The workshop we all were gratefully a part of last weekend taught me a lot about how to approach peace building. A couple of pillars/ideas that have been stuck in my head are community building and exploration of approaches. Creative peace building has been popularized through art therapy. Art is an expression of feelings and emotions. What art therapy does is give people or a community a way to express their feelings, especially after or during a time of crisis and conflict.
Barefoot Artists is an organization that promotes peace through art. www.barefootartists.org
The organization gives struggling communities access and resources to create art, and every community would have its own distinctive expression. This empowers the people through their own indigenous art and culture. The form of art is usually visual art (drawings, paintings, building, etc.). It allows people to find peace within themselves by expressing their emotions through a visual form. By doing it, people in the community are forced to work together and form a stronger relationship with each other. The organization has transformed a conflicted and struggling community to a stronger, more expressive, and more peaceful one.
One of the things that they have done is transform a mass grave of slain people in Rwanda into an artistic memorial, which the people in the community have highly appreciated. Lily Yeh organized and trained the village people before together they built and crafted this memorial. http://barefootartists.org/projects/the-rwanda-healing-project/genocide-memorial-park/
I think this resource can be used in various places. Though this organization mostly focuses on international extreme conflict communities, it can be incorporated in a basic classroom or a community in a developed country that may have been hit by a tragedy. A lot of times, kids cannot express their sad feelings through words, and art is a great device to do so. A community such as Newtown, which has been struck by a tremendous tragedy, could be an ideal place to implement this resource.
I would recommend art therapy to elementary school, middle school, high school, and a larger community.
For an educator to implement this resource, he or she must acquire art resources (knowledge, people, and tools). Some art experience or skills are required for this to work. As an educational leader promoting art as an expression, he or she needs to be able express his or her own feelings visually. A leadership skill is highly essential to the success of this method. Moving a large group of people that have been struggling from a conflict or a tragedy is not an easy task. This requires a great communication skill. One needs to be able to speak through people’s hearts and somewhat understand their pain.
Multiple intelligence is the applicative pedagogy in this resource, because it requires one to be a proficient and talented educator to be able to execute this.
For people who have been struggling as a community or a group from a never-ending conflict, traumatizing tragedy, and fear of the future, this is a resource that could open your eyes. One simple thing can really make a difference. We never want our communities to be haunted by horrific history; we do not want our kids to grow up only remembering a tragedy and be afraid every day. Art allows us to stand up and express that we want peace in our lives.