Please read the message below. It’s a letter from one of the students in UWC-USA (United World College) who attended Lily Yeh’s Awakening Creativity workshop last year who has been inspired to use the Barefoot Artists’ methodology in China. The summer camp took place in Yinchuan, Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region. Hui is the Chinese name for Muslims.
We are excited that the Barefoot Artists’ methodology can be easily adopted and adapted.
My name is Otto Zhen, and I am currently a freshman at Stanford University. Last year, at the Annual Conference at UWC-USA, I attended your workshop entitled Community Development through Art. I was very moved by the power of art and how it brought a collage of values from different people to life. However, at the time, I did not realize how I would later use what I learned at the workshop to teach others.
Six months later, I volunteered at a youth camp in China sponsored by UWC-USA. It was a camp dedicated to teaching various themes that are close to the UWC mission statement; such themes included sustainability, cultural awareness, and community building. One night, while the group was preparing for the next day’s activities, we realized that we were short on an activity for the following day. I suggested your art activity that I partook in during that Annual Conference.
And…it was amazing. I followed your format quite closely and asked for the students to think of values or ideas that were important to them. Then I asked them to discuss the values and find similarities before honing in on a single value. Then I went into the instructions for creating a single piece of artwork on one large piece of paper that embodied everyone’s values. Seeing these kids who were a bit shy with each other and uncomfortable with speaking English at first, and then seeing them actively engage and work together during this activity—it was a beautiful moment of teamwork, creativity, and collective understanding.
And like your workshop, we reflected on the pieces after each group presented their artwork, and we discussed the similarities, differences, and interesting observations. These pieces of artwork were so beautiful and indicative of the camper’s teamwork that we decided to hang them up during the final ceremony on the last day, the day that the camper’s parents actually came in to see what their child had learned.
I wanted to extend a huge expression of gratitude towards you for introducing such a creative and impactful activity to me during Annual Conference this time last year. I am very honored to have had this opportunity.