– the best chance life can give me is to find myself –
My parents, my friends and all the other people had a beautiful vision when they saw how rapidly I was walking down the road of life. I was about to be graduating in economics. I had reached the end, after spending a year studying in France, another excellent year in the United Kingdom, I had just finished my final year in Spain before returning to France to continue this race against the clock.
This is the first part of my story, nothing missing.
It would be ungrateful of me to not me proud of my academic career. I was really happy, but at the same time, I was overwhelmed by a confusion of feelings. When I looked back at the work it appeared as an insignificant report in an obscure academic collection. Scholarship without meaning… a path mapped out before me, a hypothetical, uniform future, an illusion that wasn’t thoroughly unpleasant.
Was I really living the life I dreamed of? I had never asked myself the question…
The truth of my story was there, but something essential was missing.
In the beginning, a few days before arriving in Spain, I barely recognized myself, but I could feel the transformation taking root within me. No logarithm could calculate it and no premonition could have foretold it.
I will always remember the moment when my internal challenge started. I was sitting on a bench in Seville next to a “strange” person, named Miriam. The same Miriam, who would later become one of the best leaders of our team, a dream team. We talked about everything and nothing, finding many points in common. Our phrases were short and for my part not always correct, knowing very little Spanish at the time. I barely followed the conversation, but one phrase I understood perfectly…
What do do you really want to do in your life?
I confidently answered: Firstly, I want to finish my degree! then I would like to become reporter, travelling constantly, or perhaps because of the tradition family… I will become a politician… a politician who will be able to really change things!
She smiled at me, and I thought I had scored with a successful answer and she ask again: Sounds perfect… but, what do you actually want to do in your life… what is your passion… what do you really want to do in your life?
The same question, but completely different… I was more stressed than during my finals.
I took my time and a deep breath: If I could start all over again… I would have loved to do something related to the world of art, and if today I were fifty, with unlimited money I would open an art gallery. An art gallery, but a bit different from most, a multi-purpose space open to everyone… I would love to contribute, to transform minorities into majorities by using art as a tool for social change.
This time she looked at me satisfied. Regarding me, I had stars in my eyes and butterflies in my stomach. Since this day, I was interested to find out what I really wanted to become.
That year in Spain, I adopted both Miriam & her little cousin with autism, and together we founded the project “Aprendices Visuales” that we love to define as a “tech non-profit” with a BIG mission: that children with autism can have the opportunity to develop to the maximum of their potential. We designed specifically for them two collections of books with pictograms, a total of twenty stories available as e-books and apps, all with visual supports for them to learn easily.
We also wanted to raise awareness of autism and hoped to create a better world for all the children… (just here… my element PASSION). We used art as a tool for change. Convinced that Art is one of the powerful tool for social change… we opened our own gallery and collaborated with other spaces, organizing exhibitions where artist’s with & without autism work was integrated in the same space without labelling it thus. We created an explosion of uniqueness.
Today I am writing… because I think we all have to find a what do you really want to do with your life “asker”!!! For me, everything that came after this question, only was a cascade of happiness, achievement and deep satisfaction. Everything just have and make sense. I consider that I am a very lucky person, first of all to meet my “what you want to do, asker”, to be receptive to this question and finally to create around the project Aprendices Visuales a space where we can express the better of ourself.
Generating with our passion a huge and positive impact in the society. This feeling of fullness is impossible to reproduce, the satisfaction of doing what we love while we are positively transforming the world around us… is simply inexplicable.
Lack of passion is fatal… and I know there is no magical recipe to find it… but I can convince you there is a second of magic in life, the second that connects us with ourselves… It is from this moment that we start shining and because we shine we do shine others.
– Amélie Jézabel Mariage | Founder of Aprendices Visuales
Amélie Jézabel studied Economics & Politics between France, the United Kingdom and Spain, acquiring a cultural matrix that makes her flexible, open-minded, and with a broad vision of reality. She is master in Journalism by the European University of Madrid and passionate about Art and Social Entrepreneurship.
In 2012, she founded the project Aprendices Visuales, a non-profit which develops technological tools that allow children with autism develop their potential & use art to raise social awareness. They have now reached more than 60,000 children in 20 countries and her trajectory has been recognized with national and international awards such as UNICEF, ChangemakersXchange or Forbes 30 Under 30, among others. She’s been invited as speaker in the TEDx IE Madrid to talk about “Art as a tool for social change”.
Her enthusiasm is contagious. She puts all her youthness, quest of emancipation and creativity in every projects. Today she continues her studies as a researcher at the Institut des Hautes Études en Art Plastique of Paris, following her dream, her life approach… to build a world where everyone of us, could be valued for their talents and capacities.