As I entered the rooms in Catherine the Great’s palace in Pushkin, St. Petersburg, each one acted as an individual pocket of history. For example, The Great Hall contained floor-to-ceiling mirrors and gold leaf decor, which set the stage for imagining the waltzes and lavish banquets that took place there. One of the most memorable rooms in the palace was the famed Amber Room, which is now a recreation of the original one that was damaged during World War II. The efforts to preserve such a historic marvel showed through the meticulously crafted amber panelling and restored ceiling frescos. I was amazed by the fact that even though each part of the palace harbored its own story, it became hidden by not only their physical remoteness from the populous city, but also by how easy it can be to overlook the details behind each narrative. From then on, I set out to find a way to make cultures more accessible through the eyes of the locals and curious travellers.
Throughout my time in Europe this past summer, I was able to learn about Russia and the other Baltic countries I visited through the perspective of the inhabitants, which instilled in me an appreciation for authentically experiencing a country’s culture and history. Carrying this idea, I travelled to New York and had the opportunity of working with writers from the New York Times and conducting my own reporting in the city. I never thought that this would be the place where I would end up making a close and inspiring friend: Sonia Visone. We began talking about growing up in different countries and how our school experiences compared. I learned a lot about her life in Monaco, which was the turning point in deciding how I would carry out this project. We decided to collaborate on a publication open to the global community that featured both native and visiting voices that reflected on their experiences around the world. With guidance for design from Alejandra Cruz, our Art Director, we were able to put together the vision I had at the beginning of the summer.
We chose the theme of Arts and Culture since it allowed us to showcase diverse aspects of the world, from a country’s music scene (Snapshots from Cairo: Pop Culture and Tradition Juxtaposed) to a country’s culinary traditions (Culinary Colombia). Even if it meant learning more about your own heritage (Off-kilt(er): The Unique History of Kilts), or becoming more in touch with your culture (Reaching Back To My Roots), it brought about a reflection on the complexities of an individual and the societies they live in. I am excited to share with you this publication, or better yet, a global voice.