I met Hannah because she is the teenage daughter of my friends Joy and Jim. Hannah has become a friend of mine. She is smart and beautiful, and I can’t even begin to tell you what a creative and gentle soul she is. I have faith in the future because of her.
JM: Please tell us a little about yourself.
HS: I am currently a junior at Gilbert Classical Academy, a college prep school. And when they say college prep, they mean it. I can definitely say that the amount of work that is given to college students does not faze me at all, it is the idea of the adult-like maturity and responsibilities that I will need to quickly adapt to while living by myself that is scary. As you can tell, college has probably been the number one thing on my mind recently. (Or at least somewhere in the top five). I do not intend to go to school in state after I graduate. No, it is not that I have a problem with the local schools, in fact, they’re actually not bad. I have lived in Arizona my whole life and I almost feel that if I don’t leave when I have the chance, I will be stuck. And plus, I want some seasons other than summer. For college, I want to either go into the field of education or global public health…anything that has to do with helping kids. I love kids. After I get my BA or BS (whichever it happens to be…still in the process of deciding if I want to take a more artsy or medical route), I plan to join the Peace Corps. From there I think I will decide if I would rather get my Masters and continue on in my field on my own or stay with the Peace Corps. And somewhere in there, there will be a marriage and babies but that’s not necessarily something that can be planned.
That’s academic/goals side of me. I also enjoy music; listening and playing. I have been playing the cello for seven, going on eight years now, took bass guitar lessons for a couple years because it’s similar to the cello, I am a self-taught, amateur guitarist (don’t expect me to be a prodigy – I’m not), and recently I’ve had a fascination with trying to learn piano. The only instrument that I can read music for is the cello. All of my musical endeavors were started due to a sort of domino effect – the cello triggered the bass, the bass led to the guitar, the guitar led me to the piano. And none of it would have happened without my mom. When I was going into fourth grade, my mom told me that she had always loved cello music; loved the way the cello sounded. She wanted to play it when she was younger, but her teacher was mean, so she quit. And that was it for me. That year I joined the orchestra. And my very first year, I hated it. At first, I couldn’t understand how to read the music and I had to learn all my songs by ear, which really frustrated me. Of course, my mom wouldn’t let me quit. And thank God for that, because I would have quit in a heartbeat. It seemed unfair then, but I look back now and realize what a pivotal point that was for me. If it hadn’t been for my mom, I would never have thought to play a musical instrument. Ever.
So…there’s a little peek into the inner-workings of Hannah.
JM: You are a creative person. Since I’ve known you, you’ve explored music, painting, and photography. What does art mean to you?
HS: For me, art is a catharsis. It is expressing the elements about yourself that cannot be communicated through words. It’s my stress reliever; my hobby; It’s in my genes. It’s always on my mind. I view my world as a photograph – I am always trying to see the image in front of me as I would through my lens. I want to see the objects in front of me as the finished product in my head before I even pull the camera towards my eyes or put the pencil to paper.
Art is life. It is in everything everyone does all the time. Everyone does things in a different way…to me, that’s art. To take something – an essay topic, a room, a pair of shoes, a piece of paper, a website, a sandwich – and put a little bit of yourself into it is art. People are beautiful, and to take an object and make it show the elements of your unique beauty can only be defined as art. Art’s in everything and everyone. It is everything and everyone.
JM: You are a social activist. What drives you to care about others when so many teens are driven by popularity and the “mean girl” culture?
HS: For me, it’s difficult to understand why anyone would be motivated by the “mean girl” culture. It might be genetics; my parents are caring people. It could just be the way they were brought up, and likewise the way I was brought up. My parents always told me 1. to treat others the way I would like to be treated, 2. to put others first, and 3. would you like it if I did that to you? Of course, this all stemmed out of the “conservative Christian” way of life that they had at the time, but the lessons are still valuable and important to me. So naturally, I grew up asking myself if I would appreciate it if so-and-so was mean to me, and acting on those thoughts versus whether or not what I was about to do would make me happy. I can really appreciate the example my parents set for me when the church wasn’t able to. Some of it is just being willing to acknowledge my own hypocrisy and that of others, and trying to deal with it instead of turning a blind eye. It’s amazing to me how a church Sunday-school can teach children songs about wanting to be sheep (followers of Jesus) versus Pharisees, yet turn out the biggest batch of Pharisees I have ever seen in my life. It’s amazing how people can claim to follow Jesus – the guy who hung out with hookers, tax collectors, thieves, murderers and the like – yet so strongly oppose those very people – the out-casts, the different ones – that he had an explicit love for.
But back to teens…I’ll be honest, teenagers are selfish. Possibly the MOST selfish people on the face of the earth. American teens, that is. Or teens from any other country as privileged as America. And we’ll try to deny it, but it’s so obvious that the only person on our minds is ourselves. We’ve never had to work for anything, thus automatically assuming we deserve everything, and never appreciating that which we do have. And I think this goes for a lot of adults too. To me…something seems amiss with this whole mentality.
Some people see activism as a negative thing, which is something that I all together do not understand. How can the desire to help people be bad? I may be a “bleeding heart”, but at least I have a heart to bleed from. I don’t know…sometimes it seems that it should be common sense and common decency to treat others the way we want to be treated, to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes, to care about people. I know for a fact that if I was a little girl in Africa who had contracted HIV and I knew there was someone out there rich enough to pay for my vaccination, I would want them to do so. I think we all need to go back to Kindergarten when we were taught to share with others, to be kind, to use our inside voices (notice how many people that get air-time are extremists?), to treat others with respect, and to be kind. Obviously, we didn’t get it the first time.
JM: can you attach a drawing or a photo that you’ve created?
HS: Sure can!
JM: Would you like to share an internet link with us?
HS: How about…5 million links? Just kidding, I don’t have THAT many, but I will have to narrow it down quite a bit…how about my top five?
Funny story about the first link. I was just perusing photo bucket, looking for pictures of Africa for a school project/presentation type thing when I came across a picture that said children are born with these arms (picture of arms) not these (picture of guns). This really piqued my interest, so I typed in the web address that was in the corner (invisiblechildren.com) and read all about it…it’s incredible, really. As an American, it’s so hard to imagine that people live like that…anyways. You just have to check it out. Educate yourselves…the websites for those organizations are EXPONENTIALLY cooler than Facebook can ever dream to be.
I want to thank Hannah for taking the time to answer my questions and be so open and honest. Please feel free to ask her any questions in the comments below.