An Important Statement from our Executive Director

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

PAA Welcomes Caitlyn Conley!

Barcelona

Barcelona

Performing Arts Abroad is thrilled to announce the newest member of our team, Caitlyn Conley!  Caitlyn started on July 11th as PAA’s new Program Advisor.  She will be helping potential participants select the program that is the best fit, and encourage them to realize their dreams.

Here’s a quick interview so you can get to know Caitlyn a bit better. You can also read her bio on PAA’s Meet The Staff page on our website.

You’ve mentioned that you live your life and pursue your art based on a set of values. What are these values and how do these play out in your art and day to day life?

I definitely believe as artists we all need an artistic perspective or a base of why we do what we do that intersects with our outlook on life. There are 4 words I love keeping in mind in my work as an actor, writer, an educator and any other role I fill. Those words are connection, generosity, communication and specificity. I love connecting people and I totally think art is an incredibly generous thing we give each other. I use these words to keep me on track with my values and so far they’ve been able to get me to places that have people who not only share similar values, but also similar outlooks on life and creativity!

 

You have an incredible background in international travel, acting and the performing arts, and writing / blogging. Where do these aspects of yourself intersect? How do you see this playing into your role with us?

It is so awesome how much they all not only run parallel to each other but also find ways of intersecting. I really believe the skills I learned in training to be an actor have totally prepared for me a life of travel, education and writing. As a performer I gained so much self-confidence and the ability to comfortably connect with others face to face. I learned how achieve objectives and clearly communicate my thoughts. All of these things help me everyday but they especially are essential in traveling and meeting so many new people. As an advisor, I look forward to being able to utilize my knowledge and experiences to help others achieve their goals.

 

Me in a refrigerator box in a production photo from “True Believers” a play that took place at Comic Con.

Me in a refrigerator box in a production photo from “True Believers” a play that took place at Comic Con.

 

What excites you the most about Performing Arts Abroad and your job here?

So many things!! After my first day with PAA I went home and told my boyfriend I was in the scene from Annie where she’s in Daddy Warbucks’ house for the first time. The people working here have created an incredibly supportive environment full of knowledge, experience and wanderlust. I love being in an office where everyone is talking about the places they just returned from or going to, everyone is excited for each other’s opportunities and celebrates their success.

On the outside of that, I am so excited to be able to be someone who provides life-changing opportunities to others. Both travel and the arts have shaped who I am and I am a big believer they can be transformative for anyone who pursues them. I look forward to working with students about to embark on these adventures and hearing all about their experiences.

 

You describe yourself as a “basic millennial”. What does that mean? How does this make its way into your art and writing?

I think it’s important not to take yourself too seriously. As performers and artists, that can sometimes be tough because we fight super hard for our work and we are in a medium where an audience of 200+ people clap for us when we do a good job. Sometimes we just have to make fun of ourselves. I am super proud of what I have achieved in my life but at the end of the day I still go home and watch the Bachelorette and take selfies.

 

A selfie with my dog, Walter Jr.

A selfie with my dog, Walter Jr.

 

Tell me about a current or recent artistic project you’ve worked on.

Since moving back to MA I’ve taken a small break from theatre and film to focus more on writing and theatre education. Currently, I’m working on a book of essays about our experiences from ages 26-29 in this crazy and sometimes ridiculous, technological world we live in. Whether it involves dating, travel, careers, moving to a new city or taking the next steps in our lives, we’re all trying to navigate our way in a time that our communication and access to information is unprecedented – it really makes for some hilarious moments.

 

You’ve traveled and lived abroad extensively. Hit me with your funniest / most awkward travel story.

Oh boy.

I was in Cusco, Peru in 2010. The city had just suffered through landslides that devastated much of the city. It was pretty barren. I was 22 and up until that point I had mainly just travelled the UK. I had very little experience in places too far out of my comfort zone but I was really eager to learn about a new culture, so it was at the top of my list to try Guinea Pig while I was there.

My boyfriend and I went to a local restaurant that served it. The place looked really fancy and the food was relatively expensive so we felt that the risk for food poisoning was low. Plus, they looked like they were struggling for customers, we were the only guests there.

When we sat down we ordered the Guinea Pig, or “Cuy,” in our broken Spanish. Our waitress looked at us, trying to communicate something that seemed super important. Once she realized we did not understand her, she started making a quick running motion with her hands. We still didn’t get it, so she just did the motion faster. Finally, she opened her eyes very wide and then closed them several times. It hit us. She was telling us our food was still alive and they would have to kill it and cook it. She was warning us this may add to the time it took to prepare dinner.

I was mortified, but still committed to the cultural experience.

The Guinea Pig was served to us on a plate, fully intact. He was propped up, frozen in a running motion with a very surprised look on his face… he wore a tomato hat.

