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WINDOWS Arts Education

Caldwell Fine Arts Series, Inc.

WINDOWS programs sought to give students a better understanding of cultures different from their own—a peek inside a window to build bridges of tolerance and appreciation. Understanding the “other” by experiencing their arts helped children see the best in people and recognize our common humanity. 5 of our 11 WINDOWS programs were funded by ICA.
Okaidja: The students in Jewett Auditorium were involved in learning about new instruments and songs of Ghana. Taft Elementary, home to many African refugee students, received an in-school assembly with traditional African drumming and singing.
Villalobos Brothers: These contemporary Mexican musicians performed for schools with a high percentage of Hispanic students. They enjoyed connecting with their musical traditions, and sharing their culture with their classmates.
Where Children Sleep: Housed in the new Cruzen-Murray Library, the exhibit told stories of diverse children, through pictures of their bedrooms. This was a captivating and sometimes life-changing exhibit for many children.
Jake Shimabukuro: Jake Shimabukuro captivated audiences in Jewett Auditorium with wonderful musicianship and a positive message about living a life without drugs.
Ballet Folklorico Mexico Lindo: BFML presented dance programs for whole school assemblies for Cinco de Mayo, and throughout the year for special needs students.

The Essential Question that guided our projects’ focus was:

How is art used to impact the views of a society?

MU:Pr4.2.2a to MU:Pr4.2.8c Explain how context (such as social and cultural) informs a performance.

We interviewed students and teachers after performances to see if they understood the cultural context of what they had seen and heard. They were asked to compare the music they heard to music of their culture and relate it to their personal experience.

VA:Cn11.1.2a to VA:Cn11.1.IIIa Identify how art is used to inform or change beliefs, values, or behaviors of an individual or society (including grade level variations from).

We interviewed students attending the Where Children Sleep art exhibit to see how their values and beliefs were challenged after viewing the photographs depicting great poverty and affluence. We also invited them to contribute to a “Community Clothesline” where they could write down their thoughts.

At the conclusion of the project, students responded to questions related to the identified Standards:

Students of Mexican decent related to the Villalobos Brothers program. A 16-year old from Wilder: “I’m from Mexico too, so it made me so happy to see them in person, and hear them play all their songs.” A 16-year-old from Capital HS enjoyed learning about a new culture from BFML: “Thank you for coming out to our school and sharing your culture and your dancing with us! We had so much fun learning with you!”
Many students attending Where Children Sleep had their perceptions challenged.
“I think too often people take for granted what they have and seldom think about how little others have. Nobody chooses to be poor or gets to decide what kind of life they are born into, but we can be grateful for what we have. A lot of the kids grew up in bad areas and won’t ever get the chance to do what they really want with their lives but continue to work hard everyday anyways.” – Kaydree, Meridian High School
“I think the pictures of the Beauty Pageant Child and Hunter Boy affected me most. It showcased how extremely fortunate, privileged and spoiled we are when compared to the rest of the world. It was truly eye opening.” – Xavier, Boise
“The (picture) of the child in the field that really shocked me because not only does he not have a bed, but he doesn’t even have a house or anywhere warm where he can sleep.” – Ethan, Nampa

Impact

Through these cultural programs, I was delighted with the openness of children to learn about and enjoy another culture. I believe this early exposure will help them relate to others who may look different, speak in a diverse language, or perform unfamiliar music—to see inside the window of another’s experience.  Children were happy to dance along with Okaidja, sing along with Villalobos Brothers, clap along with Jake Shimabukuoro, and dance along with Ballet Folklorico Mexico Lindo. Their acceptance of those who are different was heart-warming and encourages me in my work of bringing a little bit of the  larger world into our corner of Idaho.

My favorite moment of our education programs this season was watching students experience Where Children Sleep. As they read the biographies and looked at the stunning photography of children around the world in such disparate situations, some of them were visibly moved to tears. It was amazing to see an affluent student from a private school staring into the eyes of a homeless boy from Brazil their same age. Without exception, they were quiet and respectful as they toured the exhibit, taking time to look at and read about these children. They gave powerful feedback as to how the exhibit challenged them. I believe this is one of the most impactful programs we’ve ever presented.

Reflection

Our program was a great success this year. One thing we learned is that we can’t predict school interest in certain programs. We were surprised at the high interest in some programs, and the lower interest in others. Some of this depended on the school’s schedules and other things that we don’t have any control over. We learned to be more flexible as we went along, and tried to meet the needs of the schools, even if the format or amount of participation was different than we expected. For example, we had a much higher demand than anticipated for the Ballet Folklorico Mexico Lindo program, and we were able to shuffle programming around to accommodate hundreds more students.

Another area we explored this year was with trying to reach out to more High School students. Since they often have very rigid schedules, we have a harder time busing them to campus. We partnered with the College of Idaho Admissions office to offer tours as students came on campus for programs, and vice versa. We found out which schools were touring campus during our Where Children Sleep exhibit, and reached out to them to see if they wanted to tour the exhibit at the same time. This was a great benefit for both of our organizations and brought hundreds more students in to see the exhibit than otherwise.

We anticipate hosting more visual art displays as a result of the high interest and high impact of this program.

Because of lower grant awards, we were not able to fund the ukulele purchases we had hoped for. We plan to continue this priority in future years to encourage students who are excited after seeing Jake Shimabukuro perform.

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