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Berra Nur Yüce: Using Music for Activism

Berra Nur Yüce: Using Music for Activism

Ladderworks is a publishing platform of diverse picture books and online curriculum with the mission to empower over a million kids to become social entrepreneurs. Our current series features interviews by our interplanetary journalist Spiffy with inspiring Social Entrepreneurs, Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Builders, and Changemakers who are advancing the UN SDGs. 

Spiffy here with the scoop on the entrepreneurial leaders of Planet Earth. As the only interplanetary journalist stationed on this blue planet, I’m thrilled to present this galactic exclusive with Berra Nur Yüce, the founder of Making Change with Music. Let’s learn what’s happening there and how Berra is making a positive impact in the world.

Spiffy: Hi Berra, thanks a million for talking to me today. Tell me, what challenge are you addressing through Making Change with Music?

Berra: Thanks for having me, Spiffy! With my project, I am aiming to raise awareness, reach, and inform people through the global language of music. I decided to choose a specific topic to start this project, which was raising awareness about the benefits of music on people with Alzheimer’s and dementia. Music has a significant impact on these individuals as it helps reduce anxiety and increases social interaction. 

Spiffy: What motivated you to do it?

Berra: My grandmother, Nadiye, had Alzheimer’s. She forgot our names a lot of times but whenever she heard her favorite song she smiled, got excited, and joined us in singing along. At that time, I didn’t know about this but somehow I saw that she was actually remembering some feelings and memories through these songs. After I learned about the effects of music on Alzheimer’s, I felt that I should make more people aware of this.

Spiffy: How would you say that your organization is working towards a more equitable world?

Berra: I would say that my first song was a start, and I think that gives my project a lot of potential. That was just the beginning of me using music for activism. I believe there are countless other issues for which we can create change through the “universal language of music.” Therefore, I can say that with my project I can work towards promoting an equitable world of inclusion, diversity, and social justice. Additionally, I believe that my music can be the voice of the one who can not speak. Just like the song that I started working on which has a protest theme that will hopefully tell some important words that some are afraid to tell.

Spiffy: Tell me about a recent organization milestone or initiative. What impact does it make on your audience/community?

Berra: I proposed this project to Rise, an initiative that supports young people as they work to serve others, and became a Rise Global Winner in 2021. With the opportunities that Rise gave me, I am studying at UWC Atlantic College in the UK. Every week, I go to local rest houses in Wales for music therapy. I sing the childhood songs of the patients with them and our interaction is incredible. 

Spiffy: Please share an experience when you faced failure and didn’t give up. What did you learn from it?

Berra: In the first weeks in my new school, I was excited about the many opportunities to get involved in, and I applied to them but got rejected which made me feel down. However, I stayed patient and tried to find roles that would suit me best. In the second term, I didn’t give up and continued to work hard, and I was able to become involved in many activities that I truly enjoyed. Recently, I was elected as the wellbeing council chair through a school-wide vote, and I am proud of the progress I've made.

Spiffy: Is there anything else you would love to tell our audience?

Berra: Last week during a music therapy session when we were singing "Fly Me To The Moon" to the people, I engaged very well with someone. We started singing the song to each other while dancing together. After our beautiful interaction, she started crying and expressed how happy she was. It was the last session of the term, and I was thrilled to end it with such a beautiful moment. My teacher even told me that I am now eligible to teach music therapy to new students. And now I am excited to start my own music therapy sessions in Turkey this summer with the people I will be teaching. I'm also starting to work on a new song for my project, which tackles an essential topic! I am looking forward to seeing the impact of my project!

Spiffy: Thanks for speaking with me today, Berra—it’s been an honor!

Berra Nur Yüce was born on November 30, 2004 in Turkey. When she was in primary school in Diyarbakır, she discovered her love for music. At 16, she became a global winner of the initiative 'Rise for the World,' because of her project on raising awareness through music. She now lives in Wales and studies at UWC Atlantic College. (Nominated by Rise of Schmidt Futures. First published on the Ladderworks website on June 6, 2023.)

The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the interviewee and do not necessarily reflect those of Ladderworks LLC.

© 2023 Ladderworks LLC. Edited by George Romar. Spiffy’s illustration by Shreyas Navare. For the Ladderworks digital curriculum to help K-3 kids advance the UN SDGs, visit Spiffy's Launchpad: Creative Entrepreneurship Workshops for K-3 Kids and their caregivers here.