Visions and Voices
My mother has many unique catch-phrases, the most memorable of which was always “Art is the Answer”. If there was a homelessness issue in Los Angeles, then art was the answer. If there was an uptick in gun-related crimes due to mental illness, then art was the answer. Any kind of problem in society would get this same diagnosis, simply because she understood the power of the arts as a tool for societal progression and healing. Max C. Nikias understood this as well, which is why he started Visions and Voices at USC in 2006. Visions and Voices is a university wide program that puts on talks, performances, and a variety of other events to showcase the artistic excellence of USC and expand student’s global perspectives. A little over a decade later the program fosters a packed schedule every semester, mixing the artistic culture of USC with that of Los Angeles. But even greater than the global perspective and the world renowned speakers that Visions and Voices showcases is the way they give back to the local community. By fostering inclusion and societal progression on such a large platform, they make USC a better environment with every passing performance. For instance, consider the event visions and voices put on at my orientation last summer. It was a play, in which students faced an issue regarding their support of minority rights. In a short, 20 minute event, they managed to explain the complex concept of supporting minority rights, but also understanding when to step back and say, “this is not my victory, even though I may have helped them achieve it”. The concept, of taking yourself out of a celebration that you may have fought for, but it truly isn’t yours, was never introduced to me before that moment. Yet, it remains something that many people need to understand, especially going into this new, multicultural society. It’s these kind of shorts that really imparted to me the benefit of Visions and Voices for the community as a whole, and what makes me a strong supporter of them to this day.