I walked down the street back to our hotel doing that thing where you’re crying and laughing at the same time.

 

The aforementioned tomato-wearing Guinea Pig

The aforementioned tomato-wearing Guinea Pig

 

What’s something important you’ve learned about yourself from traveling abroad? What piece(s) of advice would you give to first time travelers?

Oh my gosh. There are so many things you learn about yourself when traveling. Things that you just can’t learn unless you’re in the situations travel puts you in. Besides the skills you pick up from learning different cultures and languages, I learned how adventurous I can be, that I can make friends wherever I go, I can successfully navigate the world on my own, among so many other things. All of these aspects about myself have made me a happier, confident adult. I now trust my ability to make decisions and stay true to myself.

My advice would be to stay present. When we travel we tend to get overwhelmed with logistics and planning. Once those are out of the way, just relax and truly be where you are because you are creating memories you will have for the rest of your life.

A Message from our Director – March 2016

ReynoldsI’m writing this from a friend’s 22nd floor apartment in Harlem, overlooking all of New York City and the Hudson River as I’m getting ready to attend Roehampton University’s 175th anniversary partner reception. The dress code is “smart”, so I’m busting out the matching wooden bow tie and wooden flower lapel pin, hoping it will counter the HUGE wild beard I’m sporting at the moment.

Roehampton is our partner university in London, and they have the best dance department in the entire United Kingdom, as well as an extensive course offering of theatre classes. It’s fitting that I’ll be attending their partner reception just two and a half weeks before the deadline for our biggest scholarship offering ever…$1,500 off all of our study abroad programs, including those in London with Roehampton.

Congratulations on this huge milestone, Roehampton! Performing Arts Abroad is proud to work with you, and here’s to 175 more ground-breaking, innovative years! Cheers!

As always, I welcome you to e-mail me directly at reynolds@performingartsabroad.com with any questions regarding our programs and how to get involved.  For a full list of locations where we offer programs, please see below.

Program Locations:

Belize
Brazil
Costa Rica
Ecuador
England
Galapagos Islands
Ghana
Ireland
Italy
Kenya
Philippines
South Africa
Spain
Thailand

Reynolds Whalen
Director of Performing Arts Abroad
reynolds@performingartsabroad.com
+1.413.341.5548

A Message from our Director – February 2016

ReynoldsDid you know that we’ve given away almost $20,000 in scholarships already in 2016? International travel is expensive and we’re doing everything we can to make it feasible for as many performing artists as possible.

If you’re reading this, you may be considering taking out a loan to do your program abroad. Do it! I took out several loans to go abroad as an undergraduate and graduate student, including a hefty one to study Shakespeare at the Globe Theatre in London for a summer.  I’m still making monthly payments on these loans.  But every time I make a payment, I remember the incredible experiences I had and think about how profoundly my time overseas has shaped my humanity and my career, and I am grateful.  I don’t regret it for a second.  Going abroad to do what you love is truly an investment in your future in a very big way.

In addition to the huge $1,500 scholarship we are offering for our study abroad programs, we have a $150 discount on all programs if you apply before March 1st and enter the discount code SUPERTUESDAY2016 (get it? we’re politically savvy!) We also offer a $200 Bring a Friend discount if you get a friend to sign up and put your name in the Referral field of the application, a $400 Multi-Program discount for each additional program if you do more than one program back-to-back, and discounts up to $1,000 for alumni!  Take advantage of these offers and get out there and see the world!

As always, I welcome you to e-mail me directly at reynolds@performingartsabroad.com  with any questions regarding our programs and how to get involved.  For a full list of locations where we offer programs, please see below.

Program Locations:

Belize
Brazil
Costa Rica
Ecuador
England
Galapagos Islands
Ghana
Ireland
Italy
Kenya
Philippines
South Africa
Spain
Thailand

Reynolds Whalen
Director of Performing Arts Abroad
reynolds@performingartsabroad.com
+1.413.341.5548

A Message from our Director – December 2015

ReynoldsRather than wax poetic about the holidays, I’ve decided to share three of my favorite holiday-themed videos of the season:

This festive and intriguing dance light show

This version of Oh Holy Night, made entirely with goat noises (I’ve had my fair share of holiday seasons surrounded by bleating goats in East Africa)

This video of Jimmy Fallon and The Roots singing the Star Wars theme a cappella with famous members of the new movie’s cast…ok, not EXACTLY holiday themed, but come on this is awesome and the movie comes out tomorrow night!

Happy Holidays, everyone! Enjoy time with your family and friends, eat great food, and here’s to lots of love and laughter.  See you in the New Year…

As always, I welcome you to e-mail me directly at reynolds@performingartsabroad.com  with any questions regarding our programs and how to get involved.  For a full list of locations where we offer programs, please see below.

