CYGNA @50 and Christmas celebration 2022

Reports on our 50th (!!!) CYGNA meeting. Strikes thwarted our big plans, but we still had fun.

Since founding CYGNA in 2014 we have had 30 physical meetings in London-based universities. When COVID-19 hit, we moved meetings online and ran 16 virtual meetings between May 2020 and March 2022. From 2022-2023 onwards we will combine virtual and physical meetings.

We had planned a big "birthday bash" for our 50th meeting, complete with a celebratory cake, CYGNA tumblers and backpacks (see our May meeting) and a special Christmas present for all. We even managed to book the completely revamped VC Board Room at Middlesex University.

Unfortunately, December 2022 turned out to be the "highlight" of a winter of strikes and there were transport strikes all week, compounded by wintry roads (see pictures below, courtesy of Christa Sathish). Hence, we were forced to celebrate our Christmas meeting online for the third time in a row.

Two angels to the rescue

Although we were all disappointed, we were determined to still make if a fun meeting. As I was a bit deflated after seeing all my organizing efforts go up in flames, I was immensely grateful when Ciara O'Higgins and Christa Sathish volunteered to organize the meeting so that the CYGNA organizing team could sit back and relax. The CC team rocks!

We had 31 participants in our meeting, 30 of which are shown above (sorry Cordula, the picture was taken before you joined!). As we met in the afternoon instead of early morning, we missed most of our Asia-Pacific members for whom it was the middle of the night. However, it did mean we could welcome two North American first timers: Malika Richards and Yonjoo Cho.

Half of the participants came from outside the UK, including from France, Germany, Ireland, Kazakhstan, Poland, Singapore, Spain, the Netherlands. Four more CYGNA members attended for the first time: Dorota Piaskowska, Rany Salvoldi, Alexia Mary Tzortzaki, and Kim Coogan.

Diversity of the CYGNA network

Ciara and Christa had come up with a whole suite of fun activities. First, we had 20 minutes in which we were asked to raise our Zoom hands if we were able to say yes to a list of carefully chosen questions. It was a great way to show the diversity of the group as well as what we have in common. It also illustrated how members have connected with each other outside the meetings.

  • This is my first CYGNA meeting
  • I am (live) not in the UK, I am in another European country
  • I am (live) outside Europe
  • I have organised a CYGNA meeting
  • I am a PhD student
  • I am a journal editor 
  • I have met up other CYGNA members at a conference
  • I have started to co-author with another CYGNA member that I met through CYGNA

Break-out rooms

Second we had four break-out rooms in which CYGNA members got to know each other and talked about one of these four questions.

  • How do you enjoy or survive the holiday season?
  • Who are you outside academia?
  • What are your craziest academic experiences?
  • What are you grateful for in 2022? 

We had also planned for a Secret Santa, but everyone enjoyed the free chat so much that we didn't get to that part of the meeting. If you would like to read about our previous Secret Santa events, have a look at our two earlier Christmas meetings to discover our early childhood dreams and who became a millionaire at a conference.

CYGNA @50 board

As this was our 50th meeting we also asked members to share a few words about what CYGNA meant to them on a Padlet. The word-cloud below is a perfect summary of what CYGNA aims to be: a friendly, kind, inclusive, and supportive community, providing a safe space/place to exchange ideas, share experiences, provide advice, inspire, and learn. We think that's pretty amazing :-).

Some of the longer answers were not easy to translate into our word count and are reproduced below.

From my first meeting in 2016 and through today, Cygna has been a source of inspiration and support. It is the only group in which a question that I send to a member gets a response in a couple of hours, no matter whether the question is addressed to someone who I know very well or only by name. The trust and good will embedded in the network is extraordinary -- a testament of the love, care and purpose that the founding members have put in the network. Thank You All! 

A safety net of safety and comfort in an increasingly aggressive world, and an example of generosity in the age of greed. Here's to many more years to come! 

A safe space in which we listen to and support each other, share and learn, give each other practical advice, find new collaborators, test out ideas, and have a great laugh together! A community of women academics who are (successfully) working towards making academia a better place for everybody.

Unique academic network which embodies Amy Edmondson’s concept of psychological safety through which we share and learn, grow and develop as individuals and scholars, scholarly teams and organizations.

A super supportive, welcoming and generous community; a safe space to exchange ideas, learn with each other; a group of enthusiastic women eager to share their experiences for the benefit of others; a brilliant environment encouraging to pause and reflect. 

A kind and understanding network/community of colleagues and friends, from which I draw much comfort and inspiration. I always look forward to meetings and feel energised and re-spirited afterwards. Thank you everyone, not least our fabulous convenors!

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