Last week we had the amazing opportunity to assist with an art lock-in of sorts for the kids at Global Village School. Located in Decatur, GVS provides an enriched education to teenage girls whose formal education has been interrupted by war and refugee camp experiences. Approximately 35 teenage girls from all sorts of places, such as Afghanistan, Burma, Burundi, Central African Republic, Ethiopia, Iraq, Sudan, and Thailand (and thensome) raided WonderRoot for a day of recording music, sewing dolls, making sculptural books and collage, and learning about ceramics and photography. Suffice it to say, a blast was had all around.
WonderRoot Creative Reuse provided materials for what was billed as a sculptural book project. From what I could tell, it’s part origami, part collage, part bookmaking. All I know is, the room was smothered in paper and feathers, smelled of glue, and was silent practically all day from serious concentration of the makers.
I spent the better part of the day in the “Sewing Lab”–really WonderRoot’s computer lab any other day. We busted out our new-to-us sewing machines (didn’t take long), and assisted the students in making comfort dolls, which are small, simple, handmade plush tokens that are usually placed in women’s shelters to comfort and offer support to victimized women. Most of the students were pretty frightful of the sewing machines at first, but after a brief run-down and, let’s face it, the crashiest of crash courses, the girls took to them with no qualms. Really, if it were my first time on a sewing machine with that project, no way would I have handled it with the skill that they did. The little dolls came out quirky and adorable, and I think the girls walked away a bit more empowered.
Other activities the girls participated in were bow making, taking pictures, making simple bowls, and, the biggest hit of them all, recording. Singing and music play a key part in how the students at the Global Village School learn and develop their English skills, and some of the girls got to write and record songs for the day. Later on, the whole school piled into the recording studio to capture the school’s keysong for the first time ever. It was a big to-do. Tears were shed. Not kidding.
Artful expression plays a vital role in these girls’ education. Besides having to learn a new language, adjust to a new culture, process difficult experiences that happened in their home countries, and, at the end of the day, be a teenager, personal expression is key to building their confidence and allowing them to cope. Hopefully they walked away a bit more thrilled about all they can explore and accomplish through art, because, for us here at WonderRoot Creative Reuse, that’s what we’d like to share with the world. Til next time, happy reusing, y’all!