Program Locations:

Belize
Brazil
Costa Rica
Ecuador
England
Galapagos Islands
Ghana
Ireland
Italy
Kenya
Philippines
South Africa
Spain
Thailand

Reynolds Whalen
Director of Performing Arts Abroad
reynolds@performingartsabroad.com
+1.413.341.5548

Welcome our new Programs Assistant, Christian Shiveley!

Performing Arts Abroad is thrilled to announce the hire of our newest team member, Christian Shiveley! Christian has just begun working out of the PAA headquarters in Northampton, Massachusetts and will be primarily responsible for advising those interested in our programs. He will also be helping with producing interesting and clear content related to our programming.

To get to know Christian a bit better, our Director Reynolds Whalen did a quick interview with him about his love of the arts and why he decided to join us. Spoiler alert: the man makes a mean crepe. Enjoy!

Christian living it up in France.

Christian living it up in France.

What is your performing arts background?

I play the Drums, the guitar, the bass guitar, and I used to play the trumpet. I’ve recently started playing with a friend I have collaborated with before for one off type shows. We call the band the Bumbling Woohas and the music is varied, but easily categorized as folk rock.

In high school I was active in theater. Our school had a yearly play competition in which each class would write and produce their own thirty-minute play.

Tell me more about your travel experience and how it’s contributed to who you are today.

I have traveled to the Caribbean many times since I was young. My step-mother is from a small Island in the Grenadines called Bequia. In college I made trips to the Dominican Republic and Haiti to work on film projects documenting the relationship between large resorts and local economies, as well as women’s rights in Port-Au-Prince.

I lived in Lyon, France for the second half of 2013. I went with my girlfriend and was forced to learn French upon arrival. I quickly learned that the best way is to get out and practice! After a month I was proficient enough to survive on my own. It’s an incredible feeling to connect with someone in another language and to finally feel at home in a strange place.

Why did you decide to join Performing Arts Abroad? What draws you to our mission?

I love travel and playing music. The fact that I can combine the two with my work is incredibly fulfilling. I wish I could have gone abroad to study music or volunteer teaching music, but I didn’t. Now, I can help people live their dream and discover the broad world that awaits.

Word on the street is that you used to operate a crepe food cart in Portland, Maine. What was that like?

I used to own a Crepe cart in Portland, Maine. In college I had the idea to own a food truck. After some time working and living at my parents, I decided to take a risk and move to Portland without a real plan. After meeting my girlfriend who showed me how to make crepes, we got the idea for the food cart. I built it from scratch and the rest was history! Sadly, I recently sold the cart, but you never know, I may again someday make food for the street!

If you could do any PAA program, which one would you choose and why?

I would do the BLAS Music Intensive. I have never been to Ireland and I have always wanted to go! I would also get to play guitar with other musicians and then go to the campus pub for a jam session every night! I can’t think of a better opportunity for a musician.

A Message from our Director – November 2015

ReynoldsThanksgiving is a great holiday. No gifts are expected, and everyone is focusing on one of my favorite things: good food. It’s a rare moment in our cultural calendar where we set aside some time to recognize the blessings in our lives. As I do this myself, I reflect on the amazing opportunities I have had abroad.  I am especially grateful for the wonderful families all over the world who have hosted me in their homes, given me a safe and comfortable place to sleep, and provided me with meals prepared with love. For those of you who have stayed in homestays abroad, you might take a moment to reach out and reconnect with those families. From my experience, it will mean the world to them. Below is a picture of my first homestay in Kericho, Kenya, which I had the great fortune to revisit on a return trip two summers ago!
A lot of fear has been spreading lately following brutal attacks by extremist groups around the world. Unfortunately, this has led to xenophobia in many communities, especially against Muslims. One of my favorite things about Thanksgiving is that it is a holiday shared by people of many diverse religious and ethnic backgrounds. I enjoy the image of all of us–Black, White, Muslim, Christian, Atheist, Gay, Straight–sitting around tables with our families and friends, giving the proverbial finger to those who would try to intimidate us and spread hateful messages of violence and exclusion.

Last month I visited the home of Mark Twain, the famous author who once wrote “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.” Now more than ever I believe this is true, and I’m proud to see so many PAA applicants and participants defying the message that we should lock our doors and shutter our windows. Instead they are getting out there and seeing what the world and its people are really about, and how people are telling their stories through dance, music, theater, and film.

As always, I welcome you to e-mail me directly at reynolds@performingartsabroad.com  with any questions regarding our programs and how to get involved.  For a full list of locations where we offer programs, please see below.

Program Locations:

Belize
Brazil
Costa Rica
Ecuador
England
Galapagos Islands
Ghana
Ireland
Italy
Kenya
Philippines
South Africa
Spain
Thailand

Reynolds Whalen
Director of Performing Arts Abroad
reynolds@performingartsabroad.com
+1.413.341.5548