Art Around Asia (AAA) was a truly unforgettable experience! Our youth group of twenty-two enjoyed planning and coordinating this event every step of the way. In AAA we gave take-home art kits to children in our community. They were able to learn about four different countries: Sri Lanka, Pakistan, South Korea, and Malaysia, and create four different cultural crafts! ‘Country leaders’ in our youth group personally designed these crafts, as they have a background in or a relation to their respective countries. Our youth group was also split into four groups, tasked with planning and preparing for a certain country. Through this, we promoted cultural authenticity and respect, as we strive to through Art Around Asia. Our youth group wanted to create AAA since believe the sharing of culture connects people in our community and world and is a complex topic where we are all learners!
Nevertheless, we encountered many challenges in executing this event. AAA was originally an in-person arts camp for children, yet due to the pandemic, we modified it to be remote. Our planning process altered completely; we navigated purchasing materials, created instruction pamphlets, and managed sixty art kits. It was a learning experience we took organizational and critical problem-solving skills from. There were cases where materials were insufficient, or stores had no stock. We also found that mass printing our paper was expensive and unsustainable, so we switched to online instructional and educational pamphlets.
Still, we had many successes. Our marketing committee efficiently promoted our initiatives, setting up posters, boards, and networking on social media. We were also able to finish packing all the arts in time, with the addition of four different cultural snacks! Our kits contained materials and instructions for: painting Diwali candles from Sri Lanka, Henna art from Pakistan, Pallet Drums from South Korea, and traditional costume stickers from Malaysia. While we were worried about obtaining sixty registrants, spots quickly filled out.
The event day went smoothly. For the whole day, our youth members came in shifts, managing a sign-in table where participant guardians could pick up their art kits. We were very pleased to see the children so excited to open their art kits! Parents and siblings informed us of kids who wanted to make their crafts right away and enjoyed learning about the countries. Our youth group bonded with each other, the guardians, and even the children who came along to see their art kits. Also, those who were passing by expressed interest, and we put them on a waitlist. This ensured no art kits would be wasted if participants failed to pick them up.
All in all, Art Around Asia is a day our youth group, the participants, and I would love to remember. We felt fulfilled knowing we introduced ideas of diversity, cultural identity, and cultural appreciation to strengthen the community. And of course, none of this would have been possible without the generosity and kindness of Y-NSG and everyone else involved. For this, we give our wholehearted thanks!