Archive for February, 2012

Workshop #5 @ SOS Hermann Gmeiner Tibetan School : Pokhara

Posted by / February 20, 2012 / Categories: India 2011 Peace Exchange / 1 Comment
It took quite a bit of effort to get into a school on a half-day Friday.  The front gate was locked.  The side entrances appeared locked, but once around back, we found our way inside where we found the principal of the SOS Hermann Gmeiner Tibetan Elementary School.  This lovely little school was recommended to us by a graduate of the school, a woman who was working at a previous school we had visited.  The school is  located in the Tibetan Camp in Pokhara.               The Principal told us that many organizations from around the world are always asking to come to their school and do some kind of activity or workshop….even research with the kids.  He says that they get so many offers that they have to turn them all down.   Except when you show up with an arts for peace project and have experience working with Tibetan youth. It felt great to hear him offer his humble gratitude and appreciation of the project and his gratitude for us coming to his school to share this cross-cultural exchange of art and messages of peace with his students.   He stressed the on going, nearly 60-year struggle of the Tibetan people and said that Tibetans need peace.  Megha and I both repeated, “everyone needs peace” and he repeatedly emphasized that “we need it more!”  And on some level, I have to agree. He was very grateful and appreciative of the Peace Exchange and complimentary of this work I have been doing for the children. We spent the whole day at this school, doing four workshops in two 6th grade classes, and with both the fourth and fifth graders.   Working in smaller groups was nice.   The students highly respectful, polite, and courteous.   There presence was beautiful and their willingness to participate and share their ideas on peace, vocal and enthusiastic.   I find that Tibetan kids are given much more arts education than most of the other students I have worked with in India, Nepal and Uganda.   This was clearly demonstrated in their art work and positive messages shared on their peace cards.         Highlight Story:  In the last workshop of the day, we had a group of about 25 6th grade teenagers.  Shortly after we started, explained the project, discussed peace with the students and passes out peace cards, several boys asked to leave to go play in their final cricket match of the year.  An inter-school match.  Four boys left, changed clothes, and were off.  A couple returned for brief stints to put some love into their cards before they disappeared.  Several times boys would come back to the room and call to a young boy seated at the front of the room to join them.  They would yell at him to come on in Tibetan and he would continue working on his art.  After a third boy came and enthusiastically encouraged his teammate to come and he did not get up, I walked over and smiled.   “Peace is more important,” he said.   I was so moved and still to this moment feel deeply touched by his decision.   Finally the coach came and stressed that he was next to bat and that he must join the team and play.  He removed his jersey from his bag and with some slight resistance, stepped away from the beautiful work of art he was making and existed the room….not before I snapped a photo of him and his peace card.       I am grateful for the example this boy set and his dedication to the project and his choice to stay put for as long as he could to share his love and create something meaningful for the cause of peace.   Tashi Delek  

The Importance of Creativity

Posted by / February 20, 2012 / Categories: Nepal Peace Exchange 2012 / 3 Comments
I carry about 500 colored pencils, 400 markers (a.k.a: sketch pens, outside the U.S.) and a few hundred crayons along with assorted sharpeners, rubbers (i.e. erasers) and pens to share with the students during our 2012 Peace Exchange experience here in Nepal.

 Some of the most inspiring moments of Peace Exchange workshops happen while watching students eyes widen to the array of colors being presented to them and listening to their minds churn with possibilities that each new color provides.

 There are a few things I’ve learned in my years as an arts educator that strike me as important.  All kids, and all people, are naturally creative.  Creativity is the truest expression of our soul, of our deepest inner nature.  The way we choose to express ourselves is an expression of our inner voice; the authentic, raw, and real energy of our existence.   I choose to use visual art as the technique of choice, as I feel that in each picture a child can communicate so much about who they are and how they see the world.  In this case, we are talking about making art for peace.  The way a child organizes his/her thoughts, vision, and use of color, pattern, and form reveals so much about the innate inner wisdom and ease of their mind and heart.   Without extrapolating too much, I would guess that one could probably gauge a child’s intelligence by a simple drawing, but it’s nice to know that this is neither an important aspect of this project, or the intention of what we are doing.

Simply making art, by drawing and coloring, gives a child the opportunity to express itself in a unique and profound way, not regularly undertaken.               The second bit of wisdom I’ve gathered is that through the practice of making art, in this case, visual art and writing, a child or person, must turn their attention inward.  As one begins to explore being creative, they must shift their attention from the world around us inward, thus initiating a practice of introspection and the cultivation of self-awareness.   Looking inward to draw on thoughts, feelings, emotions, and ideas related to the peace topic at hand is, in my opinion, itself a peace practice. And thus, by making art for peace and then sharing it with a similarly aged student in another part of the world, each child is engaged in a multi-faceted peace practice.    Practices include:   1)  pause and breathe, be calm quiet and still.   2) reflect on the meaning of peace,  ones vision of peace  3)  send peace energetically out into the world   4)  turn ones attention inward in contemplation of being creative  5) transform thought/feeling into visual expression = alchemy 6) while being creative, one naturally pauses ~ focus brings quiet : “the Peace Pause”  7) creating something and giving it away is sharing.  Sharing art = sharing love and love = peace  (I’ve heard thousands of kids confirm it!)  *8) having fun while doing it all!

Arrival Nepal : February 1st, 2012

Posted by / February 14, 2012 / Categories: India 2011 Peace Exchange / 1 Comment
So, here we are.  Wow!  Nepal. It took almost a week to fully arrive, but now I am definitely here.   The first few days in Kathmandu were shocking and a bit disorienting.   All of a sudden I am in the 6th poorest country on the planet and walking around dirty streets of struggle.   It certainly took a minute to acclimate. But now I am feeling great and very much excited to be here, having our first Peace Exchange workshop day complete.  Today we spend the day at a local public school here in Chitwan where we held two beautiful sessions with about 160 teenagers.   One teacher comments early in the workshop how the students never get anything of the sort in an extra curricular activity….a sad state of affairs.  For most of the worlds children there are no art classes, let alone art supplies. The power of creativity is certainly a subject I am passionate about and will expand on this topic further, very soon.  It is certainly a pleasure to be able to engage these kids in a conversation on peace and share an art making experience with them, if only for a few hours. The excitement in the room is palpable.   The volume rises as students enter the room and quickly shifts to quiet as we establish some order and introduce ourselves.   Dropping into peace discussion an take time, with shy kids who are not used to speaking in class.  This is another interesting topic in today’s world of systemized education.  Being talked to rather than being encouraged to talk and share.   I felt some deeply moving moments today as students expressed their understanding of peace: one from a global and nationalistic perspective and the need for non-violence within and between nations, and another on the importance of inner peace touching on the notion that peace begins in our heart.   This concept is one that I like to get to in every workshop.   Emphasizing that peace does start in our heart and blossoms from the depths of the individual and from there out into the world. With attentive eyes, hearts captured, words flowing effortlessly….inner smile flourishing….I’d hug them all if I could……we move into art making. You can see photos from this workshop and more on our facebook page: