I write honestly about the way I see the world, and sometimes I may say more than I should. Sometimes restraint is more effective than revelation. Sometimes I just need to keep my little chicken lips shut. Diplomacy… a virtue I’m working on in communist China.
The kids in this village, like many rural places, have a certain sense of innocence about them. They are not addicted to digital media, and none of them have cell phones. It doesn’t matter if their cloths are clean or their hair is styled. They are willing to play and laugh out loud.
The flip side to that innocence is that it’s easily influenced by ignorance.
Kids survive with adequate sustenance and affection. Education is what separates the ones who survive, from the ones who thrive. It’s the only way to offer the next generation an existence better than our own, and good parents and teachers have worked to ensure this for centuries. It’s how our society progresses. So what if you’re caught in a system that operates on a slightly different set of values. What if the only way to create change, and improve a system that barely meets your basic needs, requires you to ruffle the feathers of a very powerful chicken? What if you are only 9 or 10 years old? Most likely, you keep your little chicken lips shut, and move along.
I have said many times that I believe ART is the fourth basic human need, right after food, water, and shelter. I believe it even comes before education, because it opens the pathways to critical thinking, making any education easier to absorb. It also develops self-awareness, fostering compassion and a sense of community.
This notion, combined with my desire to empower girls, is the basis for my Mighty Fingers Facing Change project. Kevin Macpherson, a fellow painter with the same kind of mindset and wanderlust, started an organization called ArtAmbassodor.org, his focus being kids. We swapped stories years ago about what drives us to this work, and it’s been fun to watch each other’s progress. I’m proud to participate in this collaboration between Kevin’s ArtAmbassador.org and Jugian.org.
Jiuqian.org provides programming and education for the children of migrant workers in Shanghai. They also provide programming and support in the villages where these migrant workers come from. This project, happening simultaneously in three villages, was a pilot project designed to give these kids a sense of identity and pride about their roots. We used art as a medium for exploration, expression, and empowerment. We were also asked to create a piece of collaborative art at each school. girls’ Water Lillies
Much of the work I do for Mighty Fingers requires asking a lot of questions. We work to help girls think creatively, so they can find their own alternative solutions to a variety of life’s challenges. The more work I do, the more questions I ask. This was a hard trip for me, and it inspired many questions. So many that Mr. Zhang may be happy to see me depart 🙂
I greatly admire the work that Mr. Zhang is doing through Jiuqian.org. He’s very good at dancing with the powerful chicken. He knows the steps. I don’t. I’ve worked hard to keep my chicken lips closed, and I hope I’ve added some value to his work. I hope that he will continue his effort to create a better future for the kids in rural China. I hope that someday soon he will be able to provide his programs under his own terms, rather than being dictated by those that recognize their power rather than their responsibility. I hope that his NGO will be supported by some of the corporate entities that make their billions through the labor of these people. He offers something to these kids that no one else does.
In April 2016, Jiuqian.org will produce an exhibition in Shanghai about the work we did in each village. We hope that through this exhibition, Jiuqian.org will find more support to continue this programming in Shanghai, and in the rural villages in China. He can use some help in designing it. We have great pictures and stories from the kids. We have video and data.
Do you do business in China? Would you like to support this exhibition and this valuable programming? Here’s your chance.
If you want to speak to Mr. Zhang directly and ask about what he is doing and what he needs most? – here he is.
Would you like to help spread ART to kids around the world through ArtAmbassador.org? This is the reason I’m here. Here is your link.
Would you like to use ART to empower adolescent girls around the world with your Mighty Fingers? You Go Girl… Right Here!
Can you help move any of this work forward and want to speak to me directly? I’m here, and interested.