Can Art change life? Part 3 & 4

Ma Thandar Aung
Studio Xang had a talk with Ma Thandar Aung, who has joined the art class since May 2007, about her view on the progress while participating in the art class.

Xang:       Please tell me how old you are and which grade you are in.
Thandar:  I am fifteen years old. I am studying in Grade 8.  

X:      You have been studying with Studio Xang for long, do you remember any activities  
          you learnt?
Th:      I learnt a lot such as making houses with recycled milk bottles, making a zoo in clay, doing outdoor drawing, making stamps with erasers, making stamps with cardboard and string, printing stamp with vegetables and fruits, creating three dimensional objects with wire, drawing, and making handicraft. 

X:       Among these, which activity do you like most?
Th:     I like creating toys with wire string. I like it because I have to make my brain work. The creative process is not easy to remember so I have to pay attention to details to be able to make it again. I like using my brain because it improves my memory. I think this activity has more learning benefits because I learnt a handicraft skill and I improved my cognitive memory at the same time.

X:      In the art class, did you encounter any difficulties that you could not solve or do you think that there were any activity that were not useful for you? 
Th:     No, I can follow all the art activities well. If I have difficulties, teachers help me. The activities are always new. So as soon as I arrive to class, I am so keen to know what I will be learning in the class. Though I picked up my favorite activities because you asked, there is no activity which I do not like. 

X:       How fell about teamwork?
Th:     I work together as usual when the activities are the group work. I am aware that some activities can be done by myself but some need team collaboration in order to complete the work. When working in a team, we all become close; we can do better artwork and work faster than when we work alone.

X:      In the class, there are different people with different religion, ethnicity and skin color, sometimes  you meet with other students who you did not know and work together. What do you think of this?
Th:     It is good to meet people with different thinking. We will know and have a chance to learn how they think and how they do things. For example, if we do not agree on something, if they tell us what is prohibited or allowed in their culture or religion, we will know. If we pick the good points and follow, we will be good. It is also good to know about other cultures as well as ours. 

X:       Can you use any activities you learnt from Studio Xang in your real life?
Th:     Yes, I gained confidence to participate in drawing competitions from various schools. It is an inspiration for me knowing that I can do the handicraft activities as well as school lessons. It encourages me. I become more understanding of others in my social relations. I can control my mind when I get angry; I think of it first and try to understand and relax.

X:       What do you do in your spare time?
Th:     I join the art class in the summer school holiday. 

X:       What do you want to be in future?
Th:     I want to be a nurse who will take care of sick, helpless patients. 

Studio Xang had a talk with Mg Naing Lin Htet, who has joined the art class since May 2007, about his view on the progress while participating in the art class.

Mg Naing Lin Htet

Xang:   Please tell me how old you are and which grade you are in.

Naing:  I am seventeen years old. I am studying at eight grade.

X:       As you have been studying here for long, can you tell me which activities you like? Why?

N:      I like painting and drawing on canvas. It is the activity which starts with priming the canvas first and when it is dry, use paintbrushes and oil paint to draw. The oil color is mixed with Linseed oil. It is interesting for me because it is different from previous painting technique. In the past, we just used the paper to draw and all the materials were prepared by the teachers. We just draw. But in this activity, we have to prepare it from the beginning, then sketch and paint. We have to know how to mix oil paint while drawing. This activity is a more advanced level and I liked it.

X:       How did you feel about team activities?

N:      Teamwork is sometimes so frustrating. We have different ideas and they are not the same, therefore, we have to discuss and it takes time. If we do not work together, the end result is not successful. It is better to get the good result after group discussion so that we are working together. For me, I do as best as I can. Not only on my part, but I help the others too. I give a hand to others because I am older than others. This is good for me as I can lead others. But I prefer doing activities by myself.

X:       As you prefer working alone, which activity do you enjoy?

N:      I like the new creative activity which can be useful later on, like handicrafts. If the activity is too easy, it gets boring.

X:      What do you think about different people and culture? Do you think you should learn about them?

N:     I think we must. Now we are in Thailand. As we are staying in Thailand, we must know about Thai culture, language and rules. So that we will know what is happening in our surrounding and see what we should do. Besides, we should learn good things from them so that we would develop more ourselves.

