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Born and raised in Beirut, Lebanon, for 14 years, Yasmeen Abillama moved to Paris, France, with her parents and little sister after the Beirut explosion in 2020. The high school student is taking courses in Economics and Social Sciences, History and Geopolitics, and English literature, but is also very interested in art and posts works on her Instagram account ( ‘‘I am also in the process of creating an NGO supporting teenage artists who want to pursue art as a career,’’ she says. A prize-winning sprinter in school, she aspires to become a financial analyst or a lawyer.

Excerpts from an interview:

What got you interested in History and Geopolitics?

I decided to take these two subjects at school because of the passion I hold for learning how the past influences present behaviours. Geopolitics is full of fun facts, too. For instance, I was fascinated to learn that Turkish and Hungarian people originate from a single population that separated 600 years ago.

How do you feel these subjects will help you in the future?

Subjects like Economics and Social Sciences will help me for my future studies, as I plan to major in economics, business management or, on the other side of the spectrum, in political science.

Yasmeen Abillama

As for history and geopolitics, they are a way of understanding the present world by studying past behaviours and are, therefore, very insightful when planning for the future. Geopolitics can be helpful in business, as it influences the populations you can target as future buyers, for example.

You also have a deep interest in art.

I was introduced to the art world as a child. My mom works in the field, so I was really born with a passion for it. It’s my way of expressing myself in the rawest form.

What are your achievements in this field?

In 2020, I donated funds to the Lebanese Food Bank by selling my art in print or canvas form.

Tell us about the NGO you are planning that will help support teenage artists.

The NGO I am currently planning is called Listen to your heART. I hope to help struggling young artists in France to express themselves through their artwork. We help artists by promoting them and giving them a platform, by hosting pop-up galleries throughout Paris, as well as by printing their prints and selling them to generate revenue.

I know that young artists struggle to make a mark or express their passions due to various reasons, including pressure at school or financial issues. I have first hand experience of it as I struggled to pursue art due to my academic work load.

What is your dream career and how are you working towards it?

I am quite split with what I want to do in the future: I would like to work in investment banking or as a lawyer.

To truly find out what I was interested in, I took a one-week program at Columbia University this summer, where I studied finance and investment banking, and I fell in love with it.

I am still debating between these two careers. With a short vacation coming up, I also have an internship in a corporate law firm to see what law is really like in the field.

Who are your mentors and what lessons have you learnt from them?

Whenever I feel lost, I look to my parents, who taught me that I should always choose careers and hobbies I truly love.

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