It doesn’t take long to find yourself absolutely delighted by Aya’s personality, her quick wit, and her lively and colorful personality. All this topped by a surprising capacity to express her thoughts and feelings in a clear and articulate way, which is remarkable for a person her age.
Being born and raised in Syria, under a very conservative Islamic culture, she lived and studied in her home country until the war started. At the shortage of 11, she and her family escaped the war moving to China where she studied for four years in the Chinese public education system and later finishing her high school education at a foreign education curriculum. She has a reference from an insiders perspective of how it is to study under these three very different systems
What interested me the most is knowing how a person like her could overcome the difficulties of living in a very conservative Muslim society, where expressing yourself openly as a creative can be challenging, even more so when you are a young girl for whom expressing herself freely was simply natural.
As tragic as it is, the War in Syria represented an opportunity for her to mature and break away from some of the social and cultural restrictions, allowing her a bit of room to embrace her own personality.
Once in China, the challenges of being the only foreign kid in a public Chinese school, with a new language, a whole new culture, somehow reinforced in her the feeling of being different, feeling that was embraced without any trace of arrogance. Quite the contrary Aya have managed to adapt perfectly to the local Chinese culture as well as a “third culture kids” part of an expat community which has enriched her experience as a young creator.
Although Aya is still finding her own language in her creative work through drawing, painting, and writing you can already appreciate a distinctive style not only in the way she draws but also in the way she uses symbolism to communicate ideas.
I have been very interested in how the education system impairs our creative capacity and how each society manipulates their education system to perpetuate their own cultural values and social agendas. I was in search of somebody who could give me a perspective from the position of a student and Aya was the perfect person to give me that insight and much more, she is also a great example of endurance, adaptability, and self-protection without compromising her own personality.
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