My name is Saad Jalisi, and I am a Levine Scholar in the Class of 2023. This summer I am interning for Opera Carolina in Charlotte, NC. I serve as an intern to the departments of Community Relations, Marketing, and Education; however, I have spent most of my time completing educational tasks, such as managing Opera Carolina’s Academy, a summer workshop for singers and actors in grades 6-12. This program spans over two weeks and includes classes on vocal performance, vocal health and hygiene, and stage combat. While the Academy occurs annually and has existed for over a decade, there is a 2020 twist: everything is online. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced the Academy, Opera Carolina as a whole, and many other arts organizations to mostly digital functions. Therefore, the Academy’s classes will all be taught and presented via Zoom. Yes, stage combat will be taught over Zoom.
Aside from the work I have completed as an intern at Opera Carolina, I have learned so much about the arts community by simply being with this organization in a time of crisis. As arts organizations may, for example, depend on selling ticketed seats at a physical venue, I have learned that COVID-19 has severely lessened the amount of those available tickets due to the quarantine and social distancing protocols required for public safety. Without meeting a certain threshold for sold-tickets, some arts organizations may be unable to function at full capacity or may face bankruptcy, threatening the financial and professional well-being of an arts organization’s staff, like my own coworkers.
Above all, if my summer experience has taught me one lesson, it is the importance of resilience in the face of adversity. Although my colleagues work tirelessly to preserve Opera Carolina, they continue to persevere, fight, and smile under immense pressure. To be resilient now is to continue to persevere, fight, and smile for the things that you, too, believe in.