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Hi! My name is Alina and I am a senior at Stuyvesant High School in downtown Manhattan. I live with my parents, two-year-old mini-demolition man of a brother, and my furry cat. I was born in Krasnodar, Russia, where I lived on and off for ten years as my parents hopped around the country—we lived a bit in Moscow as well as a small city, Saratov. Nine days before my tenth birthday, I left my comfortable and familiar world of grandparents, aunts, and sea of cousins, and made the biggest move of my life to Brooklyn, New York.

So, my parents and I suddenly found ourselves in a strange country—sans family and friends—and in an even stranger culture. I hated being picked on at school for being a foreigner, so I made it my goal to learn English as fast as possible. Before long, I did. I made friends, joined clubs, and became a regular American teenager. It wasn’t until years later, when I ended up at Stuyvesant again and back in New York—we had moved to NJ and back, that I realized how drastically different my life would have been had we remained in Russia. As cheesy and clichéd as it may be, living here—not only in America, but in this amazing city—has given me more opportunities and experiences than I ever could have dreamed of.

The people I have met and the things I have been able to do have been amazing. Youth Insights is one of these meaningful experiences, not only because I learn about art in new and appealing ways, but because I can connect with peers from all over the city. We have different backgrounds, interests, worries, and dreams, but in YI we are all eager to learn and have fun. I first became interested in YI when I came to the recruitment day and was given a tour where my opinion was heard and even encouraged. After going to the Met and leaving dumbfounded and overwhelmed, the Whitney YI tour was refreshing. Naturally, I wanted to know more. Even though I previously had absolutely no interest in art beyond the visual, I am now extremely curious and hope to take art classes in college.

So, even if you have no prior experience or knowledge of art, don’t be discouraged from checking out Youth Insights. Art appears abstract and challenging, and it is, but every single person can look at it and see something beyond the canvas. Youth Insights has shown me that what I think is just as legitimate as an art expert with a Ph.D. It is a remarkable program that allows so much discovery and can be interesting to just about anyone. Our eclectic group is proof of that!