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Interview

Alya Prasad.

I’m studying a Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Education at the University of Hong Kong. I enjoy different forms of art, especially drama and dance. 

How has the pandemic affected you mentally? What things did you learn about yourself during the course of this pandemic that you didn’t know before?

Being less able to go out, or go out with restrictions affected me. I realised that I enjoy simple things like commuting and walking under the sunlight in the morning on the way to university.

Why do you think prioritizing mental health is so important?

It’s important because it shapes your inner voice, which can either work for you or against you. It’s something that is often taken for granted, because of a notion that it’s inexhaustible and intangible.

After starting  Artpeace,  what challenges did you have to overcome? What things do you now do differently?

Having a global team with members from 7 different countries, some of the challenges are communication and clarity in delivering instructions of tasks, especially given the different time zones. Something I am trying to do differently is being able to do this in a more clear and coherent manner, and organising more meetings.

As one of the founders of Artpeace, could you tell us a little about the initiative and what your long-term goals for it are?

Artpeace is a global youth organisation that aims to use diverse forms of art for awareness and creating positive social change. This year, we have set our midterm goals towards creating tangible outcomes in the field of promoting equal access to quality education. We have embarked on projects such as Art Apart, which is a collaboration between the University of Hong Kong and National University of Singapore, to bring art, music and drama workshops to refugee and migrant students along the Thai-Myanmar border through zoom. The purpose of this project was to empower these underprivileged students by providing opportunities for english language learning, cultural exchange and improving psychomotor skills through art. Other projects we will be working on this year is virtual fundraising E-Busking concerts and working closely with students with special education needs. 

In your opinion, how does spreading awareness through art better the community?

I believe art has the power to transcend language and cultural barriers. It’s something that can unite us all. We’ve raised awareness through art, but have also worked hard to create long lasting impacts. For example we used art, music and drama as pedagogical tools for english language learning among refugee and migrant students in Thailand. We are also currently developing fundraising music concerts themed on raising funds for quality education and developing art education projects for students with disabilities.

In your opinion, are there some activities to calm oneself before doing things like taking an exam/ interview?

To be honest this is still something largely I struggle with. I try to take deep breaths and practise zentangle. Meditation is great too, but I am only a beginner at this, so I often do this in the evening before bed.

Have you been with a person that had a mental illness? How did you help him/her?

No I haven’t.

How did you create a comfortable haven for people to come and share their stories?

This ties into trying to have that mental note of the difference between empathy and sympathy. Simply by wording sentences differently can make something feel more safe and comfortable to be vulnerable.

What does mental health mean to YOU?

Mental health to me is forgiving yourself, acknowledging that you may be facing some difficulties, then being patient with yourself and taking the time to heal and gather your courage to tackle the day ahead of you.


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