Posting by Tamara Weiner
Quite a bit has happened since we began our internship at a High School in Chennai earlier this week. We set out with the lofty goal of utilizing art therapy techniques to help the students create a mural on one of the school’s most prominent walls and although we lacked any specific method or plan, naively thought that the project would pan out relatively easily. However, we were initially confronted with what seemed like every possible obstacle: an absentee supervisor, teachers who spoke English, but not Tamil, others who spoke Tamil, but not English, 105 degree heat, makeshift supplies, and possibly the worst of all, a culture that values “staying in the lines” over artistic expression. I began to get discouraged. I worried that we’d bitten off more than we could chew and that we were going to leave the School and India with little more than a primed wall and the best of intentions.
As the week progressed, things began to come together. We interns got clearer in our goals and how to implement them; using a combination of sign language and interpretive dance, we fumbled our way through the language barrier; we made art supplies out of twigs, old water bottles and baby wipes; we drank more water than we ever had in our lives and best of all, we introduced the concept of art for art’s sake and celebrated the outcome alongside kids who had never before held a paintbrush, but who couldn’t wait to add their personal touches to the piece. And against all odds, the mural project is complete, it looks fantastic and I am so very proud to have been a part of it.