By Maurice L. Harris
In episode #3 of the Schwarzman Center web series, One, Taiga Christie interviews Tanya Yajnik and Yuwen Qiu about their recent collaboration, Agora Good Life, an energy-focused wellness app that is set to launch this summer. Yajnik and Qiu explain how their intersecting interests in arts and public health research inspired the app’s development. Yajnik, a skilled musician, concludes the segment with an aria from her spring recital that was postponed due to physical distancing.
Yajnik is a Master’s student at the Yale School of Public Health, Class of 2020, currently residing in Dallas, Texas. She studies concert piano and opera with instructors at the Yale School of Music and serves on the Student Advisory Committee for the Secretary & Vice President for Student Life. Since 2019, Yajnik has worked with the Schwarzman Center on arts, public health, and wellness programming. Prior to coming to Yale, she attended Wellesley College and the Texas Tech School of Medicine, where she focused on connections between mental health and the arts.
Qiu, co-developer of Agora Good Life, is a 2019 graduate of the Yale School of Public Health specializing in biostatistics. She is currently residing in Shanghai, China. As chief product officer of Agora, Qiu is responsible for product design, product marketing, and product innovation.
Qiu commented, “Agora is an event app that is designed to increase people’s energy through a growth mindset…Agora offers events that are quality, affordable, safe and convenient to help make young people feel more energized.”
Yajnik continued, “As we were working with public health, medicine, music, and the arts—across Eastern and Western practices—the idea of ‘energy’ came up many times. Agora breaks down all of this interdisciplinary work and explains it in a very simple way: Helping young people increase their energy.”
At the close of the episode, Yajnik performs an aria by Puccini, a piece from her currently postponed spring recital. She chose the song because “it sort of has that rebellious quality that I think is also very true in innovation…it sort of connects these different worlds that we’re talking about.”
Christie, the host of episode #3, is a theater artist and health worker who completed her Master of Public Health degree at Yale School of Public Health in 2019. Christie holds a joint fellowship with YSPH and the Schwarzman Center and studies links between the arts and public health as part of Humanities, Arts and Public Health Practice at Yale Initiative, also known as the HAPPY Initiative.
One, a web series produced by the Schwarzman Center, highlights interdisciplinary approaches to the arts in relation to the Center’s values of collaboration, wellness and belonging. The inaugural season illuminates the creative and academic merits of student works impacted by social distance and explores perspectives on community-building among dispersed groups. The series title, One, is a nod to the Schwarzman Center’s aspiration to advance a sense of “One Yale” and create an interconnected community that builds new traditions of student engagement around the campus and into the world.