Storytelling through culture and music

Ariel Hayat '15

Ariel Hayat ’15

Tutor and Radio Assistant

Academic focus: anthropology major, music minor

Instrument: flute

Study abroad programs: University of St. Andrews in Scotland

Senior Thesis: Human Rights for All? Discrepancies of Knowledge and the Realization of Power via Human Rights Education Pedagogies within Uganda and Sub-Saharan Africa

Walking into my first year English seminar, Professor Louis Brown asked me what excited me, what was I passionate about?

I imagined a world where I learned about people from different backgrounds and cultures, listened to their stories, learned from them and expanded my worldview. She asked if I had heard of anthropology, I answered no. There began my love affair with the discipline and collecting people’s stories, looking at everything from different perspectives. I am incredibly grateful for the whole Anthropology department and professors Andrew Lass, Elif Babul, Joshua Roth, and the Academic Department Coordinator Michelle Pietras.

During my time at Mount Holyoke College, I had incredible opportunities to explore the world around me and participate in research projects across the globe. During my Sophomore year summer I went to Tokyo, Japan with anthropology professor Joshua Roth to research the concept of “hoko onchi” with university students across Tokyo.

During my Junior year, Spring semester, I studied abroad at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, one of the top anthropology programs in the UK, focusing on "Youth In Africa and the Anthropology of Work". This later informed my decision to work and do research in Uganda at the Straight Talk Foundation in the main city of Kampala, focusing on youth development, sexual reproductive rights, and current socioeconomic realities of the region. My senior year I completed a thesis on Human Rights Education and International Development models in Uganda and Sub Saharan Africa, working closely with my thesis advisor Holly Hanson.

In addition to my involvement within anthropology, my passion for music and flute playing has been instrumental in my growth and development. I started playing flute in junior high school, inspiring me to attend LaGuardia Arts High School in NYC. I knew that I had to continue in college and participated in the Mount Holyoke Symphony Orchestra, chamber groups, and private flute lessons.

My passion for music has consistently forged a beautiful community of like-minded individuals, and continuously expanded me beyond my own limits. When I connect with music I am reminded of the Mount Holyoke music department, Adrianne Greenbaum, Tian Ng, Allison Hale, Larry Schipull , and Jean Jefferies for inspiring and developing my musical skills. Whether practicing within Pratt on solos or engaging in musical dialogue with chamber group members, my musical practice reminded me of the world beyond academic study.

After graduating, music and storytelling has continued to be a grounding point when the rest of my life has been in disarray and scattered. I have participated in numerous music ensembles across the different cities I have lived in and it has brought incredible community and joy into my life. In addition, my passion for storytelling and authentic connection has led me into radio work in the New York City region where I currently work closely with producers in social media, research, and interviewing. I am currently in the process of starting my own podcast and in the beginning stages of becoming a host for a Catalysta project called the Beautiful Work Challenge later this year.