Meet Alyssandra & Nicolassa

What does it mean to you to be an American Woman?

Road to the the American Woman captures untold stories of women across the nation.  These stories will later be compiled into a documentary film to begin a dialogue unpacking the labels that confine us and redefining what it means to be a woman in America today. On a three-week journey from Long Beach, California to the Women’s March on Washington, songwriter Alyssandra Nighswonger and community arts advocate Nicolassa Galvez will connect with women through various hosts in each city at meetups . that will include music, conversation and ‘storycatching’ of women in the community.  Women will answer such questions as

    • What are your hopes?
    • What are your fears?
    • What are your dreams?
    • Where do you gain strength from?
    • Who is a strong woman in your life who has helped you become stronger?”
    • What can you do to support the women around you?
    • What does it mean to be a woman in American today?

The journey begins on January 8th with a stop in over a dozen cities during the round-trip drive to the march in DC where we will spend four nights capturing stories of women participating in the march. These stories will be shared via several medias such as our blog, social media, and other avenues throughout our journey and then then composed into a documentary film our return to Long Beach.

The significant problems we have cannot be solved at the same level of thinking with which we created them.  ~ Albert Einstein

Alyssandra Nighswonger

Co-founder, Road to the American Woman

My place in my community has been a woman of many hats. I’m a performer, an open mic host, and a collaborator with several small businesses. My role as a performer and an open mic host has given me a role of letting the people around me in my community share their voice. Helping several women-owned businesses has showed me the true grit it takes to be a successful businesswoman, and I have seen their impact change the community for the better.

I have always struggled with defining womanhood for myself. When I was younger, my mom had leukemia and was really sick. We would measure out her medications and help her get around and wait for her to rest when her feet and legs were too swollen to walk. There was a part of me as a young woman that resented not having a role model of classic femininity to look up to, and I questioned what the core of being a real woman really was.  I, myself, am not a dainty or graceful woman. I’m awkward and cheesy and a stubborn workaholic. But as I get older, I’m realizing that the most important women in my life don’t care about that stuff, anyways. My mom has been in remission for over 20 years, and has become a successful lactation consultant who is passionate about what she does. She has taught me perseverance. I have learned, now, that true womanhood is a deep strength. A true woman can be quiet and she can shout out loud. She can nurture the ones that she loves. She works hard to help lift the people around her up.  She meets challenge with fortitude.  She speaks out and fights for what is right.

For me personally, Road to the American Woman, is an opportunity to go out into the world and find the true strength of the American Woman, and project it at full blast. I hope that sharing these stories can help the women that it reaches to feel a greater connectedness with the women around them, and more pride in the true American Women that they are.

Nicolassa Galvez

Co-founder, Road to the American Woman

I am a 38-year old, mestiza, single, passionate, sensitive, childless, educated, childless, beautiful American woman. I wear these labels with confidence and with self- doubt. The term Chingona, which translates to badass woman has been the label that really sums up how I have moved through this last year.

In May I received a masters degree in social justice and education. For over 16 years I’ve served the community in my work with the homeless, Latino immigrants, low-income families, survivors of domestic violence and most recently creating spaces for art and music. Nearly one year prior to this project I left the nonprofit world for many reasons but mainly because I was burnt out and felt used up. I have always been a community activator and my belief in social change through art and music really developed over the last 5 years but I also realized I needed to figure how to make this vision happen outside the traditional nonprofit model. So I spent this time picking up odd jobs from construction to bookkeeping and moving furniture to marketing which gave me the brain space and energy to focus on and invest in collaborative projects with some amazing organizations, creatives, artists, and musicians in Long Beach. I was able to begin developing my vision of what my personal contribution is to the community. So yeah, I am still struggling. I still don’t feel fully recovered. My drive is still on a steady but slow increase. However, my passion for Long Beach is as strong as ever, if not stronger. The people I get to spend my days with  fuel a fire for genuine impact. And my understanding of the power of art to inspire, lead and enact change is becoming more clear.

My personal reasons for becoming involved with the Road to the American Woman is to come full circle with the professional journey I have been on since last February. And on the road, in a car with Alyssandra and my dog Sofia I will seek renewal and inspiration in the places I visit, the music I hear, the art I witness, the march with a million other women against patriarchy, and the untold narratives of women the country.

Share your stories with us at #roadtotheamericanwoman

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