X:       Can you apply the activity you learnt from the training? Do you think it is helpful?

N:     Yes. The activities such as teamwork and handicraft are helpful. We gain knowledge.

X:        What do you think about the teachers and their teaching methods?

N:      Good, they are patient. They choose the activity which all of our age group can do.

X:        What do you want to be in future?

N:        I want to be a mechanic and electrical engineer.

Naing Lin Htet’s father is U Chit Naing and he died of cancer last May. He is the eldest son in three children. Together with him, his brother is in grade seven at Hsar Mu Htaw school. But another brother is still inside Burma. His mother is not well and lives in Burma. After his father’s death, Naing Lin Htet continues his study while staying at Hsar Mu Htaw boarding house.

Can Art change life?- Part 2

Studio Xang talked with Ma Mar Mar Aye, who joined the art class in April 2008, about her view on the art classes. Most migrant children who attend school in Maesot go to Migrant children schools. These schools are run by the migrant community from Burma and are not yet recognized by the Thai authorities as learning centers. However Ma Ma Aye attends a Thai government school.
Mar Mar Aye and her sister playing with their Dad

SX:       How old are you?
Mar Mar Aie (M):     I am nine years old. 

SX:      Which grade are you in?
M:        I am studying in grade two at a Thai primary school. 

SX:       Can you remember when you started coming to the Studio Xang art class?
M:        Since I was young, around five years old, I think. 

SX:       Do you remember any activity from the class?
M:        A lot. Making doll with clay, making bicycle with wire, making flowers with color paper, embroidery, cooking snacks, making flowers with fabrics, painting and drawing many pictures. 

SX:        Among these, what did you like most?
M:        Making flower with colorful hosiery material, outdoor observation drawing and Mont Bee taunt (a Burmese snack made with sticky rice)

SX:       Why did you like those most?
M:        The colorful flowers are a good memory.

SX:        Why?
M:        I taught that activity at my school, that’s why I always remember it. In my school, we have to do handicraft things every week. On that day, the teacher showed me the materials she bought, and then ask me, what can we do with those? When I looked at, I saw the pieces of colored hosiery, the tape and wire sticks. So I told my teacher that we can make flowers with these things. Then teacher asked me: “can you do that? Can you teach all of us?” I said yes. I taught all the other students how to do it. Then, they all can do it well. Therefore, I felt very happy and satisfied and always remember that day’s activity. 

SX:       When you taught that activity to your friends at school, how do you feel?
M:        At first, even though I told the teacher that I can do and taught others, I was little nervous because I did not practice it at home since the first time I made it at Studio Xang art class. I was not sure that I could do it. Besides, the teacher was there and I felt more nervous. The first flower  I demonstrated was not so pretty. Then I tried the second one and it was very beautiful. The first one was like catching up with the lesson. After that, all went well and my nervousness went away. My friends and teacher praised me that I am a clever girl. And I also gained confidence in my work. 

SX:        What about outdoor drawing and Mon Bein Taunt?
M:        I like outdoor drawing because I can see a variety of sceneries, light and dark tones, the colors (green leaf or light green leaf, pink apple or green apple, etc.). Moreover, we can see the reality of  things, and breathe the fresh air. Then we can see each other’s drawing and feel the difference in the artworks. I like seeing many pictures made by my friends. I like Mont Be Taunt because it is Burmese traditional snack, which is easy to make and very tasty. 

X:        In this art class, how do you participate in the team work?
M:       I enjoy team work. We help each other so that other in the team get what they want and I get what I want. But we have to discuss about what we do and how to do it. Everyone in the group tries their best, for the finished project to be a beautiful one. I want to see all the group members happy and I like being a leader. 

SX:     Do you feel any difference between your current time at art class and before you joined the art training?
M:        I think I gained more knowledge as well as craft skills. I now think carefully about what I want to do first and then do it. 

SX:       How did you feel at first you joined the art class?
M:        At first, I was scared because I knew nobody and did not know the teachers yet. 

