Wed | Oct 18, 2017

To Russia, with love - Young Jamaican heads to Sochi for World Youth Festival

Published:Sunday | October 8, 2017 | 1:56 AMAmitabh Sharma
"Creative in Captivity" by Reeshemah Ball
"Profile" by Reeshemah Ball
"Pan Chicken Man" by Reeshemah Ball
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Most Jamaicans would remember, and perhaps swear by Lada, the no-frills, no-nonsense car from the erstwhile USSR. That was in the 80’s – a time and era that seems as far distant as that icon on four wheels.

The world has changed in three decades — from lifestyles to priorities, but some fundamentals hold their place as they have as far as mankind can reminisce — that of human bonding.

A young Jamaican has got an opportunity of a lifetime to connect with over 20,000 youth from 150 countries, to attend World Festival for Youth and Students in Sochi — and the messages she is carrying from this Rock is splashed in expressions of colours.

“I would love to give an elaborate story about a very calculated plan, but to be honest all I did was apply and had zero expectations,” said Reeshemah Ball.

Ball, who is a painter, says she chose fine arts as a vocation and a profession, despite the notions and challenges.

She, though, said that the notion of being an artist in this day and age might sound ‘absurd’ but it is a calling and after trying to force herself into other professions she kept coming back.

The motivation or the apprehension was “what if” when she would looks back on life.

“Many other professions piqued my interest especially those in science, literature and history due to my high level of curiosity but art has always been my first love,” she said.

“As it is,” she said. “In spite art has always been something that just felt right for me and I wanted the freedom to be myself unapologetically.”

For Sochi, she is showcasing her interpretation of Jamaican life, which she says would give an opportunity for the world to see and experience. 

“I’m very honoured,” she said. “Jamaica is an amazing place with amazingly talented people.” She added that she is looking forward to the experience, of course, with butterflies fluttering in her stomach.

“I plan to soak it all up and enjoy every single moment of it,” Ball said. “I’m also looking forward to seeing what knowledge I can bring back to others here in Jamaica.”

Known as the Pearl of the Black Sea, Sochi, host to 2014 Winter Olympics, will between October 14 to 22, converge youngsters, like Ball, which the organisers say is united by the ideas of solidarity, peace and friendship. 

The  focus  of  discussions  at  the  Festival  is  to  discuss  the  global  challenges  facing  modern  youth and to form the image of the future.

Ball says this destination, in the journey of her life, is one of the rewarding experiences.

“I am just excited and intrigued to see where the rest of the journey takes me,” she said.

Outlet of expression

Ball, in retrospect, says that in an era where people are caught up in technology and have put themselves in bubbles, making it easier for mental illnesses to fester, art provides an outlet to express themselves.

This University of the West Indies, Mona student feels that creative expressions have their relevance, especially in the developmental stages of children and young adults.

“Creating art is very stimulating for the brain, improves problem solving skills and relieves stress, which are can all be applied throughout life,” Ball said.

Her creative acumen, she hopes, will help her in getting a fresh perspective of life, travelling to the largest country in the world that spans 11 time zones.

“Working as an artist has introduced me to a vast range of different perceptions, ideas and knowledge,” Ball said. “By practising and admiring art, I have learned to be patient as well as how to accept things as they are without changing who I am.”

This journey of self realisation, and having now been given the opportunity to represent her country, she feels, she can expand her knowledge base and get a fresh perspective of life.

Ball is hoping that the experience, through the art, would to entertain, evoke emotions, generate social change and provoke thinking outside the box.

She is also expecting that after she returns home from this convergence of young minds in Sochi, she would be able to relate the experiences to encourage more young Jamaicans to think out of the box, immaterial whatever vocation they are in — try and confluence the logic, facts, linear thinking of the left brain to the imagination, rhythm and the arts of the right.

“I think the art has caused me to be open-minded because I try to see things from other viewpoints which in turn impacts how I interact with and relate to people,” Ball said.

Lada might have gone off the roads, but to appreciate life as a whole than individual pieces are symbolic of Matryoshkas, the iconic Russian wooden dolls, made of two parts, the smaller dolls are inserted in the big one.

A life lesson too, rather than taking apart and stressing about every little thing in life, just look apart, put the individual pieces together in harmony, and as Ball said, “Everything is a part of a bigger picture.”

Or we can say “Jamaica, to the world.”

amitabh.sharma@hotmail.com