I have only been helping out with Creative Youth, the team behind IYAF, for a short time, but I’ve already felt challenged in the past week or so. It might sound like a bad thing at first glance, but let me explain.
I’ve worked and volunteered in the arts in Singapore before, so I thought that this opportunity would be good one to seize, being here in London at the time of IYAF. Where I am usually helping out with the arts programming side of building a festival, I thought that I would offer some of my time and try a hand at producing content and helping to market IYAF to develop some skills on that front.
So far, this has proven to be quite enjoyable for myself — social media has been something many companies have dabbled in for a few years now and is often the best way to speak to young people . Social media is the marketing tool of choice for our team to spread the word about the Festival and encourage people to get involved. The social media landscape is constantly changing with various updates and additions to tech products, and I am keen to explore the different ways social media can be used as compared to a few years (or even a few months) ago. Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are busy, interactive platforms, so I’m hoping that some of the ideas that I have coming up during the Festival will be fun for all to engage with!
The second step out of my comfort zone would of course be being in another country, which I recognise to be a privilege not everyone can afford, in terms of money, time, and more, and an opportunity which I am hence immensely grateful for. We live in an extremely globalised world now, people, information, ideas, and material objects all able to move across borders far more fluidly than before. With this in mind, I believed it worth taking part in IYAF while I was here to shake up my world view and look at things from a different perspective, all of which previously contain only my experiences from Singapore — experiences that I am very proud and thankful to have, but which are but a limited set on a larger stage.
That said, I did experience and am probably still going through general discomfort at my lack of familiarity with the culture, people, place — all the small things that one takes for granted while going about our daily lives. However, meeting with difference can be a purposeful kind of challenge to the self. Perhaps I will be able to grow in independence, in my ability to negotiate the world of now and the future, and this will be because of my learning and working through this experience here in the United Kingdom, in the Festival and beyond.
I am not bringing the only international voice to the Creative Youth team behind IYAF, though, it is definitely worth mentioning that we have a group of wonderful interns from Oldenburg in Germany also working towards different facets of the festival. In the arts, cultural exchanges are precious and collaboration often produces the most wonderful result — sometimes amalgamating bits of both cultures and talents, sometimes bringing forth something new altogether, whether behind the scenes on the administrative end or right in the centre with the performers and artists. Hopefully, my small part in IYAF, along with everyone else’s, might lead to a very special 10th anniversary of IYAF.
Vanessa is a final year student at the National University of Singapore, and as part of a summer holiday to the United Kingdom, she is also visiting Kingston and helping out with the Content and Marketing team behind the International Youth Arts Festival. Having an aspiration to work in the arts, and in particular with and for children and youth, Vanessa is taking this time to build on her personal experiences in the arts from Singapore with the experiences she will gather here in London.