SX:        How about right now? Do you feel the same way as before?
M:        No. I have many friends at the class. I know the teachers and I enjoyed learning here. I have gained more knowledge. 

SX:        Do you think you can apply knowledge you learnt from the art class?
M:        Some activities can be used in the real life but not all. Some can be used as gift, some to decorate home. Some painting can be exhibited. And I shared the activities learnt from the class at my school. That is useful. I can do it. When I play with my friend and get angry, most of the time, my anger does not last long. I think that the reason I got angry is just because they don’t know something. Even though I got angry, I can forgive them. 

SX:       Do you think you should also learn other people’s culture?
M:        Yes, I think so. If we know about other cultures and the good things about them, we must learn from it. If we just know about our culture and do not know others, we will be just a dumb person. So that is not good. 

SX:       What is your ambition?
M:        I want to be an artist. 

SX:       Why do you want to be an artist?
M:        I like drawing. And it is not like the school lesson and does not need to memorize a lot. We can be creative. Through practice, we remember the technique. It is not difficult. I am interested in it. Therefore, I want to be an artist. 

SX:        In the art class, is there any activity that you can not follow/ that you feel is difficult?
M:        Yes, making the bicycle with twisted wire. I can not do it even though I tried. I finished only one but it is not pretty. But when I got home, I did it again and I got three bicycles. Now I can do it. If I can not do well in the class, I try again at home so that I feel satisfied. If I try, I can do more. 

SX:       What do you think of the teachers and their teaching?
M:        All are good, they care about us and teach us details. 

SX:        In your holiday, do you do art related activities?
M:      When I was younger, I attended the summer art class, but not now. My parents send me to the computer class. 

SX:        Thank you for your time!
M:          I also thank you for coming and talking with me.
Mar Mar Aye and her family
Talk with Mar Mar Aye’s parents
SX:        May I know your name?
Mum:     I am Ma Toe and her father is Aki. 

SX:        How many siblings does Mar Mar Aye have?
Mum:     She has one younger sister. 

SX:        How about Mar Mar Aye’s current educational situation?
Mum:    My daughter studies at a Thai school. She is good in her studies. In the previous year, she got in the fourth place. This year, she got first prize at an essay competition for Mother Day and No Smoking Day, second prize at the drawing contest and first prize at the calligraphy contest.  She gets the prize for calligraphy every year. She participated in the essay competition just this year. 

SX:        Mar Aye is a clever girl, is she smart since she was young?
Mum:    She does not need pressure from outside to study. She does it by herself. We did not expect that our daughter will be a smart girl who earns prizes at school. We are very happy that she is an outstanding student.  

SX:       You see that she excels at her study. Do you also see any changes of Mar Aye after she joined the art class?
Mum:   Yes, but not at the begining. After six or seven months, she was not afraid of anyone or anything anymore. Since the last two years, her thinking has changed and her ideas are good. Her relationships with others have improved. She can choose colors that match to her drawing. 

SX:        Do you think that she can practically apply the activities she learnt from the art class?
Mum:   She can because she has to teach at her school. And she received good marks in art at school. As she already knows how to do these things, she is confident. 

SX:        Could you please tell us about Mar Aye’s personality and behavior?
Mum:   She is a quiet girl. She does what she wants to do, but she is determined. She does not talk much, it seems like she is afraid of people, but she has the mind of a leader. She is a respectful girl to her parents too.

SX:        We thank you for your time!
Mum:   Thank you for coming and meeting with us, also we thank you for your generosity to teach our children.

Raising money for Sunrise School....

by selling cakes, selling raffle tickets and Christmas badges.

Our Year 8 students made cakes and sold them at break time to raise money, as well as selling Christmas badges and our lovely Jane made a fab Christmas cake which is being raffled off as well.

So far we have raised over £90.00 and there's still money coming in!

Thanks to everybody.

This was the raffled cake and it's been won by Corrina Bowden an Year 8 - lucky girl!

And here is our Christmas card winner - Ashley Bromley Year 8. Very well done to Ashley.

