by Frances (’14)

Every year, the National YoungArts Foundation chooses 150 high school finalists to attend YoungArts Week in Miami, Florida. This year, I was among them; as a writing finalist, I got to fly across the country to spend eight days with amazing, talented artists. Spending time with those kids awakened me immediately. At SOTA, I find that we generally expect to be the best. We tend to put ourselves in a bubble of “we’re the best” and look at others as though we know best, as though we know everything there is to know about our art. The thing is, almost every other finalist at YoungArts Week came from an art school. They’d all had years of training in their disciplines, and nobody was a beginner. I realized this immediately, on the first day, when the twenty-four writing finalists shared their work with each other. Everybody knew what they were doing. Afterwards, we all got lunch, and sat at the table, speechless. It was a humbling experience for all of us, but not because any of us felt we were bad writers; instead, it was because everyone else was so good. Over the course of the week, when we watched the other disciplines perform, I experienced similar feelings. The musicians moved like athletes; the opera singers sang so loud my ears rang; the filmmakers made me cry. Every night, as we got snacks by the pool, we were in awe of each other, and by the end, I felt like I’d learned a lot about the diversity and talent of America. I met people from all over the country. There were kids from states I was beginning to think might only exist on the map. Because of this, I think everyone should apply for YoungArts. Going to YoungArts Week, is a way to get beyond ourselves and our own bubbles, connect with the greater artistic community of our country, and meet people with talent that will stun you. I promise. There’s more out there than you’d expect.

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