Jiya Arora – Maryland Nomination by Jiya Laxmi Arora Photography by Erica Land Photography Issue 40 of Inspiring Teens Magazine
The Nomination: Jiya Arora is an inspiring young woman. She excels scholastically and is a leader at school and in her community. Jiya is an accomplished dancer and has performed competitively in a variety of dance styles including hip hop, Indian classical, and Bollywood. Having danced since the age of 4, Jiya now teaches young dancers to become exceptional artists and confident young women. She also volunteers to tutor children in the early years, giving them gentle nudges to enjoy the learning process. Jiya always makes an effort to share her time, her kindness, and her positive energy with everyone around her. ...
I’m a busy girl, but in the best way. I have to keep a daily schedule because I have many activities to balance, and I love participating in every one of them. I'm a member of 9 clubs, I lead 2 other clubs, I’m a dance teacher, and I am dually enrolled in college and high school. Learning to manage my work has turned me into a Superwoman- there is nothing I cannot accomplish- as long as I have time for it!
I love sharing my passions. If I had to present a topic to a group of peers, I would choose the cultures of the world. I love traveling, but with COVID-19, I haven't been able to go anywhere, so I've started creating the experiences at home by studying the culture and watching documentaries about places around the world. It's been fun! I would recommend it.
Lessons as a Leader: Being a Dance Teacher
Through working with my students in dance class, they showed me that the only thing more important than accomplishing a goal is working with your team. When I started involving students in choreography, the routines we created were more beautiful and creative than my pieces because everybody contributed ideas.
The thing I love most about teaching dance is seeing students come back each season with better skills and character. The pride that my students award me with is a truly blissful feeling.
I think the thing that makes me different from other instructors is that I plan a technical goal (turns, facial expressions, etc.) and a personal growth goal (confidence, managing hard feelings, etc.) for every routine our class creates.
My Dance Career
I have been dancing since I was four, starting with Kathak- a classical Indian style of dance. I picked up Bollywood a few years later (and now I teach it!) and currently study both styles. Now, I am preparing for my first solo Kathak performance.
I have also been on a Hip-Hop competition team and a Fusion crew that performed at the United World Games in Austria.
The thing I love most about dance is the creative liberty to express myself through music and movement; it is truly liberating.
Every time an impressionable girl checks social media, she is bombarded with images of society’s beauty standards. If she doesn’t fit those standards, she may question her own beauty. Once upon a time, I was that girl. It was easy for me to point out my insecurities, yet impossible for me to point out my assets because I didn’t look like the girls on social media. It took me years to learn that my natural self, not distorted by anyone else’s ideal image, is my most beautiful self.
When I heard about Project Beauty, I knew I had to participate so that I could help other girls learn what took me years to figure out. The message that Project Beauty conveys is so important in the digital age: embrace your natural beauty, and don’t let anyone else convince you that you are not beautiful. Growing teens are easily influenced by media, so it is important that we provide them with media that cultivates confidence, not comparisons.
My Favorite World Culture Documentaries
Baraka (1992) is a documentary with no dialogue- just footage of the cultural happenings of 24 countries. Experiencing this wordless culture felt meditative; peaceful, yet expanding my understanding of the world.
God Grew Tired of Us (2006) is another good one, following the surviving “Lost Boys of Sudan” as they adapt to life in the United States. The questions that the boys asked upon arriving in America intrigued me- their curiosities ranged from running water to monogamy. Sometimes it’s easy to forget how differently people live around the world, but I think it is important that we acknowledge and appreciate that.
Look for Jiya in issue 40 of Inspiring Teens Magazine!