From Personal to Powerful: SAYA’s Young Women’s Leadership Conference 2016


The young women’s conference was very informational in that it gave us tools to develop and express ourselves through art. We were taught how to turn our experiences into something meaningful. Whether good or bad, our experiences make us who we are and we can use them to open our minds to the creative world. We were introduced to amazing people who shared their stories as well as different ways to turn our experiences into art.

Rinku Sen, the executive director of Race Forward, spoke to us about her work regarding race issues and about how people can take effective action toward racial equality. Sen gave us several helpful tips to express ourselves through writing. Her work is very inspirational and it motivates us as young women to create something that has the power to change lives.

The performance art workshop helped us understand how the experience of loss can transform into a greater understanding about living in this world. Riti Sachdeva and her colleagues showed us how we can grow from a bad experience such as: failure, rejection or loss. We were given time to perform a piece about one of those experiences through performance art techniques using time, rhythm, object, song and movement. We learned a lot from this because we realized that a bad experience is not the end; we learn from it and become a better person.

The poetry workshop was very enlightening because Sharmin Hossain and her colleagues taught us how to create poetry envisioning liberation in ourselves and our communities. We learned reflective exercises that will help us find creative solutions to our oppression. We were also given techniques to help us move through grief, cope with stress and practice self-care for trauma and depression. This workshop helped us face our problems and deal with them in creative ways instead of letting them negatively affect us mentally.

In the photography and storytelling work shop we learned basic photography concepts and how we can use images to tell stories. Neha Gautam shared with us how she brings visibility to the South Asian diaspora in and around Queens, New York through documentaries. Through her and her colleagues, we learned useful photography techniques and also got to practice them.

Chitra Ganesh, a Brooklyn based artist, shared a few of her works with us and gave a very motivational closing speech about her experiences and what her art means. Her drawings, installations, text based work and collaborations focus on narratives typically absent from history, literature and art. Her work exposes the reality of everything that we don’t want to talk about and don’t want to accept. Ganesh’s remarks were an inspiration to creatively document the untold truth in ways that the world will accept it.