Hi from Sarah

    My name is Sarah, and I come from Ireland. I am here in Chiang Mai with Cultural Canvas Thailand and Art Relief International to do voluntary work. In the next ten weeks I will participate in and teach art workshops for various local partner organisations.

    I hail from the Emerald Isle, and so naturally have the travelling gene that is so prevalent in the Irish. Travel, culture, people and new experiences are all interests of mine, and so deciding to pack up to a foreign country was not so much a leap, but rather a stepping stone.

   I am nineteen years old and currently on a gap year. My plan was simple: work, save, travel. Yet there was a slight hiccup in my plan. Travel? Where? With who? For a while I had been so caught up in the romance of an adventure that I had not really thought about these things. And that is when I started to consider doing voluntary work. Soon after I found EIL Ireland, a non profit organisation in partnership with CCT and ARI, and the more I read about them, their polices, procedures and aim, the more interested and passionate I began to feel.

  In particular, it was CCT'S art relief program that signed the deal for me. Its focus on using art, whether visual or other, to bring relief and light into peoples lives really captivated me. I have never seen another program like it. Although I have no degree nor tertiary level education in art, from my own experience in school, I can say that art can offer more than just a pretty picture, it can be a place of refuge, creativity and expression. And something that ARI will often say, its accessible to all.

And so that brings me up to now. When I first contemplated about travel, two years back, it was as a tourist. But now I hope to be doing something a little more worthwhile, and just as exciting.


Making Recycled Plastic Creatures with the Kids Ark Foundation

Recentemento falamos aqui no blog sobre a falta de conhecimento das pessoas em reutilizar garrafas plasticas, e contamos sobre um workshop que fizemos reciclando uma parte da garrafa. mas nao sao so as garrafas plasticas que podem ser reutilizadas, com um pouco de imaginacao e vontade de contribuir com o meio ambiente, nos podemos reutilizar qualquer coisa.

Um exemplo eh o que  vamos contar hoje, um workhop que fizemos reutilizando tampas e copos plasticos, aqueles que tem nos cafes, e ate garfos plasticos.
Uma forma bem divertida e simples de reutiliza-los  eh usando a imaginacao para fazer animais, cupcakes, etc. E para finalizar nada melhor que colocar uma cor com tinta.
Todos colocaram suas criacoes juntas e se divertiram ao ver o resultado de cada amigo.
Quando a tinta estivesse seca os participantes poderiam brincar ou usar como enfeite para um comodo. 

Recently we wrote about recycle plastic bottle and that most people don't know how to do it, and we also talk about a workshop we did recycling a part of the plastic bottle. But more plastic things can be recycle with imagination, creativity and care about environment. One example is what we're writing about today, a workshop we did by recycling plastic covers and cups, those that are used for coffee, and also plastic cutlery. 

We encouraged the students at Kids Ark Foundation to choose a funny and simple way to recycle. They just had to use their imagination to make animals, cupcakes, etc. And we provided them many colors of paint to use, brushes, scissors and glue. 

When they finished we put all creations together, this way everyone could see what each other made. As soon as the creations were dry the particpants could play or use to decorate the class. We had a lot of fun with the students during the afternoon and were happy that we had so many participants come during their summer break to make art with us. Some truly creative students who made some really awesome creatures! 



Hello from Maggie

Sa-was-dee Kah!

My name is Maggie Hubacher. I am a new volunteer with Art Relief International. I am from the United States, (specifically North Carolina) and this trip is my first sojourn outside of North America.
I am passionate about art, social justice, being outdoors as much as possible, and petting a lot of cats. (I've already befriended one of the neighborhood cats here and plan to bring her home with me. Thai customs will be cool with that right?)

I am about to enter my final year of undergraduate study at the University of South Carolina, where I am working towards a Bachelor of Art and Art Education. At school I work as a Marketing and Graphic Design intern for the Student Success Center on campus, I participate in social justice education programs and peer leadership, and am involved in a service sorority, where I attempt to insert as many art themed service projects as I can into our schedule. I plan to pursue a master's degree in education and continue doing what I love- connecting with people through art.

My interest in using art to combat social issues and promote connection began in high school. For three years I worked with an organization in Charlotte, NC called Playing for Others that set out to connect local teenagers to children with disabilities through art, music, dance, and poetry. When working with non-verbal children, I was always blown away by their ability to communicate abstract ideas and emotional concepts through non-verbal media. The connective nature of art still amazes me, and I continue to seek out opportunities to collaborate and connect with other people through the arts. That urge is essentially what lead me to Chiang Mai, and Art Relief International. I have fallen in love with Chiang Mai and the people I've met through this organization, and I wish I could stay longer than three weeks! But I can't wait to work and lead workshops, eat a lot of Thai food, and experience more of this amazing city.

Musical Elements and Self-Discovery at Hope Home


    Music is a magical, mysterious phenomenon that affects our brains and hearts on innumerable levels of loveliness - quite like the children of Hope Home, a foster home for disabled children here in Chiang Mai.
    For the past month and a half, we have delved deeply into the children’s insatiable affinity for rhythm making. This multi-workshop development process began simply. Harnessing the kids’ percussive tendencies began with banging on chairs with chopsticks and following along with innumerable drumming videos and percussive-heavy music from around the world. Personalizing and decorating our very own cardboard cylinder/stretched balloon drums was our next step; ensuring that tambourines, bells, and large, flat cookie tins were utilized for musicians of all physical capabilities was a very important component. 


