Student Blog Entry: Raising Funds and Raising Awareness – The Work Before the Work

“Raising Funds and Raising Awareness – The Work Before the Work”

by Emily Wilson

I am so incredibly excited, and perhaps just now realizing, that we are going to Cambodia to learn, to serve, to share our skills, and to build relationship.  That may seem strange, as this blog and project have been going on for over a year, a group of students already went and I had been accepted for this project months ago.  But for me, it is just becoming real.  So much preparation has been going on; learning about Cambodia and Trauma-Informed Art Therapy®, exploring cultural humility, discussing ethics, getting vaccines, figuring out the schedule logistics and NGOs that we will be partnering with, participating in community awareness events, and raising funds.  It is hard to believe that in less than two months, we will be on the plane to Cambodia getting ready to embark on a life changing experience.

So, how do we pay for the plane tickets, the art supplies to bring, the accommodation for students and supervisors while we are there?  The answer – A lot of hard work and all of you!   I began getting involved with NCAS-I at the beginning of 2012.  I helped serve in the role as Project Manger to organize the 2012 Art Auction Gala, then the 2012 Painting Marathon and now this year’s Art Auction Gala.  It took a dedicated and tireless body of student volunteers, community members, and faculty and staff to coordinate, and take responsibility for all of the moving parts to create these successful fundraisers.  Since the start of this project less than two years ago, we have held over 30 formal 2-4 hours meeting and countless one-off meetings, over 500 individually tracked tasks our control log, enough funds raised to ‘pay it forward’ to sponsor the next year’s trip each year, over 300 volunteers, 250 artists donating matchboxes, and numerous in-kind donations including entertainment, food and drink.

So, why do we do this?  Perhaps if each person took the countless hours invested to work a part time job, we could raise the same amount, or even more funds towards the trip. I have three answers for this:  

1. It builds community – This year’s trip will be undertaken by a group of ten students and two supervisors.  Through our time together and especially our time working hard to create these events, we are building cohesiveness in our group.  A sense of community, togetherness, with each member having an active and contributing role helps to describe group cohesiveness (Corey, Corey & Corey, 2010, Yalom & Leszc, 2005).  I am learning through our process of hard work that I can count on each person, I am seeing others’ many strengths, and I feel we are creating a bond that will hopefully serve us well as we embark on this adventure.

2. It brings awareness – These events also bring awareness to the community and create an environment for dialogue; about sex trafficking, about international work and cultural humility, about the ethics involved, about working with fair trade organizations and orphanages, about sending collective prayers and wishes for peace.  And in addition to the fund-raising events, we participate in many other community awareness events, such as the Longmont Street Festival, at which we talked about this project, and created prayer flags as a symbol for hopes and wishes.  NCAS-I members also spoke about their 2012 trip at a community event and spoke at a Naropa Board meeting to bring awareness within the Naropa Community.  We participated in CU’s Eye Contact event, which was specifically geared towards the issues of human trafficking.  We participated in Art Therapy workshops at BMOCA, a sex trafficking symposium with Transitions, spoke on KGNU, had a feature in Naropa Magazine and the Daily Camera, the Boulder Weekly and more!  We are sparking a dialogue and trying to bring a moment for discussion wherever we go.

3. It is FUN! Each event I participated in and even the work up to the event was FUN!  We laugh, we have exciting events, we create together, we eat great food, we express gratitude and it is super fun.  Rather than write anymore, I have included these pictures to express my sentiment.


Corey C., Corey J., & Corey M. (2010). Groups: Process and practice (8th ed.). Brooks/Cole: Belmont, CA.

Yalom, I & Leszcz, M. (2005). The Theory and practice of group psychotherapy. Basic Books: Cambridge, MA.

Art Therapy and a Global Movement, February 14th

February 14, 2013 is “One Billion Rising” – a global movement involving dance, poetry, art, and activism to encourage the world to rise up to end violence against women. Are you an art therapist and/or an activist? You can join in to create art, dance, activate your community, and help survivors heal.

Watch the “One Billion Rising” short film. [TRIGGER WARNING]


Original link from:

The Painting Marathon PAINTINGS: What It Takes To Get There!

The upcoming Naropa Community Art Studio-International (NCAS-I) 48 PAINTING MARATHON culminates with the completion of three UNIQUE and collaboratively created works of art.  This requires a thoughtful proposal by each of the team’s captains to ensure intentions and outcomes that parallel the mission of the NCAS-I.  Below is a beautiful example of the energy our teams are putting into this project…

The Soaring Hearts Painting Proposal

We want to continue working with the image of a winged heart.  This is a potent image symbolizing our sincere offering of love, strength, and support both locally and globally. The painting will begin with a skeleton of our intended image, an anatomically correct heart with wings.

It is our responsibility to inform, not control, the artwork. We will clearly state and restate our intention behind the painting as a way to inform the work of our team.  THE INTENTION: Through this art we offer a chorus of support and healing for women and girls involved in sex trafficking and all those who serve them. 

We will paste words, images and poetry on the wall around our canvas as a way to provide inspiration and intention setting.  The image above is only one of many.

Painters will be free to express support for our service learning work in whatever creative voice they choose.  There is no way to preserve all of this art, so our compromise is to preserve parts of it, specifically as layers of feathers on the wings.

At either the beginning or end of every 3-hour shift, painters will place masks on the canvas in the shape of feathers.  This will be done with tape, a cardboard or plastic feather shape, or masking fluid (we can offer all three and let each artist choose how they want to do it).

We envision a beautiful layering of stylized imagery constituting the wings of the heart.

During the final shift team captains will help integrate all the layers of artwork, which will include finalizing the heart in the center, creating cohesion in the wings, and fine-tuning the background and border.

