog.