Painting Marathon 2012: Meet Team “SOARING HEARTS”

Have you chosen a team to support for the NCAS-I Painting Marathon of 2012?  We’d like you to meet team Soaring Hearts!  They are one of three teams representing the Naropa Community Art Studio-International…and we’re pretty sure you’re going to LOVE them!


What does Team SOARING HEARTS have to say?

“Hearts that soar
are wanting more
For the women and girls
who silently roar.

We protest by paintbrush!
all day and all night
To raise enough money
to fund our long flight.

Together we’ll serve
to heal and empower
For nothing can stop
our hearts by the hour.

Soaring Hearts Rise Up!”

Who’s leading this fun-loving team to victory?  None other than the amazing Bethany Wells and Erin Shannon!  Read about these NCAS-I rock stars here!

We know you want to DONATE to Team Soaring Hearts, so go ahead, click on the link below and be our guests!

Like them on Facebook to stay up-to-date on the 2012 Painting Marathon happenings!

Please email with any questions.

Become Part of The Restoration Movement!

It’s not too late to sign up for “Restoring The Lives of Survivors Symposium” presented by Transitions!  And it’s easy…simply follow this link!

A few weeks ago we posted about the event, which you can read about HERE.  The symposium will feature a number of speakers and experts in the field of human trafficking, aftercare, and restoration, covering such issues as shelters, safe homes, aftercare programs, and other responses to serving victims of the sex trafficking industry.

General Information:
8:00 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Greenwood Community Church
5600 E. Belleview Avenue
Greenwood Village, CO 80111

***The Naropa Community Art Studio-International will be represented by some of its 2nd year Art Therapy students along with Sue Wallingford.  We hope to see you there!  

All information gathered from… P.S. Did you now Transitions has a really informative blog?  Check it here!

Photo Credit:  The Naropa Community Art Studio-International, Cambodia, 2012

Symposium Presented by Transitions: Restoring the Lives of Survivors

A symposium on shelters, safe homes, aftercare programs,
and other responses to serving victims of the sex trafficking industry, presented by Transitions on September 29, 2012 in Greenwood Village, CO.  The symposium will specifically cover what key issues are at stake and what is needed to provide successful aftercare and restoration to the survivors of sex trafficking.

Featured speakers and experts in the field of human trafficking, aftercare, and restoration will include:  Tovah Means, who serves on Transitions’ Advisory board (, Stacia Freeman, Executive Director of Abolition International and director of Abolition International Trafficking Shelter Association (, Katherine Chon, Co-Founder and Director Emeritus of Polaris Project in Washington, D.C. (, Helen Sworn, Founder and International Director of Chab Dai (, and James Pond, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Transitions (

Topics will include:  “Trauma Informed Care for Sex Trafficking Survivors,” “The State of Shelters, Accountability, and the Trafficking Shelter Association,” “Strategic Planning for Shelters, Safe Homes, and Aftercare,” “What Excellence Looks Like,” “How Do We Know We Are Effective?,” “Faith in Practice.”

Are you wondering if you should attend?  This symposium is intended for: Those who currently provide domestic or international aftercare; Those interested in creating an aftercare facility or program; Those who desire to work in the aftercare arena; Those concerned about the critical need for successful restoration.



If you have any questions about the Symposium, please contact Pam Harvey at

***Transitions is an organization that provides holistic and innovative long-term aftercare for adolescent girls who have been rescued from sex trafficking.  The Naropa Community Art Studio – International (NCAS-I) formed a partnership with Transitions in 2011 and traveled to Cambodia to work with the organization in May of 2012.  The NCAS-I looks forward to a continued partnership with Transitions and fully supports their mission.  

All information gathered from

Questions, and more questions

by Meg Hamilton

We’ve shared a lot about the groups we have done and the things we have been seeing and experiencing here. I think we all agree- this has been a profound experience. One we are immensely grateful for. Our learning has encompassed quite a lot. In addition to the hands on experiences of the art therapy groups with the girls and the self-care groups with the staff we’ve engaged in numerous discussions with each other and with the NGO’s (primarily Transitions and Ragamuffin, although we have met numerous inspiring individuals here) we are so inspired by about what our role here looks like. How can we be most effective and gain the most learning during a period of 3 weeks?

We have realized this learning could not really happen until we were actually here seeing how these organizations operate and gaining a clearer understanding of cultural dynamics. Thus we have asked ourselves a lot of hard questions- many of which have no clear answer. Those of us in the group have stood on opposite sides of a few of these issues, and learned from each other’s perspectives as we’ve held onto our unique beliefs.

While it may take a book or two to really get into these questions and issues I’d like to at least present what some of these things have been.

As westerners in a third world country that values social hierachies in their cultural structure we have faced a number of questions about power and empowerment. What does real empowerment look like? How do we know if we are seeing autonomous choices or if the person we are talking with is being influenced by power dynamics at play? Given the power inherent in our presence here how do we maintain awareness of its impact while continuing to seek authentic relationships with those we encounter?

The relationships brings us to other questions. How are we representing those we have established relationships with- whether they be brief or sustained over the course of our time here? How do we represent them through photographs? Art work? Stories and language? What about the attachments we form- how do we hold an ethical responsibility to care for attachments and also seek to develop short term relationships with those we are working with?

What is of the most benefit to the NGO’s here, and how can we structure the things we are doing so they are sustainable for Transitions? How do we collaborate on these things in the midst of a lack of cultural familiarity on our part?