 Then came the concert, a workshop entirely devoted to “performing” and playing our instruments. You might call it a sing-a-long, but a better description may be a drum/clap/stamp/shake/twirl/bang/smile-a-long. Visiting ARI that day was a professional jazz guitarist honored with a guest spot in the Hope Home band, we were very grateful to have so much talent guiding and providing a backbone for the budding rockstars. Thank you, Mike!  


 It’s not easy being a musician. Learning an instrument is a particularly grueling process insistent on bringing you face to face with your own limits, over and over and over again. Some weird willpower stuff happens and those limits are rendered obsolete – only to be relocated a little farther down your path to becoming the next Jimi Hendrix. You never stop learning. Personal growth and increased self-awareness are inevitable side effects of developing a new skill. If you have been keeping up with our blog, you know that increasing each child’s self-awareness has emerged as a primary goal in our work with Hope Home. How convenient! With that in mind, the next stop along our workshop journey was capitalizing on our self-identity. With colors almost as bright as the Hope Home kids, we decorated paper dolls (and trucks) to represent ourselves.  

Not every child maintains the range of motion required to use crayons. The 2D art project realm is excellent; however, identity exploration can certainly be facilitated through alternative mediums. For Dontri, we combined light stimuli, a Dontri-specific drumkit, and a playlist of layered, complex rhythms. His limited vision seems to elevate his sense of hearing. Thus, incorporating Dontri’s willingness to participate in rhythm making/drumming into his heightened  music listening experience induces the “Dontri Wiggle” – the happiest dance you will ever see. 
When the music is synchronized with the light stimuli contraption, Dontri wiggles right into the driver’s seat of a comprehensive sensory whirlwind.   

       ....Similarly, Yindee’s fascination with watching drumming videos naturally paired with her enthusiastic tambourine playing and bell shaking. Encompassed by her love of being held and danced with, sense of touch emerges as the most poignant framework for recognizing, embracing, and encouraging Yindee’s equally poignant cognitive presence. 
    Since the dawn of civilization, music has been an indicative element of culture. What an incredible tool for learning and teaching understanding and appreciating we humans have. Keep an eye out for the Hope Home band’s tour dates! I hear they’re playing Coachella next year.

- Cat


Hello from Aisling!

Hi there! My name is Aisling Henihan, and I’ll be volunteering with ARI here in Chiang Mai for the next two months. I’m a rising sophomore at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where I study art history, sociocultural anthropology, and geography of human activity. My concentration is contemporary art, and I’m particularly interested in public art, collaborative and collective art initiatives, and creative placemaking. My current research examines the role of art in community building and conflict resolution in peace wall communities in Northern Ireland, with the hopes of better understanding how art can bridge ethnonational divides and provide healing. I see art as a tool for creating meaningful and sustainable social change, and to this end, I’ve worked with a few local non-profit arts organizations in North Carolina who are dedicated to issues of arts accessibility.

I was looking for a volunteer opportunity with a non-profit arts organization for the summer, and I found ARI through two friends at UNC who had previously participated in the program. I wanted to work in a more hands-on arts outreach context, so ARI’s opportunity to actually design and implement arts workshops in a variety of target populations really appealed to me. I’m interested in art therapy, and I saw this as an opportunity to get informal experience in this area. ARI does incredible work in Chiang Mai, and in my short time here so far, I’ve been really impressed by the degree of community integration the organization possesses. I was very drawn to their model of community partnership, and I think ARI’s work is impactful precisely because it actually seeks to address actual community needs. I’m hopeful that my time with ARI will help me decide if I’m interested in pursuing art therapy or art education further, and I look forward to making and sharing art with this organization in the coming weeks! I’ve already fallen in love with Chiang Mai, and I’m excited to learn more about Thai culture, customs, and language while helping ARI’s work in this wonderful city.

Hello from Annie!!

Greetings, readers!! I’m Annie Kiyonaga, a 19 year old college student from Washington, DC. I currently attend University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, where I’m studying English and Art History. My love for all things art history, and, subsequently, for the power of creative expression, was what initially drew me to ARI. 

At school, I teach art history to local middle schoolers, and I have been consistently struck by the positive impact that art education and experimentation seem to have on the students. I watched students express, through creative visual representation, tenets of themselves that they couldn’t even fully give voice to. This dimension of art – its power to communicate visceral and personal truths to audiences of all origins and lifestyles – was cemented for me in my teaching experience. As a result, my belief in the healing power of art was strengthened and confirmed. 

Given this experience, I was really enthusiastic about the possibility of reaching a completely new and different audience through art. ARI seemed, to me, to be the perfect confluence of my interests in art, travel, cultural immersion and volunteer work. I love art, and I love the potential for societal good that exists within art. I heard about ARI from two other UNC students who had previously worked with the program, and knew immediately that the program’s message and mission spoke powerfully to me. I’m so excited to explore the both endless possibilities of artistic expression and the uniquely beautiful Thai culture with ARI!!