How NGSO students at Yaung Ni Oo School used the donation provide this year, 2011

NGSO committee meeting
This past year, the New Generation Students’ Organisation of Yaung Ni Oo School in Mae La Oon refugee camp has received support from Sundorne School, UK and Mrs Diane Olston, Australia.
We met with NGSO students and they explained how they organized their fundraising event at Christmas (2010), how they used the money that was donated, and their plans for rest of the year’s activities.

Firstly, NGSO organized a students’ party and sports fair with football, badminton, volleyball and Tauk Si Doe (Burmese traditional game). They gave prizes for the 1st and 2nd winners. They sold Mohinga noodle soup, fried noodles, fried gourd, Rakhaing traditional noodle, fried Shan tofu and noodle salad, and they and arranged some games for fundraising. They also showed video, and ask for a small fees.
They prepared a dinner party for Yaung Ni Oo’s teachers. The money that was raised during the event was donated to elderly people in the camp. They created a small fund for students who need to be sent to hospital in emergency.   They also buy some materials for school from their fund.

They bought 29 inch-TV and produced “Aye Chan thaw Kaung Kin” newsletter. The newsletter is published in two languages: Karen and Burmese. They will publish 50 newsletters and it will cost 10000 baht. In this newsletter, they wrote poems, stories, cartoons and article about their experiences and their feelings about their lives. They can express their feelings by words. Producing this newsletter is an opportunity to practice their writing skill. Everyone can know about their lives by reading this newsletter. They gave the left-over money to NGSO’s cashier to keep for activities later in the year.

Students said they wanted to do Christmas party and funs fair every year, like the one they did last year, thanks to Sundorne’s donation. They wanted to organize speech practice for Yaung Ni Oo’s students to promote intellectual skills and self-confidence once a year. They also wanted to do sport fair twice a year to keep students healthy. They wanted to publish “Aye Chan Tat Kaung Kin” newsletter every year to improve their writing skill and to let everyone know about their lives and their feelings. They wanted to hold an easy writing competition in Burmese for YNO’s secondary students twice a year.

Students thanked Sundorne school and Mrs Olston who donated money and books to them and very much appreciated that people had preferred to support them, YNO students, rather than use the money for their own needs. Students admired benefactor’s wish to help other people. They wanted to give them “Aye Chan Tat Kaung Kin” newsletter as a present but it is only written in Burmese and Karen.
Salawin river viewed from the road to Mae La Oon refugee camp. Burma is on the left hand side river bank.

Our Burmese students.... a piece of art work based on the idea of visiting Shrewsbury ( go back a few posts and you'll see examples of this), they needed more photos to work from so I lent some of our Sundorne students camera's to see images what they would come up! I hope they are of some use and spark up some ideas but I think still more are needed.

Can art change life?

Studio Xang Maesot interviewed recently 5 migrant students who attend our art classes in the town of Maesot.

Studio Xang wanted to know how art affected children’s life, from children's point of view. We spoke to children and their families and requested their permission to share their story and opinions publicly, together with photographs. 

In Burmese, children’s names start with either Maung, meaning little brother, or Ma, meaning little sister. Parents name will be prefixed with Daw (Mrs) or U (Mr.).

The following is a discussion with Maung Thet Phyo Win who started attending Studio Xang art classes in September  2006. Thet Phyo Win is now a volunteer teacher at Studio Xang Maesot.

Thet Phoy Win at home doing his home work
SX       : Could you tell me your name, age and which grade you are in at school?
Phyo    : My name is Thet Phyo Win, I am 16 years old and I am studying in grade 6.

SX       : When did you start to attend art class in Studio Xang?
Phyo    :  in September  2006.

SX       : So you’ve attended art class since Studio Xang Maesot was established, haven’t you?
Phyo    : Yes, I have.

SX       : How did you feel when you started to come to art class?
Phyo    : I was very excited because I would be drawing pictures. I thought about what I would draw in class. Would it be difficult or easy? After the first class, the days when I go to art classes became happy and free days for me. Because I did many different activities, went on the truck, played with friends, ate snacks and I also made new friends in art class.

SX       : What did you learn form art class?
Phyo    : Many things such as drawing, painting, doing sculpture with clay, making handicrafts, making activities in groups and creating things using recycled materials.

