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Voices that Aspire

As a kid growing up on American Samoa, I often marveled (through movies, music, and literature) at the World beyond the island shores. I wondered about the food, the sounds, the sights, but mostly the people. And to go deeper, I was curious about the people who were creating art; The artists behind all of the beautiful (and often times funny) movies, comics, literature I was consuming. I wanted to step beyond consuming, and produce. I wanted to produce with the same spirit and tone as art I was consuming –with a twist of my own sensibilities.

But I found, after retrospect, that I was my own greatest obstacle. Grateful now that I’ve found ways to cultivate that fire within myself. But what of my Youth? Where could I be now, if I had a mentor, a guide, a kick in the butt in some direction when I was younger?

Young filmmakers discussing their ideas...

It does no one any good to dwell on such nostalgic plights. So I don’t, or try not to anyway. Instead, I do what I can to offer assistance (and some times forcibly put in attention) to anyone I sense struggling to find their artistic voice. Or that unrealized potential that just needs a gentle nudge out of the door…or window…or plane.

Last Saturday, Feb 18th,  marked the first day of my volunteer status with Adobe Youth Voices. It’s a program I was involved in (in similar capacity) a few years ago and am happy to be returning to. For those of you who are unfamiliar, Adobe Youth Voices, according to their website:

Adobe Youth Voices aims to empower youth in underserved communities around the globe with real-world experiences and 21st century tools to communicate their ideas, exhibit their potential, and take action in their communities.

And from all that I’ve seen, I think they’re accomplishing just that; Good on them for being available and committed to have this robust program available every year. In addition, it works on a global scale!

Adobe Youth Voices in Pakistan

Adobe Youth Voices in Pakistan (Photo credit: iEARN-USA)

Adobe Youth Voices Workshop, Bucharest, Romania

Adobe Youth Voices Workshop, Bucharest, Romania (Photo credit: iEARN-USA)

On top of that, they’ve officially launched the Aspire Awards which, again, according to their website:

The Adobe Youth Voices Aspire Awards is an international juried media competition that recognizes projects that best illustrate the program’s ‘Create with Purpose’ philosophy.

Submissions are now open!

With three more Saturdays to go in our Volunteer schedule, it’ll be interesting to see what the kids develop during the week. Definitely save the date to join us at the Youth Voices screening at CINEQUEST on March 10th, 11am in San Jose. (

In the meantime, check out this (Square Marden) video blog from our day at Adobe!

Are you also an artist who struggled to find their voice? I’d love to hear about it. Please feel free to use the comment box below. Support these young filmmakers!

If you’d like to follow Adobe Youth Voices and Cinequest, here’s an easy way!

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