“What is possible in art becomes thinkable in life.” – Brian Eno
Growing up, I was a very shy kid, which is not necessarily the first thing that comes to mind when you think of a singer. Whenever I met new people, I would withdraw and observe what was happening from a safe distance. I felt most comfortable in places I already knew with people I had known for a long time. But from an early age I also had a strong interest in the world, in how it worked and what it looked like outside the four walls of my home.
The more I learned about how the world works, the injustices that characterise it, the more I realised that I wanted to make a difference and help make the world a better place for everyone. And the older I got, the clearer my vision became of what this world should look like and how I would contribute to making this utopia become a reality. Consequently, choosing to study international affairs was an easy decision for me.
Yet, how was I supposed to enter the field of international affairs given my fear of being judged and speaking in front of strangers? It is partly thanks to my musical training that I overcame this fear and learned to approach new challenges with enthusiasm and open-mindedness. As an artist, you are at your most vulnerable when you display your voice on a stage in front of hundreds of strangers, just as you are also vulnerable when you stand up for what you believe in. In both instances, you are showing a very personal side of yourself, your ideas and your values. Whether you are singing on stage or fighting for your beliefs, it is your voice that shines through.
You may wonder how lyrical singing and international relations go together, but for me, I could not do one without the other. Music makes you dream. It can transcend borders and bring people together. The emotions and passion released through music know no boundaries and have the power to touch people from all walks of life and all corners of the world. In music, a more connected, joyful world is possible, so why wouldn’t it be the same in reality?
My singing has helped me find my voice, literally. Not only have I learned to speak in front of strangers and advocate for a world I believe in, but I have also recognised a beauty in our world that gives me hope for my work in international affairs. At the same time, my studies at the Institute and my understanding of the world have helped me become a better artist, one who understands the power music can hold. Whether I am on stage as a singer, or speaking about my field of study, I have found that my voice is both vulnerable and powerful at the same time; a voice that may one day help make the world a better place, whether on an operatic or international stage.