Hello! I’m Kelly Schiller, Theatre Action Project’s new Community Relations AmeriCorps VISTA. Upon first arrival at the TAP office, I was mesmerized. Amongst brightly painted walls, playful murals, gigantic puppets floating from the ceiling, and craft supplies organized nicely in all crevices of the building, smiley faces greeted me in every room. Pledging myself to a year of service for AmeriCorps may seem daunting, except when the organization I’m serving is Theatre Action Project; what more could I ask for? After explaining my TAP position to 150 fellow Vistas at the AmeriCorps training, countless times I heard, “Your organization does what? It uses art to educate? I’m Jealous. I wish I could be doing something that fun.”
I was immediately drawn to TAP’s mission to use creative arts and education to initiate social change. After a service trip to Africa in 2007 where I experienced extreme poverty for the first time, my life took a screeching turn to a path dedicated to activism, human rights, and social change. I spent the rest of my college years studying how I can help leave a positive impact in the world by majoring in Environmental Studies, Political Science, and International Relations. My love of different cultures and determination to explore causes and solutions to social and environmental injustices led me to 29 countries. From teaching swing dancing in India to filming documentaries for non-profits across South America, my travels have brought me back home to Austin to serve my own community.
As a dancer since childhood and fascinated by the circus, I co-founded C.U.@Circus, a 400+ member community that meets weekly to learn and share circus arts. Witnessing and experiencing the healing and transformative power of play is what led me to TAP. TAP has mastered the art of seamlessly merging the creative arts with social responsibility. Education is not a product given to uninterested youth by unenthusiastic adults. Rather, TAP transforms education into an entertaining, interactive experience, empowering our youth to become creative contributors to society.
I am bouncing in glee on my spring stilts that there exists a creative approach to social change, and TAP is the embodiment of that. I’m grateful to be a part of this organization and this movement. Hooray!