SX       : Could you tell me which activity you like most and why?
Phyo    : Hmm, I liked them all. But I want to tell you about one activity that I liked most. It is a 3 dimensional bouquet made with wire and coloured hosiery material.  You need a lot of patience to shape the soft wire into petal shapes and then stretch over the hosiery material. It’s about patience, concentration and hand control.  When all petals are finished, you tie them all together with tape to a get a beautiful bouquet. While I was doing this activity, I thought about our environment and myself. To get a beautiful bouquet, we have to do it together. Each of person around us are like petals.  In the same way we have to concentrate to control our hands while creating the bouquet, as people we can be united in mind, through patience and concentration. If we work all together, our combined efforts will achieve something as successfully as that bouquet. That’s why I remember that activity and I like it the most. When I was doing this activity, I was really into it.

SX       : Do you feel something different in yourself after coming to the art class compared to before you started?
Phyo    : Before I came to art class, I was often angry with my friends. Now I thinking and reflect on what happened with my friends when I feel angry. I think I am more compassionate and patient than before. I also think I can communicate with other people better. When then volunteer team has something to do, I try to go with them. I think what has changed is my knowledge and abilities. Now I can do many kind of creative activities, and I also understand what activity is useful for whom and where. I can design activities and plan how I will teach children. I feel I am more self-confident.

SX       : Do you learn about art in your free time?
Phyo    : Yes, I attend art class in summer holiday at school. I usually attend art classes if I have any free time. 

SX       : Why do you attend art classes?
Phyo    : Because I like painting and drawing. I also like to see other’s pictures and their techniques. There are many kind of painting. So I want to learn all of them.

SX       : What do you want to be in your future?
Phyo    : I want to be a man who can speak and write many languages. And I also want to travel and discover around the world.

SX       : How come?
Phyo    : If I can read, write and speak many languages, I can learn other people’s cultures, habits, knowledge and what they do. If I can travel around the world, I can see by myself. When I know both how we do things and how other people do things, I will take the good points from them and share this knowledge with our community, and teach people to develop themselves. I want be a person who improves our society.

SX       : What do you think about Studio Xang’s teachers?
Phyo    : All of Studio Xang’s teachers are patient, good at teaching and good in dealing with children. They also understand each other. I think everything is fine.

SX       : Is there any activity that you find too difficult?
Phyo    : No. Before doing an art activity, the teachers demonstrate how to do it. While doing the activity, if we have some difficulties, they help us. So as for me there is nothing I can’t manage.

SX       : Do you like working in groups and how do you communicate with them?
Phyo    : In group, we share the tasks. If someone does something, I do another thing. If someone needs help, I help him/her. If someone asks me to do something, I am not angry and I try to do my best because we wants our project to work out the best. I like group activities. While we working, if we have some problems, someone else in group knows the way or has an idea how to solve the problem. Group activities make us feel closer to each other. That’s why I like them.

SX       : Could you use what you learned during art class in your everyday life?
Phyo    : I think what I learn is useful for me. Because I’m used to team work activities, it is easier now for me to communicate with people around me. I have new knowledge and skills from doing handicrafts, painting and making sculptures. No one can steal the skills and knowledge we have learnt. It remains within us. If I have chances to learn more about arts in the future, it will be easy to learn. I can also share my skills and knowledge with others who are interested in arts. 

SX       : How about your education? Do you mange at school?
Phyo    : Yes, now I am studying in Grade 6. Last school year, I won the second prize in Grade 5. At present, I am doing very well.

SX       : How about your artworks?
Phyo    : Last June  2011, I won the second prize in painting at “Save the environment day’s” competition. I won the third prize for Martyr’s Day competition held at the Best Friend Library. 

SX       : What do is most important for you in about Studio Xang?
Phyo    : Everything is important for me. Two things motivate me to join the art class. I think they are the most important things for me: freedom and interest.

