Each of the 24 students politely removed their shoes before they came into the classroom for their special guest lecture and discussion. Perched on my stool at the front of the room, I was a little apprehensive. After all, I had never given a university lecture before! At first the students fidgeted and giggled and played with their phones. A few professors slipped in at the back to check out the novelty of an American lecturing in Thai. But within a few minutes, the classroom settled and the students were fully engaged.
I spoke with art education students about understanding the scope of our influence and using it for the positive upbuilding of society. We talked about teaching art for inner wellbeing, and making it accessible and expressive, rather than insisting on rigidly-defined expectations of realism. Since I am aware that adverse childhood experiences are common and often go unrecognized in Thailand, I outlined the progression of the traumatic stress response to create awareness about what these symptoms might look like in their future classroom students and suggested ways that they as art teachers could help their students build resilience and coping skills. Finally, I challenged them to consider ways that they could use their own artistic expression for socially constructive purposes. “You have real influence in the world. Use it deliberately!”
When the hour was up, we relocated to an art studio and I offered a 2½ hour practicum, demonstrating an art journaling technique, and allowing the students to try it themselves. It was delightful to see them explore this new form of expression. One student selected a rubber stamp of a woman’s face and created a piece to express her concerns about domestic violence. Another student did a piece depicting two hands tearing up a “rulebook” and making the way for the light of expressive freedom to shine in. A third student told me that she had never made a piece of art before without carefully preplanning the outcome. She said that this process of progressive discovery was wonderfully freeing!
It was an honor to be invited to spend a day with the first-year art education students at Chiang Mai Rajabhat University. And it was thrilling to be caught up in a wave of the Holy Spirit’s movement, opening doors of opportunity and expanding the sphere of influence for the art ministry God has entrusted to me.
Thank you for your partnership through your prayers, financial support and friendship, that enable me to continue serving the Lord.