Filed under: art,education,General,Goodness,health / healing,politics
Written By: laurence
Perhaps this is not one of those times, but in any event, here I am. I apologize to Andrei and the DS community for my tentative beginning and long absence. I have no real excuse other than being preoccupied with life and unsure of how or what I have to contribute.
I am no great writer or thinker, and in a community that seems built on that, posting can seem a bit intimidating.
As a painter and student, my work is solitary as is my nature. Though as I get older I feel my creative work becoming less introspective. I do not feel the impulse to force it in the direction of being socially or politically relevant, but I have been gradually cultivating a vocabulary of images that may have some contemplative or transformative value. It is not that I feel that the world is not in need of drastic and revolutionary changes, clearly it is. The transformation that occupies me is the persistent, gradual, and quiescent experience of looking inward and vigilance in my daily behavior and words (1.).
I recently had the privilege of visiting a truly remarkable group of students. They had previously visited the museum where I work (in the education department). In our brief time together we bonded. These kids really moved me. Though they are all challenge with a variety of low incidence disabilities and the social, academic and cultural isolation that goes along with that, they were all so kind, compassionate, funny, creative and wise (far beyond their years). We have corresponded since then and they had invited me to visit them. They have a truly remarkable teacher and support staff, which many kids in their situation do not have. Their teacher has a curriculum with emphasis of socio-cultural heroes and civic responsibility. So the students researched different ways in which they could contribute to their community and decided they were interested in elderly care. After researching several different therapies, they connected with a local nursing home, which they now visit on a weekly basis. This has had an enormous impact on them, and on many levels. For the first time in their lives, these kids are the caregivers, rather than receivers. For many of them, the feeling that they are needed by someone else is entirely new and a wonderful experience. This has been a great boost to their confidence and feelings of self-worth. They have also become involved with a program called â€œBest Buddiesâ€ which has connected them to the rest of the school community in a way that they previously had not been.
They are developing a series of presentations for some of their local elementary schools, which I think is fantastic. However, I feel strongly that this is a really remarkable group of students that really have something of value to share with a much larger audience. There are many students their age, whether or not they share the same challenges, that may want to contribute to their community in some way, but do not know how or where to start. Perhaps no one ever even told them that they could. Towards that end I asked them if they would be interested in working with me to figure out a way they could show other students the projects they have been working on, and they were thrilled with the idea. I am not sure what form this will take, but one possibility is some sort of documentary. I will be looking into the possibility of connecting them with a local filmmaker / student.
In any event, I feel really fortunate to have met them .
1. Nothing in the world
is as soft and yielding as water.
Yet for dissolving the hard and inflexible,
nothing can surpass it. (Mitchell v. 78)
Mitchell, Stephan. Tao Te Ching. 1st ed. New York: Harper Perennial, 1988.
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