Some weeks ago, I received an offer to study in New York University in Abu Dhabi. I was excited and proud to have managed to pass their vigorous selection for the Master's degree in Art and Media. Not only was I going to embark on an exceptional artistic and academic adventure, but I was also going to be the first Lithuanian to be accepted into this program. However, all my efforts and ambitions are limited by a simple criterion that is insurmountable to myself alone - finances.
For more information, check my website: https://danute-vaitekunaite.com/nyu-abu-dhabi/
How did I get there?
Born and raised in Siauliai, I graduated from Julius Janonis gymnasium with three 100 scores (maximum for state exams) and was congratulated by the mayor of Siauliai Arturas Visockas and Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis. They asked me, what’s next?
Next came a gap year, during which I worked as an Au Pair in France. I learned the language, travelled, and saved up money for my foundation year studies in Ecole des Beaux-Arts de Sète in the south of France. Upon completing the year, I was awarded a financial prize of encouragement by Dupuy de Parseval Bank to pursue my studies.
I continued my studies in La Haute Ecole des Arts du Rhin (HEAR), a prestigious art school in Strasbourg, France. During my Bachelor’s in Fine Arts, I enriched my artistic practice with many mediums – film making, painting, sculpture, performance, installation, writing, photography, printmaking. To further complement my creative practice, I began learning Arabic language and discover the issues in the MENA region. During my studies, I worked part-time in the National and University Library (BNU) in Strasbourg, during which I collaborated with association “Alsace-Lituanie” and organized a presentation of Lithuanian books of the BNU for the Lithuanian ambassador Nerijus Aleksiejunas. I joined the Union of Lithuanians in Strasbourg and gave Lithuanian language and art classes to children. I also did several internships in film shooting, video editing and color grading with French artist Mali Arun and worked in an independent film production company “Atlas Vision” in Tunisia.
After obtaining my Bachelor of Fine Arts with distinction, I embarked on a 6-month long internship in the Institut Français of the French Embassy in Abu Dhabi, where I worked alongside cultural attachée Nathalie Choplain and discovered cultural diplomacy by working on international cultural projects from different sides. During this exceptional experience, I worked on events with Louvre Abu Dhabi, Sharjah Biennial, Sharjah Book Fair, Art Dubai, and the visit of Rima Abdul-Malak, the French Minister of culture. I also had the chance to observe the newly established Lithuanian Embassy and get to know the ambassador Ramunas Davidonis and deputy head of mission Gabriele Niekyte.
This professional experience allowed me to discover NYU Abu Dhabi and take the decision to apply for a graduate degree in Art and Media.
Founded in 1831, NYU, or New York University, is a prestigious private research university located in New York City, United States. NYU Abu Dhabi and NYU Shanghai are among the university's other major campuses. NYU (24th place on the Times Higher Education World University Rankings) has gained international recognition for its academic excellence and its strong emphasis on arts, sciences, business, law, engineering, and the humanities.
The specific position of NYU Abu Dhabi in a local and global contemporary art ecosystem is one of the main reasons that makes this university a unique institution to study art on a graduate level. NYU Abu Dhabi‘s geopolitical placement makes it an exciting place to produce art and position oneself on social issues.
Studying at a world-renowned American university in the heart of the Middle East would not only help me to develop my artistic practice, further my studies of Arabic language and culture, introduce me to the international art scene, and help me to build professional contacts, it would also become another bridge between Lithuania and the UAE, making Lithuania's name more known around the world. I would continue my work and research on various issues that interest me, such as narrative construction and control, globalization, identity, languages, poetry. I would like to use my international experience, multilingualism, and contacts not only by creating in and for Lithuania, but also in cultural diplomacy, continuing my work on behalf of Lithuania and developing its soft powers.
How much do I need?
I have been awarded a generous merit and need based grant by the NYU Abu Dhabi, that covers 70% of the student fees. The remaining 30% is 36.880 USD for two years - which is a sum I can hardly comprehend. Concerning my living expenses, I will try to cover it by working part time and turning to my family for help. Therefore, I am asking your help to help cover only my student fees. If you are a business owner and you wish to support me, don't hesitate to contact me.