Minda News recently posted an article "Laos kids express hope for the future through images." The central theme of the article was the idea that through "drawings, photos and role play, children from different provinces met in Vientiane to express their vision for their villages by the time they reach 20."
This particular program, World Vision Lao, goes back to an issue I've raised in the past on the importance of educators and community members to go beyond history and the preservation of traditions and 'practical' issues of reading, writing, and arithmetic. Creativity is also a strategic skill set that can be taught and is necessary to ensure continued growth and innovation in the Lao culture. It is difficult to create change and positive social transformation if children and adults cannot envision alternate possibilities and different modes of being, and the respect required to incorporate those various visions into their local daily lives.
A good arts education in the Lao community today needs to return back to the original dynamics of the past that encouraged an understanding of our history but also distinct individual expression. It must also do more than reinforce existing social structures, but allow the community a chance to engage in multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary dialogues. Many skills, many visions, many voices can create an amazing society.
But this also means broadening our visual and literary vocabulary. To create new images and literature that explores the different possibilities of being, not just of who we have been and are, but who we can be. Here, the projects being described in the World Vision Lao program are trying to keep grounded. There's value in this, even as I wish more than 12 students could be engaged with it, and that we could see even more ambitious visioning for the communities. But, as they say, every ocean begins with a drop of water.