The Sixteenth

Guest List

Gabriel Romero: an 11-year-old ballet dancer who remains steadfast about his passion for dancing as the only boy ballet dancer among dozens of girls. In a recent 60 Second Docs video, Mr. Romero speaks articulately about what it means to dance without worrying about what others think.

Shamsia Hassani: an award-winning street artist in Afghanistan who risks her life to create her art publicly as graffiti, according to a NowThis Her video. She is somewhat of an activist, often portraying female in burqas and hijabs, with the hope of inspiring women. Additionally, Ms. Hassani is one of the founders of the Berang Arts Organization which, according to the mission statement on its Facebook page, “[works] to develop contemporary arts and enrich of culture in Afghanistan.” Currently, Ms. Hassani teaches fine art at Kabul University.

Sabrina Benaim: a writer and performance and teaching artist. In a video on Button Poetry, Ms. Benaim performs her spoken-word poem “Explaining My Depression to My Mother,” a powerful declaration about her depression which seems to comment on a larger societal ignorance regarding mental health issues such as anxiety and depression.

Michael Yee: a 10-year-old boy who is seen in a Huffington Post video requesting an apology from Vice President Mike Pence for being accidentally elbowed in the face at a White House event last week. After reporters on Fox News made insensitive comments about Mr. Yee that were “out of context,” his mother, Dr. Ingrid Herrera-Yee went on CNN to discuss her frustration with their remarks. She indicated that her son is autistic and requested that the public and the media increase their awareness of autism. Furthermore, she stated that children should not be used “as examples on national television,” at all. Mr. Yee is invited because he reminds us of basic politeness in a truly innocent interchange between himself and the Vice President. He reminds us that even those in the highest positions of power should be respectful of others. However, hypothetically speaking, Dr. Herrera-Yee is welcome to attend with or in place of her son.

Lorenzo Quinn: an artist who created a sculpture for the 2017 Venice Biennale that pleads for action to be taken in regards to climate change, as seen in a PlayGround + video on Facebook. The sculpture, called “Support,” consists of massive hands emerging from a canal in Venice and clinging to a building, symbolizing the potential loss of the city due to rising sea levels.


Each of the guests this week has an important message for society. How would this come into play at the dinner table? Would it be an opportunity to reiterate pleas for awareness of certain issues? Would it be an opportunity to collaborate on how to increase social cognizance? Would it be a casual dining experience for humans of various walks of life to enjoy positive conversation about their interests, beliefs, and dreams?

Mr. Romero would possibly be interested in conversing with Mr. Yee because of their closeness in age and outspokenness.

It is possible that Ms. Hassani would interact closely with Mr. Quinn, based on their mutual artistry and creativity. Perhaps they would exchange thoughts about the messages and symbols of their art. Perhaps they would discuss the cultural and social influences on their work.

What role would Ms. Benaim play? It is hard to speculate on how she would interact, if she would interact, with the other guests. Would she avoid discussing the complex topics of depression and anxiety? Would she feel comfortable to disclose details about her work? Would she feel compelled to perform a spoken-word poem?


Is the dinner table a forum? Is it a place where we can freely profess our convictions? Is it important that we practice such expression in this type of setting? Why?

Moving into the week, the HDP theme is “Rallying Cries.”

Follow HDP on Facebook to see posts throughout the week and join the conversation (or, we should say, “table talk”).

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