by Reynolds Whalen
Performing Arts Abroad Founder and Executive Director
January 30th, 2017
At Performing Arts Abroad, we promote cross-cultural understanding, embrace diversity, and encourage inclusiveness. We live at the intersection of two professional fields—international education and the performing arts—that exist for these very purposes.
We understand the need for a visa system that prevents those with malicious intent from entering our country. Part of our job is to make international travel as safe and meaningful as possible, and we support further development of processes designed with this intent.
However, the recent executive order to bar refugees and other citizens of specific nations from entering the United States stands in direct opposition to our mission of creating a more understanding world through artistic cross-cultural collaboration. It threatens the well-being of artists we know in our community and a number of PAA participants and their families.
This order further intensifies xenophobia and distrust of people based on their culture, religion, and appearance, and we adamantly oppose it. We urge the current administration to lift the ban immediately, and we encourage our colleagues and fellow artists to join us in doing the same.
If you are a student reading this who is concerned about your immigration status and how these policies may affect you or your family, I encourage you to read this excellent resource from the Office of International Services at Indiana University who is setting a great example in our field.
Now more than ever we encourage you to explore the world, push yourself out of your comfort zone, reach out to those different from yourself, and form relationships that challenge you to be a more compassionate person. Our society needs informed artists to boldly proclaim truth and stand up to oppression, and it needs it now. This is your moment to speak up.
PAA Music Volunteer Sarah Pinto embraces one of her students in Costa Rica