Introducing YAMA Intern, Sarra Briki
by Jason Rabin, communications manager, Young Audiences of Massachusetts
Tell me about your education/work experience prior to interning at YAMA. What field have you been preparing to enter, and why?
Prior to interning at YAMA, I received my Masters degree in Communication from Angelo State University in Texas and relocated to Boston to look for work. Despite starting my educational journey in business, I was always intrigued by multicultural settings and set out to explore different countries, languages, and communication styles through travel, internships, and part time work. One of the experiences that really taught me the importance of communication work was when I assisted foreign correspondents in covering news in the aftermath of a terrorist attack. The urgency of the situation required so much instant action and on-the-spot thinking that it made me realize how critical clear communication can be. I had to act fast; fact checking, scheduling interviews, providing Arabic to English interpretation and translation, keeping journalists up to date with news developments, and providing necessary logistics in a time of chaos.
What drew you to interning at YAMA? What excites you about the arts and arts learning?
Growing up in a middle class family in Tunisia, I did not have access to many educational opportunities through the arts. During a cultural exchange year I spent in the United States at the age of 17, I got to take a guitar class as part of my high school curriculum. This experience exposed me to the importance of incorporating the arts in education and made me wish more schools had arts programming accessible to their students.
What was it like helping out at YAMA's Showcase? Any favorite moments? What was your favorite performance, and why?
The Showcase was my favorite experience with YAMA so far. Being an outsider and not knowing much about arts education, I was fascinated by the impact the different art programs had on children, arts coordinators, and just everyone. The excitement, the music, the stories, the interactions, and the energy were so strong I felt like I belonged and was involved in arts education for years.
Getting to witness and attend several artist performances, I was amazed at how much I learned about different cultures, languages, and art forms. Coming from Tunisia, my favorite performance was Arabiqa because it made me nostalgic for home.
What were you hoping to learn at YAMA? What are some of the things you have learned so far? What has surprised you?
I was hoping to learn about the practical side of communication. In the days prior to the Showcase, I got to witness some event planning dynamics and all the communications that revolve around that. It made me realize how less flexible the real world is from what we study in schools. Dealing with scheduling and last minute changes or cancelations takes so much energy from staff but seems to be the norm.
What do you hope to do after your internship? What new lessons, skills or interests do you think you might take into your future work?
Ultimately, I would like to specialize in crisis communication. After the popular uprising in Tunisia in 2011, the political scene underwent dramatic changes. Civil society has become a major player in shaping the political dialogue in the country by encouraging citizenship engagement, fighting corruption, and ensuring good governing practices and government accountability. Undergoing these major changes, political communication becomes much more critical.
During this democratic transition, Tunisia faced many unpredictable challenges and incidents that necessitated a strong and agile response strategy. This is where I would love to be able to help my country and hope to hone my communication skills enough to be able to do so.