Student Blog Entry: On Preparing

“On Preparing”

By Erin Shannon, 2nd year Art Therapy student and NCAS-I member

There are twelve of us preparing to embark on the next trip to Cambodia. Though many individuals have been fundraising and organizing together for over two years, this semester marks the first time we officially come together as a group to begin preparation for the journey.

I think we are fortunate to be dedicating an entire semester to learning about trauma-informed art therapy, Cambodian culture, and the meaning of responsible service learning abroad. I am inspired by Daniela Papi who encourages Learning Service, which puts an emphasis on learning before being able to serve. I am indeed steeping myself in knowledge and humility, aware we will learn tremendously from the women and children we intend to serve. What we will bring in exchange is our knowledge of art therapy as a powerful means of self-care and healing.

As a way to nurture our future selves, we wrote letters that we will open once we are working in Cambodia.


Is there something you would say to the you of the future? Is there anything you think the future you needs to hear? Pondering these questions, I am reminded of Pema Chödrön’s words,

There are no promises. When we are training in the art of peace, we are not given any promises that because of our noble intentions everything will be okay. In fact, there are no promises of fruition at all.

Instead, we are encouraged to simply look deeply at joy and sorrow, at laughing and crying, at hoping and fearing, at all that lives and dies. We learn that what truly heals is gratitude and tenderness.

With a tender heart and huge amount of gratitude, I am gathering resources in excited anticipation of all that is to come.

A video of Daniela Papi speaking about learning service:

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