PAX's Got Talent

The first contest of the year is in the books! The theme for the contest was simple. We asked PAX students to show us their talents—whatever they may be. Their submissions were judged based on overall talent, presentation, and the quality of the submitted files themselves (videos, photos, etc.).

...And they're featured here for you to enjoy!

—The PAX Press team

PAX Press Nov 2018 Web Cover

Dea's (YES, Indonesia) contest entry speaks for itself.


Contest Winner

When all the votes were counted, Fudhol, a YES Indonesian hosted by the Oestreich family in Wisconsin, was our overall winner with his hilariously professional and well-executed “YMCA” dance video. “The reason I picked this song is because it is an iconic comedic song,” Fudhol explains. “I first heard about it after one of the cross country meets I had in Janesville. My friend Tristan was dancing as the song blasted over the meet’s sound system.”

In the video, “I danced in the proper place as well, specifically in the Neenah-Menasha, Wisconsin YMCA” the Indonesian notes. “I arranged the concept and choreography with my host mom, and then asked for permission to record at the YMCA…My host mom did a great job recording me! I danced like they did in the 80's, using some old school moves and variety of new ones too to match the youngin’s caliber.”

In addition to finding the Fudhol's video below, as you scroll through this issue you can find videos of a number of other talented PAXers who created pieces specifically for the “PAX’s Got Talent!” contest.

Piano Prodigies

By way of the "PAX's Got Talent!" contest, we learned that Pablo (Spain, hosted by the Gros family in Texas) is a talented pianist who continues to play as much as he can during his exchange year.

Pablo is self-taught and has been playing for two years. He was inspired by a friend who introduced him to the music room in his high school. While she played the flute, he learned to play the piano and was soon practicing every day. Now he plays as often as possible at the home of his Texas host family (who fortunately have a piano!) and shared two of his favorite songs for his contest entry. Pablo says, “These songs are my favorite ones, because they are easy for me to play and they sound really good. I have spent a lot of time on them, especially “River Flows in You” because it was the first song I learned, and I was learning the piano notes at the same time.”

PAX's Got Vocalists!

I have always had a strong passion for singing, but I never had the opportunity to take singing lessons or brush up my talent. However, as soon as I came to the U.S., my host family heard me sing and urged me to join the choir. My choir teacher, in turn, encouraged me to audition for regional honors choir, and I did. Two weeks later, I was chosen to audition at the state level. As an exchange student, I feel honored beyond words to reach this level of competition, and I am looking forward to making the most out of this amazing experience.

For this contest, I am singing “Hallelujah” in English and in my mother tongue: Arabic. The main purpose behind this mash-up is to pay tribute to multiculturalism and shed light on music as a tool to unite people, bring them closer, and transcend misunderstandings. I have always wanted to be an ambassador of peace and harmony. This chance allows me to fulfill a dream that I have nurtured for so long through the magic of music, the charm of my voice, and the power of words.

—Khawla (YES, Morocco) hosted by the VanHouten family (MI)


Painting a Life in a Year

Yuliia (1) is really embracing her exchange year and (2) is a talented visual artist. She sent a time lapse video set to music—sharing her creative process—as her contest entry. We are so glad she shared this wonderful piece of herself with all of us!

Yuliia (FLEX, Ukraine, hosted by the Sanfilippo family in North Carolina) started painting when she was just six. With encouragement from her family, she drew pictures of people and nature scenes, and by middle school was competing in competitions. Her current ambition is to improve her portrait painting skills.

She says, “While painting, I feel relaxed and happy. I take inspiration from people, photos, and especially cozy atmospheres, which I always try to create around me. Fall is my favorite season of the year with all the sweaters, colorful trees, and falling leaves. These things inspire me to paint most of all! Painting is a small but an integral part of me and I am really happy to share it with PAX.” Yuliia’s inspiration for the picture in her video was the night sky and forests of North Carolina.


Non-Contest Stories from This Issue