Kyara’s Experience

In the 2016-2017 year, I volunteered to help backstage for two productions m at the Harlem School of the Arts. For the winter show, I worked as an usher and cleaner and in the spring show, I helped oversee the lids who were in the show, ironed costumes, and did anything that would make the life of the stage manager amor the cast members a bit easier, such as buying lunch and bringing it to them, or picking up emergency items. I also volunteered to help advertise their winter holiday show by walking all over the west side, from Harlem to downtown, passing out flyers for the show and answering people’s questions.
This was a really rewarding year long experience because the arts are such a significant part of my life and they are often underfunded. These little tasks that I did seem irrelevant, but in the grand scheme of things it is these little tasks that make the show possible at all. It is often difficult for companies to find someone to do these things for them, especially if they have to scrape up money to pay for their service, so it was nice to give back to a community and field that I care about deeply and has given so much to me. I plan to do something similar to this again this year, as though it was an overwhelming job, everyone was so appreciative and it was interesting to experience a different side of production that had nothing to do with actually performing. Moreover, interacting with younger kids who share the same passion for performance as I do was probably one of the most rewarding and humbling experiences ever!


DRA Mahlen

imageThis 2016 year I participated and choreographed the student run Dancer’s Responding to AIDS benefit concert. It was my fourth year of participation and second year choreographing. This year was very special to me and all of the choreographers because it was the tenth anniversary. A lot of things also started to change this year making the process of planning and rehearsing different, but interesting.
Being a choreographer for the second time was so different, I was ready to take more risks, but I also was not sure how. I wanted to make more of a statement with my piece, I thought it was important for a benefit concert to be there for a cause, then the pieces should also work for a cause. I choreographed my piece around a feminist idea. The concept of dressing in what is appropriate to society and how penalizing some females for what they are wearing based on how it looks ok there body type affects the mind of young teens especially. I thought about teens who did contract AIDS and all the other struggles they might be dealing with and this came to mind.

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Kyara’s YPI Reflection

For my YPI project my group and I decided to take on the topic of
unemployed veterans. We chose this topic because one of our group
members had an uncle who struggled with his life economically and
mentally when coming back from war. In addition we are approaching the
age that many teens may chose to take a few years off from college and
decide to go to war. This project was a very interesting experience
from researching to presenting. When doing the research I learned so
much about many other social issues that surrounded, is caused by, or
is a result of unemployed veterans. I grew a strong connection and
passion for this topic when I discovered the problems such as suicide,
homelessness, and more that arise for unemployed veterans, but my true
passion emerged after we found and met the people of our organization
IAVA (Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America).
IAVA uses a numerous amount of programs to make the
transition for veterans and their families as easy as possible when
they come home. They use one on one mentoring groups to make it a more
intimate process for the veterans. Going to the site visit was an
amazing experience because it was so great to see so many sweet and
welcoming people so passionate about a specific topic. It was such a
warm and colorful environment and putting yourself in the shoes of a
veteran who walks in to that atmosphere you can see just how helpful
that could be for them. We interviewed Mr.Hansman, a former veteran
himself, and we were struck by how much this topic and program really
meant to him because coming home he also ran into some bumps in the
road. The last thing they showed us before we left our visit was the
wall of why. The Wall of Why reminds the workers and volunteers there
why they do this,  with pictures of what they have accomplished so far
and thank you notes from the families of people they have already
helped this wall keeps them moving forward in their journey.
This project has not only helped me learn about my social
issue and what I can do to help, it has also showed about all the
various other issues there are in the world from topics my peers chose
to work with. It has also given me a taste of the feeling you get when
you feel like you are making a difference in someone’s life,even if it
is simply through educating others on the problem. I also discovered
that making a difference is not as hard or as far away as it seems, it
is simply about taking the first small step of action and you are
hooked. On a more personal level I learned about what my peers want to
change in the world and learned about some connections in or thinking,
passions, and goals. Overall, this project was helpful in teaching me
how to turn my passion into a solution while incorporating public
speaking tactics that will do the same for the people I educate on the
issue I want to change.