We are all processing these questions in our own ways- I use photography to do this for myself. The photographs above are part of this process for me. The act of photographing is a complex process for me- multi-faceted and requiring many levels of engagement. When I look through my photographs I see both my questions and my curiosity. I see my struggles and my criticisms. In the faces of those of those I’ve photographed, though, I am reminded that all of this learning and growing happens in relationships. When I relax into who I am and allow the person in front of me to be who they are something happens, and together we achieve some tiny moment of connection. The shutter snaps and I have a reminder of this interaction. So it’s in relationship to ourselves, to each other, to those we are working with, and to those around us that we continue to move forward and engage this work. There is much to learn.

Work and Play

by: Katie Markley

Today began with a spark of energy.  We had agreed to create a mural at Transitions and today was the day.  Up early, out the door, and into a Tuk Tuk.  Weaving through a sea of motos, bicycles, pedestrians and cars we began to discuss our plans.  A draft had been created for the painting to offer guidance yet if there is one thing we have learned, it is to adapt.  We planned for potential hangups and altered the design to suit the space.

The mural’s design reflects the mission of Transitions.  A butterfly was selected to be the central image as we have noticed this symbol arising in the art created through our work in Cambodia. When inquiring about the meaning of the butterfly we were told that it represents peace to many Khmer people.  At the tips of the butterfly’s wings you can see the profile of young women, a simplified representation of the girls at Transitions.  Lotus flowers are incorporated throughout, depicted in various stages of blooming.  The piece is surrounded by the Transitions logo, “Freedom Begins with a Dream,” written in both English and Khmer.

We worked wholeheartedly and focused for nearly five hours to cultivate the final product you see here.  While standing back and taking in our efforts we were amazed at what can be accomplished in such a short amount of time.  Marissa offered that it felt like we had participated in a “mural flashmob” and I would agree.

The second half of the day was spent with the girls.  They greeted us warmly, beaming smiles our way and quizzing us on the Khmer words they had taught us in our last meeting.  We sat on the floor in a large circle and settled into the dance of our two languages being spoken one after the other, English translated into Khmer and Khmer back to English.  It is a practice in patience and quiet listening.

We offered the girls the dream flags that were created by the Naropa community during our Small Resources=Big Possibilities art auction.  A girl next to me held one of the flags, rubbing her fingers over the green and gold paint, and said “suh-aht” (beautiful). Then, we guided the group in making charm necklaces as a way to both build relationship between our merging groups and offer an opportunity to make something special for oneself, an act of self-love if you will.  The girls all completed necklaces reflecting their personal style.  We concluded our meeting by sharing some of our talents with each other.  Meg and Emma offered a duet of Amazing Grace and the girls performed a traditional dance.  We left feeling full.

There is more to come…thank you following!

1st Course: Crickets!

Yum! Roasted Crickets!

by Tracey Kayne and Meg Hamilton

Our adventures in Siem Reap ended today as we embarked on our trek back to Phnom Penh.  Along our six hour bus ride, the bus driver announced that the bus was going to pull over for a 30 minute break.  We were greeted by rows of street carts that have piles of roasted crickets and as you continued to walk along each stand had larger and larger crickets.   We stood there in disbelief.  We learned quickly that roasted crickets are a delicacy in Cambodia. Cambodians began eating crickets during the Khmer Rouge regime out of desperation. During this time up to 2 million Cambodians died, many as a result of starvation (

Despite the dark inception of this culinary trend crickets are an extremely popular snack in Cambodia still. Clearly, we immediately began daring each other to see who would give it a try. We looked around our group, urging “C’mon- just try it!” and being completely unwilling to do it ourselves. Personally, I was in the “not a chance in hell” corner.

Then, Katie H. chirped up, “I’ll do it!” We didn’t believe her until she reached her hand into the pile of crickets carefully selecting her cricket snack. The woman behind the cart began laughing quietly and continued to do so through the whole ordeal.

Katie examined the cricket, turning it over in her fingers. She raised it to her lips and… CRUNCH! The cricket’s hind legs and thorax disappeared down her throat.

She nodded nonchalantly and said, “Yep. Tastes like cricket,” and handed the remainder to Sue. Sue didn’t even hesitate and quickly took a bite of the cricket. “Now I  can say I ate a cricket.”

The woman at the stand seemed to be enjoying this so much she wouldn’t even accept our payment for our cricket experiment. She was entertained by watching our disbelief and chuckled to herself at the sight of this.

We told Katie and Sue that since they had tackled crickets now they were ready to upgrade. Check out what’s next on the menu:

Well, that was certainly one bit of cultural learning we won’t forget. Tomorrow we go to Transitions’ Shine School! We will meet Athena Pond, one of the founders of Transitions, and begin to get oriented to the organization and the work we will be doing with them. Much, much more to come!

A few pictures from Anjali House

Sue Wallingford and Tracey Kayne tell the story of the Angry Monster with the help of an Anjali teacher

Photographs from Angkor Wat

In Sum: Small Resources=Big Possibilities Art Auction Video

Our good friend Brian volunteered his talents at the Small Resources=Big Possibilities Art Auction Gala and created a video for us of the event. We are so grateful to have this to document the evening and offer another glimpse into the incredible work the NCAS-I team has been doing. The event raised $9,500- most of which will go towards next year’s Cambodia trip.

Click the link below to check out the video, and stay tuned for more news about our trip- it’s approaching fast (we leave May 23) and we are in the middle of planning trainings and brainstorming art therapy interventions that may be useful for Transitions. We’ll share some previews on the blog over the next few weeks.

Art Auction Video on Vimeo! 

Photographs from the Small Resources=Big Possibilities Gala!

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photographs by Erin Shannon, Jessica Sabo, and Meg Hamilton