The idea of home makes me think of firsts.
Home is where I took my first steps,
said my first words,
broke my first toy,
lost my first tooth.
I’ve always thought of New Urban Arts as my home, and it’s where I’ve experienced my other firsts.
First time someone laughed at one of my jokes
First time I danced in public
I heard Journey’s ‘Don’t Stop Believing’
First time I led a workshop
Developed my own film
Stretched my own silkscreen
First time I felt understood
In middle school, I often found myself sitting outside the principal’s office listening to adults talk about how I should be reprimanded for the trouble I caused.
At New Urban Arts I would cause the same trouble and instead of seeking to reprimand they sought to understand. Instead of making me sit outside in a chair, I was invited into a conversation in which I learned the difference between being in trouble and being trouble. By being trouble, I can make a difference. I can create change in the world, and lead others to do the same.
In my first year here, I came to this very same event and saw JJ receive his Sandra Olson award, and in his speech, he talked about everything he learned in this space.
It was the first time I heard an adult talk about learning.
I became open to the idea that I could learn more than art in this space. It felt like my welcome mat into New Urban Arts.
And welcome mats aren’t exclusive to entrances. You see them on your way out, too. This is my last year at New Urban Arts, since I’m going to be at Marlboro College in the fall, and receiving this award is like seeing the other side of the welcome mat.
But more than that, it feels like my home told me that it loved being my home.
So, thank you for this award.
And for being my home.
– CJ Jimenez