SX       : Why do you say this?
Phyo    : Whenever I make something in art class, my artwork does not need to be exactly what our teacher said. We don’t need to compare with each other.  So I can do them freely according to my own ideas. I think it is a chance that I can express  my own ideas. There is no one who watches my artwork and say it is wrong and not beautiful. I could assess what I make myself and see how to improve it next time. The whole time when I am attending art class, the activities have always been different. So before I go to art class, I am very excited wondering what I will learn today. That’s why I am afraid to miss my art class. It is good for me. It makes me to recognize every step of the process that I chose and makes me eager to learn. So I could teach and share with others.

SX       : Did you benefit from attending the art classes?
Phyo    : I learnt different opinions, how to be self confident and coordinate with people and improve my imagination and creative thinking because at Studio Xang I get new information and learn many skills. When I show my artworks to my parents, they are pleased and impressed. When I saw the smile on their face and how pleased they are, it makes me happy. 

SX       : What do in the future?
Phyo    : I want to continue my education until the end of high school. I will attend art classes, computer classes and language classes if I have the chance. I will still work as a volunteer and help children develop themselves in art classes when I have free time.
Thet Phyo Win's home in Maesot

Discussion with Thet Phyo Win’s Mum, Daw Aye
SX                   : Excuse me, could you tell me your names?
P’s mother       : My name is Daw Aye and I’m 53. My husband’s name is U Kyaw Win and he is 64.

SX                   : How many siblings does Thet Phyo Win have?
 P’s mother      : I have 9 children, 6 boys and 3 girls. 5 of my children are already married. Thet Phyo Win is the seventh child of the family. He has one younger sister and one younger brother.

SX                   : Oh! Do all children stay together with you?
P’s mother       : No, I, my husband, Thet Phyo Win and Thet Phyo Win’s younger sister and brother stay together. The married daughters and sons stay outside with their family. One elder son stays at his work.

SX                   : Thet Phyo Win’s younger sister and brother still study at school, don’t they?
P’s mother       : yes, they do because one of my sons works at mushroom farm and sends money to me to pay for their school.

SX                   : What did you do before?
P’s mother       : My husband worked as a captain. Now, he is old and he can’t do anything. I have been a house wife until now. I take care of my children and do the housework.

SX                   : A Captain, that’s a very skilled job. Did any of your sons follow in his father’s steps?
P’s mother       : No. No one did. They all had to stop their education at elementary school. I think Thet Phyo Win will be brilliant because he win first to third prizes every grade. He isn’t lazy to study. He is also good at painting and crafts. My two younger children got prizes before. But this year they didn’t get any prize because they are lazy to study. I always encourage them to study. 

SX                   : Do you know Thet Phyo Win is a volunteer at Studio Xang?
P’s mother       : Yes, he told me that Studio Xang invited him to do become a volunteer. I know he goes to the art class regularly and he likes art. I told him to decide himself because old enough. I also think it will help him improve his future after school. 

SX                   : Oh it is interesting that you said it will help him improve his future. Could you tell me why you think like this?
P’s mother       : Whenever he comes back from art class, he takes his artwork and shows me. He also tells me how he did it. So I am very glad for him. I also think he is very good at communicating because he can explain his artwork very well. I can draw only. I think I am not able to talk about my pictures or how I learned. He also tells me how he learned to make them and how he got the ideas to create them. I am satisfied with this art class and I feel he’s been improving. Before, he was lazy to help about house even though he is not lazy to study his school lessons. Now, I don’t need to tell him to help me. He notices what needs done and does it by himself.

SX                   : What do you want him to be in future?
P’s mother       : Every parent wants their children to be educated. Now, we are getting old and we can’t earn our living. We worry about how he will finish his education. We don’t need to worry about for school fees (migrant school are free) but we worry about our living (eating and rent). We depend on one of my son’s salaries. Thet Phyo Win is clever and he is eager to study. We will try to manage until he finishes school. It is not our desire what he wants to be. It is his desire. Our duty is to fulfill his wish as much as we can.

SX                   : Don’t worry about him. We will support him as much as we can. Someone is waiting to help the person who really tries hard.
P’s mother       : I thank to Studio Xang for giving him the chance to be a volunteer and take care him. Because of Studio Xang, he helps at home on his own accord, he evaluates what is wrong and what is right and he learn many things and skills.
SX                   : Thank you for taking the time to talk to us.
Thet Phyo Win's family