Youlou Arts Foundation

photo by Ann Crytser

Being tapped on the shoulder to help out with this dynamic program was the perfect way to ease into the summer break. My first clue that it was going to be a positive experience came when I attended a planning meeting in May for the Youlou Arts Foundation’s 3rd annual summer arts fair and discovered that there were a total of three people named Camille working on this project. Camille Saunders Musser, founder of Youlou Arts, Camille Crichton, head of the art fair committee, and myself. Along with a team of board members, friends of Youlou and PCVs, we were able to host a day of creative activities for children and raise money for the foundation’s visual arts program. Inadvertently, I became the designated face painter and spent the afternoon building my portfolio for the career as a special effects make-up artist that I’ll be able to fall back on after Peace Corps.

photo by Ann Crytser

The summer arts fair took place on July 16th, after a week of the teacher training workshop aimed at preparing teachers to implement a three-week visual arts program in four different villages throughout St. Vincent. Along with Camille M and two Japanese volunteers, Kimie and Ken, we designed the week-long training sessions so that teachers and PCVs helping out would be able to experiment with the art activities they would be implementing with the students during the program. Discussions around facilitating the children’s creative process and best practices about managing materials in the classrooms were also included in hopes they would be helpful and encouraging for other school teachers to incorporate visual arts activities during the school year.

The theme of this year’s visual arts program was “My Homeland” and students were encouraged to find and creatively express the beauty in their natural everyday surroundings. A visit to an archaeological dig site in the village of Brighton inspired the children to act as archaeologists and cultural anthropologists investigating the cultural heritage of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Subsequent activities gave them the opportunity to reflect on their “fieldwork” during the field trip as they wrote poetry, created jewelry, painted, and made masks to capture their personal experiences.

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