It’s the 21st of January. Again. Last year, on this day, millions of Americans across the nation took to the streets in what would be the largest protest in the history of the United States. Last year, on this day, it was Trump’s first day in office.
I couldn’t march on the 21st last year. Yet, I too was part of the protest. My voice, too, was one with the millions of protesters. Last year, on this day, I staged “Displaced”, a production that used Indian classical dance and multimedia storytelling, to depict the stories of five refugee children, in order to raise awareness about the refugee crisis and served as a fundraiser for GirlForward, an organization in Austin. (Here’s a video of one of my favorite stories from “Displaced”.)
When you start a project, you’re not always sure where you will go with it. When I came up with the idea for “Displaced”, it was the beginning of 2016. This idea developed and grew over the course of a year, and I staged the final production in 2017, when our nation was going through a tumultuous change. A production staged a year ago was the beginning of a journey. Looking back at 2017, I note the factors that made it such a fulfilling year for me. Interestingly, it all seems to somehow connect back to “Displaced”. In the last 365 days, “Displaced” has influenced many of my decisions, opened up opportunities, and has played a pivotal role in my life.
“Volunteering” was once a box for me. A small white box in a mental list, waiting to be checked off with a bold check mark. Life is puzzling. It’s funny how things change. Service is now my passion, taking precedence over many of my other activities. “Displaced” helped me discover my strong interest for supporting refugees in my community. For nearly a year now, I have been volunteering as an ESL tutor for refugee children, and it’s hard to imagine not spending my Saturday mornings working with those sweet, bright students.
And it doesn’t end there. Throughout the past year, I have written many essays for various scholarship programs. The topics are often thought-provoking and complex, and I’ve noticed that no matter which program, “Displaced”, and the lessons I learnt as a result of it, have formed an essential portion of my essays. “Displaced” was not just an exploration of the refugee crisis and dance; rather, it was a learning experience that taught me about communication, storytelling, and the importance of acknowledging issues and trying to address them to the best of one’s ability.
Right now, while writing this, I am sitting on my couch listening to music as I type away. I have poured my thoughts in a draft that I will revise, edit, and polish, before publishing it on my blog. My blog. That’s another thing. I created my blog just under year ago, and many of my first blog posts were about– you guessed it– “Displaced”. From publishing videos of the production to explaining the process and its impact, “Displaced” was one of the reasons I created this platform. I hadn’t imagined that over the course of a year, blogging would form an important part of my weekend routine, and writing would become an essential part of my life. Prior to this blog, I hadn’t ever considered myself a “writer”. Now, twelve months later, I can’t imagine not having a little corner of the vast Internet to myself, where I am free to express my thoughts and document my life’s journey.
As I read this post over, I realize that it’s not just a discussion of “Displaced” and the opportunities it opened up for me. It’s a reflection of 2017, and the pieces that made this year special. “Displaced” is simply the glue that brings these parts together. Who knew that one little project could impact me so much? As I turn the page from 2017 to 2018, there are many things to look forward to. I regard the past year as one of learning, growth, and excitement, and I can’t wait to see what the new year holds.