Selam! That means “hello” in my native language, Amharic. I am Aida, a seventeen-year-old senior at Hillcrest High School in Jamaica, Queens. I have been living in Queens for about eleven years now, but I was born in the Bronx. I was raised by my grandmother in Ethiopia until I was four years old, before I returned to America to live with my parents. Although I was back in America, my grandmother played an important role in raising me and exposing me to my cultural heritage.
Every day I learn something new about my culture and I discover a part of me. Living in such a diverse city I am exposed to many other cultures as well, and I enjoy taking advantage of this unique opportunity. The Whitney Youth Insights program gives me the opportunity to interact with fourteen other teens my age and learn about the different backgrounds they come from, and the one thing we have in common: we are all Americans who share an American culture and love of American art.
I’m not an artist but I enjoy fashion and making my own designs. That’s just one of my hobbies. But learning about different styles of art and the history behind them is what told me the Whitney’s Youth Insights was right for me. American art, to me, is unique because it cannot be classified in one specific category, instead it covers a variety of styles and techniques, and can sometimes be controversial. Working at the Whitney allows me to expand my knowledge of art and interact with others, teaching and learning from them.
Working with teens is a great opportunity to expose others my age to something they probably don’t know is out there: programs, activities, events, and art they can relate to. I hope to offer this knowledge to the senior citizens I will be working with and I also hope to learn a lot from the other teens. I hope to learn from their experiences and knowledge about art and life.
When I’m not involved in my art or Youth Insights, I’m just like any other teen. I love shopping, ice skating, movies, music, dancing, and hanging out with friends. Right now, I’m very excited about going to college and starting something new. I plan on going away to get out of the city. But don’t get me wrong, I love New York City! Once I’m in college I plan to study pre-law and go on to law school.
For now, I love being in high school and I’m looking forward to many more experiences with Youth Insights.