ARTE Student Voices: Debie, 17
This past year, ARTE had the pleasure of working with Debie, a student involved in the fall semester of our program at the Pan American International High School in Elmhurst, Queens. Debie, a rising junior, is originally from the Philippines and came here four years ago. Originally, she had aspirations of being a chef, but now is gravitating towards the arts, considering becoming a performing arts teacher. Given her incredible talents in singing and performing, Debie recently participated in ARTE’s final community unveiling this past June 10th, honoring ARTE students’ work on immigrant rights and against racial discrimination.
During her time with ARTE, Debie especially enjoyed learning about New York City graffiti artist and human rights activist, Keith Haring, a champion on LGBTQ rights. She found his work “different and unique,” and that he truly “speaks for people,” after she had watched a clip of him being arrested by police for drawing graffiti in the subway. She felt that in his work, he was trying to “open people’s minds” on important social justice issues of the time.
While in our ARTE class, Debie was especially interested in the issue of sexual violence, and it surprised her to learn about that men can also be the victims of sexual assault. She is also interested in freedom of speech as a human right, understanding that dictators often exploit and suppress that in order to control their citizens, as well as exploring terrorism as a result of human rights violations.
Ultimately, she is interested art as a way of exposing others to human rights issues, as it helps people understand these concepts better than simply talking about them. When art is used to experience everything, it creates a picture in people’s minds, more so than just reading about something. Dance is Debie's favorite artistic medium, as it relieves stress and allows her to momentarily forget about the problems of the world.
This past year, ARTE has been honored to have had Debie our program. Her thoughtfulness, creativity, and talents have had an impact on both the facilitators of the program and her peers. We hope that she will join us for next year!