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Help Meena, cellist, study at Interlochen

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This GoFundMe is being organized for Meena, an outstanding young cellist and composer who has been accepted to Interlochen Arts Academy, a prestigious boarding fine arts high school for the Fall 2021 academic year.
"I'm very lucky and grateful for the opportunity to be studying in Interlochen. I know it will have a huge and wonderful impact on my life and get me another step closer to achieving my dreams. Thank you all for your support." - Meena

About the Fundraiser:

Meena has been awarded a generous scholarship but needs your help to secure her place at Interlochen Arts Academy for the 2021 academic year. This fundraiser aims to cover the remaining amount needed for her tuition (22,656USD), and the costs for her visa and application fees, flight, health insurance, books and educational items, and other basic needs (10,000USD). A full breakdown of these items is available upon request.

About Meena
Meena started her studies on the cello at the Afghanistan National Institute of Music (ANIM) when she was 10 years old. Being a young female musician in Afghanistan, Meena has had to overcome many challenges in the form of societal pressures, conservative pushback, gender inequality, and misunderstandings related to music and musical practice. Nevertheless, she kept on. She found a community of friends and supporters at ANIM. As a cultural ambassador, she's inspired a global audience through her performances with the Zohra Orchestra, Afghanistan's first all-female orchestra, and has been featured in interviews with NBC News, SBS News Australia, and BBC World. Throughout this time she has built upon the important values of music and the many ways music can help others as well as represent her story to connect with the world. Within her 16 years, Meena exhibits great potential as a cellist and musician, remains at the top of her class, shows iron determination and wisdom beyond her years, and exhibits qualities of true leadership.

Meena is grateful for these opportunities, and she knows that to realize her potential and continue to build upon her best strengths she needs to continue her education in an environment free of fears and insecurity about her future; in a place like Interlochen that can fully support her educational goals and musical growth.

In addition to her role as principal cellist of Zohra Orchestra, Meena leads the cello sections of the Afghanistan National Symphony Orchestra and Chamber Orchestra. Through this work, she has gained experience on a large international platform, with performances in a dozen counties and in venues such as the Sydney Opera House, the British Museum in London, and the World Economic Forum in Davos.
Alongside her study of cello repertoire and chamber music, Meena has learned the Dilruba (the traditional Afghan bowed instrument) and holds a large repertoire of Afghan traditional and folk songs. She regularly performs within ANIM’s traditional ensembles, both nationally and internationally.

Meena has recently started to compose. Her first piece titled "Dawn", for cello and orchestra was premiered in 2021 and featured in a prominent event with Afghan officials honoring International Women’s Day. The piece portrays the pains, dreams, hopes, and struggles faced by women and girls in Afghanistan today—and ends on an unresolved chord, to symbolize the many challenges still faced by Meena’s generation.

Dawn : composition for cello and orchestra
"The reason why I left my song incomplete is that I wanted to tell the truth. The truth is the unfinished struggle of women. I will complete this song when all Afghan women have achieved their dreams and rights." -Meena Karimi
This particular video below shows her explanatory speech to a delegation of Afghan officials on International Women's Day, with a shortened version of the composition. The full work may be viewed here in a recorded performance by the Afghanistan National Institute of Music.

Meena is an avid reader, writer, loves to draw, and speaks three languages.

Personal Statement

Meena's statement to Interlochen Arts Academy application and personal writing titled "My Life with Music":

About the Organizer

I’m Robin Ryczek, and I’m hosting this fundraiser on behalf of Meena Karimi. For the past six years, I’ve been Meena's cello teacher at the Afghanistan National Institute of Music. I’m also an Interlochen alum: I spent my senior year of high school there. It was one of the best years of my life. I know it’s the perfect place for Meena to realize her dreams.
Meena will bring volumes to the Interlochen community and Interlochen will offer an unimaginable wealth of knowledge and experience for her: it’s a perfect fit. She is a talented musician, a great thinker, a kind soul, a curious learner, and a true leader. It’s these qualities, and her personal initiative, that has earned her a place at Interlochen.
Four years ago, in one of our after-school chats, Meena confided in me that attending an academy like Interlochen was a personal dream. She was 12 years old at the time. Since then, she’s pursued that dream with determination, focus, passion, and joy. It’s been my delight to guide her path towards works like the Boccherini Concerto, Bach’s solo cello suites, and Popper etudes. Now that she's earned her place at Interlochen, it can be all of our delights to help her realize her future dreams.

About the Funds
The funds will enter into a separately established account named IAA Meena, hosted under my personal bank account in the U.S. Service Credit Union. I will hold responsibility for the transfer of these funds to Interlochen for her tuition and payment for other living expenses. All funds will be used for Meena's full benefit according to the itemized breakdown. Any funds raised over the requested amount will be saved and designated into a trust for Meena's second year at Interlochen. For persons who donate, all transactions and financial records will be made available at any time, as well as with regular updates of Meena's progress at Interlochen.


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Robin Ryczek
North Falmouth, MA

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