"I believe in the healing power of the arts, and when anyone can bring art into anyone's life, it's a special things." ~Austin Nichols
This post will be a little different from my previous topics. I wanted to share a personal experience this time! I am reminiscing this week as I write this post because around this time in 2018 I was in Nairobi engaged in a cross-cultural exchange with an African leadership team of artists. I am happy to have my blog now so that I can tell you about my participation in this amazing program! I always told myself this would definitely be a topic in my blog! My hopes in sharing this information is to bring more awareness to this agency and discuss the wonderful opportunities available helping others. I believe traveling enables us to not only learn about different cultures but also become well-rounded individuals. And when it comes to the healing arts, there is a wealth of information and amazing experiences to enrich our clinical skills and strengthen cultural competency when working with diverse populations. The result of my experience in Africa tremendously informed my work in the field of mental health and art therapy.
Global Alliance for Africa - Therapeutic Arts Program:
So now let me tell you how I ended up in Africa! I actually learned of the trip via my expressive arts program at Prescott College. I had received an email about the program and details about the trip. I felt it was meant to be and quickly started researching and preparing for the process. I had the honor of participating in what's called the Therapeutic Arts Program which is part of a non-profit agency called, Global Alliance for Africa (GAA). The program is focused on training and exchanging therapeutic arts skills between participants of GAA and African artists by sharing knowledge and skills utilizing the healing arts to help at-risk youth in Africa. The program describes this process as an expressive arts cross-cultural exchange. What I found to be most helpful during this program was the exposure and engagement in not only the visual arts but also poetry, story-telling, dance, and drama. I learned first-hand from African artists how they incorporated the arts into their work with youth.
The program lasted approximately 10 days, and each day was filled with a new experience through formal trainings, group activities, role-plays, skills share exchanges, and sight seeing. The therapeutic arts program is open to all artists, creative therapists (i.e. art therapist, expressive arts therapists, drama therapists, dance therapists, etc), and students in the field of creative arts and mental health who are interested! I participated during my last year at Prescott College while finishing up my post-graduate expressive arts therapy certification. There is an application process to be selected for the trip. And more recently there have been scholarship opportunities available to help fund a portion of the trip cost. The cost of the trip covers the flight, lodging, and funds African artists to also participate. During your time in Africa there are plenty of opportunities to collaborate with one another, share, and build a sense of community.
[Crossing Kitengala bridge made of recycled materials]
The experience of being in Kenya was personally invaluable. And I don't mean just clinically, I'm talking about the experiences building friendships, connections, and memories! As you can see above in the video, the sights were amazing... this was one of many trips we took sight seeing. In this video we are crossing a bridge made of recycled materials and wire. The bridge is used to access the Kitengala blown glass studios.
[Kitengala Hot Glass Studio]
Once inside Kitengala glass studio you are literally transported into another world. Its colorful, quirky, fun, and a one of a kind experience! In the video above I am exploring the grounds walking to various glass studios and shops which themselves are also pieces of art created from recycled materials. The items purchased here are very unique. You can purchase jewelry and various decorations created by glass and recycled materials. These are just a few photos and videos from the trip. I had a hard time choosing what to post!
I hope you enjoyed this post. I just wanted to share this great program with you and provide some information on how to get involved working in Africa. I am open to answering any questions if you would like to know more about my personal experience participating in the program with GAA. If you are interested in learning more about GAA and their mission and programs, check out the links below for more details. You can also contribute by donating to help GAA build a community library in Kibera!
For more information please visit: