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Pioneer Public – Vanessa Vivas

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Written By Hattie Charney, Co-features Editor

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International student Vanessa Vivas has used her status in this country to encourage people to vote to help continue her dream of acting.

“I am international and I am on a student visa which essentially means that I am not a citizen at all,” Vivas said. “My status in the country is ‘non-resident alien,’ which is still a shock to me. The title is very daunting, but I get it.”

Vivas, sophomore performance and practices major, was born in Venezuela and grew up in Qatar. At the time that she lived in Qatar, she had never attended a political march or protest because it was unheard of. Any public protest had to receive permission from the government, which would never allow public demonstrations.

“People tend to take for granted some things, voting is one of them,” Vivas said. “Just because people get lazy I guess and they get complacent. I think that my existence is a reminder to people that it’s not something you should take for granted. It’s not something that is always there for people and accessible and the fact that it is accessible to you, means that you should do something about it and you should take it and jump in with both feet and do it.”

Vivas can conclude from an outside perspective that the U.S. has a long list of things to work on, but we as Americans tend to overlook the fact that we have a democracy that works and voting is a “perk” that American citizens should be taking advantage of.

“Taking advantage of that is so important, and to ignore it is a civic irresponsibility,” Vivas said.

Moving to the U.S. and seeing the amount of political activism from the younger generation is something that Vivas is passionate about and cares deeply for.

“Coming here and seeing the diversity and the opportunity and the energy from our generation to go out and speak and fight for things is so enlightening and just heartwarming,”
Vivas said.

One instance of the importance of publically protesting to Vivas is when she attends political marches, such as the Women’s March this past January.

“I remember every march I go to,” Vivas said. “I am in a perpetual state of chills, perpetual state of goosebumps because it’s so powerful. There is nothing like uniting and fighting for a cause together and in public, like doing that in public and speaking about it in public is something that really calls to me.”

Vivas is passionate about the younger generation having a say in what the future holds. She believes that the younger generation needs to vote and to participate.

“With this culture that we have here in the U.S. [is] to speak out,” Vivas said. “It’s impossible to not vote; you got to go do it.”

Vivas said that doing theater has changed who she is radically. She used to be the quiet kid that never raised their hand during class, but after she moved to the U.S. and pursued acting and social activism, she became who she is today.

“When I started doing theater, I started changing radically,” Vivas said. “Even in the year that I’ve been here, I am more outgoing than I’ve ever been, I’m more outspoken than I’ve ever been and I’m the most comfortable I’ve ever been and it makes sense because I grew up in a country where being outspoken isn’t the best thing. I think doing theater while growing up, that helped me to become fearless, articulate and just myself.”

Vivas is lined up to perform in several upcoming shows being put on by Pinnacle Production, Point Blank Comedy Collective and with the City Theater. Vivas is continuing to perfect her craft and hopes to keep improving and
learning.

“I want to, as a performer, take people’s breath away,” Vivas said. “And then as a person give it back.”

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