Blog by Sue Wallingford, faculty mentor NCAS-I
As the NCAS-I team is preparing to embark on our first trip (in just 5 days!) to Cambodia to work with the girls at Transitions and other NGO organizations, and I am feeling quite nervous, I am reminded of the words of one of my students, Katie Hanczaryk. After a very moving day of collecting art from Boulder artists for our art auction gala in March and the outpouring of support we felt from the community at every turn, she said to me with watery eyes full of wonder and deep appreciation, “this is way bigger than we are.”
I have tossed these words over and over in my head so many times, trying to make sense of them. Sometimes they come with a sense of dread and sometimes those words bring tremendous relief. “This is so much bigger than we are,” because we have a whole community of people, seen and unseen, behind us sharing the dream of a better and more just world. And there is a force even bigger than all that holding the potential that perhaps we can make a difference, in the lives of the people we work with, and in our own lives too.
This force, whatever it may be, has been there and held us since the beginning. In a little over a years time, NCAS-I created a mission, an image, a partnership with an international social justice organization in Cambodia, two successful fundraising events, a sustainable plan to continue our work internationally and over $36,000.00 in our pocket book so we could provide scholarships to future art therapy students wanting to share the power of art therapy to heal the effects of trauma that is part of the fabric of this culture.
We are fortunate to have the opportunity to work with 3 different organizations while we are in Cambodia. Transitions, that shelters and rehabilitates girl survivors of the sex trafficking industry. Raggamuffin Project, an organization that brings the creative arts to children and families suffering from the long-term effects of trauma so prevalent in the Cambodian culture and Anjali House, an orphanage in Siem Reap that offers education and creative expression to children from extreme poverty. And we will be spending 2 days with Arn Chorn Pond, a survivor of the Khmer Rouge regime who now dedicates his whole life to bringing back the traditional Cambodian arts to his people that was silenced during the rule of Pol Pot.
So, yes, we have a mission to complete, there is a lot more to do, and with the help of the loving community behind us, we can do it and I’m sure will be forever changed.
Thank you for your support, your love, and your belief in what we are trying to do.
If you have time in your day, please feel free to send words of encouragement and stay tuned and FOLLOW US, to see what we are up too.
NCAS-I loves you!