Peace of Art at Dartmouth College Experience

Thursday, May 5, 2011 8:34 PM

Got up at 5 am to make my flight to the New England area. Peace of Art: Design for Change exhibit was invited to display at Dartmouth College. Not only display, but also to lecture at the Rockefeller Center about the Mobilization of art for social justice in the US/Mex Borderland and to visit various classrooms and chat with students candidly about our borderland. I was excited. What an awesome opportunity to speak to young minds about such an important issue. Just to think that we got an opportunity to plant a seed of social justice in the leaders of tomorrow. Man... what a responsibility... I felt the stress building up as I flew from El Paso to Houston and then to Boston. As I waited for the Dartmouth Charter at the airport, I sat there patiently and prayed. I prayed that God give me the right words to reach out to these students and to touch their hearts and minds.

I was received by Lourdes Gutierrez Najera, a wonderful professor who organized our visit. She gave me a tour of the town and we had some pizza. The following morning, I walked the town, it was cold and it rained on me. I was amazed by the amount of trees in the region... "so many trees!" I thought... so many ideas, so many causes, so many problems in the world. How could I get the students at Dartmouth to hear me out, to get them to care about Cd. Juarez, most importantly, how can I convince them to take action?

I did some shopping, had some warm food and I met some nice people. I went to a local church, visited a museum and finally stopped by the Lourdes' office at Silsby Hall. We were invited to dinner by students and they were eager to listen to me. I wasn't sure what they expected from me. I thought they just wanted to have dinner. I wasn't prepared to answer their questions... I was caught a little off guard. I felt like a deer in the lights. I couldn't understand why I froze. I was worried about the following day's lecture. Later that evening, we set up the artwork at Baker Library. A couple of students along with Lourdes, we set it up and it looked wonderful! I went to bed super excited for the next day's events.

Monday morning, cold and no sun. I was full of excitement. Had some pourage for breakfast and walked the town a bit. I went back to my room and printed my presentation... I went to the lobby and practiced my presentation. I was ready. As I walked towards the Rockefeller Center, the adrenaline was going full blast. Take a deep breathe Sandra... just take it easy.. God, put the right words into my lips so that the students can hear me out. Rockefeller Center was full.

Photo by Samantha Oh / The Dartmouth Staff

Here is an outline of the presentation:

Showed a video
History of Cd. Juarez and El Paso
Effects of Cartels in Cd. Juarez
Video Villas de Salvarcar
Peace of Art: Design for Change
How it formed
POA events
The community's response EP & CD J
Future of Peace of Art
Why should the students care?
What can they do?

Mother Theresa Quote: "If we have no peace, is because we have forgotten we belong to each other."

Students responded well. They had many questions, which were answered to the best of my knowledge. We had a great response. I felt it went smoothly except for the part where someone's phone rang... lost my train of thought... but eventually came back on track.

The following days I visited various classes and had a more intimate conversation with students and professors. I visited an art class, a border studies class, a couple of literature classes and a geography class. They were all quite interesting with the students asking questions and sharing some great information too. The visit ended with a reception organized by student organizations. They wanted a more relaxed, intimate conversation with me. The students were great. They had such wonderful feedback. Many had roots to the borderland region and expressed their concern. I was touched when I heard that some of these students have not seen their families due to the violence.

What a wonderful experience! I learned much from this trip, I only hope that the students did too.

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