Feeling powerless isn’t in Tanya Halkyard’s DNA. She grew up hearing stories about her great-great-great-great aunt, Susan B. Anthony, who blazed a trail through 19th century American politics, championing the abolition of slavery, votes for women, and other causes considered radical, if not outright insane, at the time. But Tanya never imagined, when she moved to Rome in 2011 to start a language school, that she would find herself on the front lines fighting for causes – such as gender and racial equality — that apparently haven’t progressed as much as we’d thought since Susan B. Anthony’s time.
“After November’s election, I mourned for a day.” Tanya told me. “And the next day, I got to work.”
Her first act was founding American Expats for Positive Change Italy. She then reached out to the Women’s March, Progressive Action Global Exchange (PAGE), Americans Resisting Overseas, Democrats Abroad Italy, and many other international, national, and local organizations. She coordinates with them on marches, protests, contact-your-reps campaigns, and a host of other activities. I was delighted that Tanya’s team joined the #VirtualTaxMarchlaunched by my group, American Resistance Seville.
“Living abroad does give me a different perspective on American politics,” Tanya says, speaking of her international news sources, conversations with people from all over the world, and opportunities to watch European political dramas unfold over time. She’s able to “see what’s important globally. Now I think that having a president who can represent the country in a diplomatic way is really important. And making enemies abroad is not a good idea. Pulling out of the Paris Climate Accord was really about international relations; [the president] was saying, ‘I don’t want to work with the international community.’ Part of being an American living in Italy is trusting that Italy and America are going to be friends. When my president makes an enemy, it changes the dialog about who I am and how people are going to perceive me.”
In these turbulent times, Tanya is steadfast in her confidence that the Resistance is working. “We are far away from home,” her website says. “But we cannot give in to feeling powerless. Now more than ever we need to get involved and stand up for our beliefs. We must work together to make change. If you're wondering what you can do, join us, and we will figure it out together.”
This video is Episode 2 of my ongoing series Women of the American Resistance. You can view the complete series here on this website, on YouTube, my blog Enjoy Living Abroad, and American Resistance Sevilla; many episodes appear on Americans Resisting Overseas and other social media sites. Feel free to repost this video or link to this content. My goal is to tell the world about these remarkable American women and the work they're doing to help fix the mess we're in.
Karen McCann is a bestselling author whose travel tips and adventure stories have appeared in Huffington Post, International Living Magazine, New York Daily News, Los Angeles Times, and Lonely Planet. She is a founding member of American Resistance Sevilla.