We will provide each painter with a small winged heart print to offer our gratitude for their participation and a token to remember.


We believe strongly in making an effort to preserve the work of a community of hands and voices that will go into this painting. Through their artwork, painters essentially have the opportunity to put prayers onto the canvas. We want to uphold and respect these offerings, as well as honor the creative process over product, in alignment with the principles of art therapy.

As artists, we do not want to sacrifice the integrity of a process that allows for spontaneity, honesty and synchronicity.


To create a rich, deeply layered, and well integrated piece of art that anyone would be delighted and honored to win at an auction.

To clearly communicate to painters our plan and the process so they know what our final vision is from the start, and that we hope to include each of their unique voices. Also to inform them that it will be impossible to preserve every bit of what they paint.

To generate fun and excitement about the work we are starting to do in Cambodia, as well as create a stress-free experience for painters and team captains. 

To raise awareness around the problem of sex trafficking and our hopes for rehabilitation and healing.

To inspire and empower a community of artists, a community of support for this project, and to facilitate more awareness of social action art therapy.  

Photo courtesy of The Soaring Hearts

We look forward to this amazing community event where we can all put paintbrushes and paint to canvas to raise awareness for, empower, and heal survivors of sex-trafficking and those who have been affected by trauma.  Thank you for your support, and if we don’t have the pleasure of seeing you at the event, we know you are all with us in spirit.  

No Sunday Plans? Watch “Half the Sky” Online!

Watch Part 1 through October 8 here:

Watch Part 2 through October 9 here:

Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide was filmed in 10 countries and follows Kristof, WuDunn, and celebrity activists America Ferrera, Diane Lane, Eva Mendes, Meg Ryan, Gabrielle Union, and Olivia Wilde on a journey to tell the stories of inspiring, courageous individuals. Across the globe oppression is being confronted, and real meaningful solutions are being fashioned through health care, education, and economic empowerment for women and girls. The linked problems of sex trafficking and forced prostitution, gender-based violence, and maternal mortality — which needlessly claim one woman every 90 seconds — present to us the single most vital opportunity of our time: the opportunity to make a change. All over the world women are seizing this opportunity.” -From

“When women progress, we all progress.” – From “Half the Sky”

Do you want to support NCAS-I and our upcoming Painting Marathon fundraiser?  Visit our Crowdrise page and donate to the cause HERE!

Inspiration: Helen Sworn & Chab Dai (VIDEO)

Students and faculty of the Naropa Community Art Studio-International are so excited for the opportunity to attend “Restoring the Lives of Survivors,” a Symposium sponsored by Transitions.  At an all-day event tomorrow in Greenwood Village, CO, we will have the opportunity to learn from 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.

The video below features Helen Sworn, Director of Chab Dai and a speaker at the Transitions’ Symposium tomorrow.  It highlights the organization’s collaborative way of working, inspiring our own mission, rooted in collaboration and a belief in the innate wisdom, creativity, and interdependence of all.  Check it out!

“Ethos of Collaboration,” by Chab Dai

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

Be A Voice. Shine A Light.

In three days the NCAS-I will begin its journey to Cambodia.  Our main partnership with Transitions Global will give us the opportunity to help in supporting and empowering survivors of sex trafficking in a place where the trafficking industry is so prevalent.  We also hope to be a voice for survivors and shine a light on the trafficking industry as a way to combat human trafficking of the future.  Below are statistics from UN.GIFT (United Nations Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking) regarding Human Trafficking worldwide.  They are staggering.

Human Trafficking Statistics from UN.GIFT

  • 161 countries are involved in or affected by human trafficking in some way
  • Approximately 2.5 million people are forced into labor as a result of human trafficking
  • 1.2 million children are trafficked each year
  • 43% of human trafficking victims – over 1 million – are forced into commercial sexual exploitation, AND 98% of these victims are women and girls
We have posted a number of times about Patricia McCormick’s new book, ‘Never Fall Down,’ Arn Chorn Pond’s story of brutality and survival in Cambodia.  McCormick also published a book in 2006 called, ‘Sold,’ a harrowing account of sexual slavery.  This fall filmmaker Jane Charles will begin filming a moving based on the book ‘Sold.’  Expected to release in the spring of 2013, Charles has released this 60 second preview to build momentum for the project, be a voice and shine a light:

Charles’ Inspiration:  “I feel like these are all our children, whether Cambodia, India, Russia they are all our children we cannot turn a blind eye to it anymore we have to create change,” Charles said.  “These girls could be my daughter, they could be your daughter or they could have been one of us.”

We hope the information provided here on our blog is educational.  Thank you for following us!  Stay with us as we journey to Cambodia – your support is so appreciated!

(Statistics from:

(Original 60 second preview and Charles’ quote from:

A Better Way of Life

One of the 3rd year art therapy students shared this quote in her final oral presentation this week at Naropa University:

“The status of victim can never constitute a way of life.” – Patricia Hill Collins

The NCAS-I could not agree more, which is why we have partnered with Transitions to help rehabilitate and reintegrate girls who have been sex trafficked in Cambodia.  We truly believe these girls should have the opportunity to be survivors and world changers, not victims.

A moving short film by Transitions…

NEW BOOK! – Art Therapy in Asia: To the Bone or Wrapped in Silk

We are so excited to get our hands on this book once it publishes this month!  It couldn’t be more perfect for the work NCAS-I will be doing in Cambodia with Transitions this year and the years to come!

Take a look inside here if you’re curious about the book!  Authors have dedicated two full chapters to Cambodia and trafficking in Southeast Asia!

(Image from

Meet Sok Pisey

Sok Pisey was rescued and began her journey of restoration at the Transitions Dream Home in July of 2010.

Sok Pisey loves the Cambodian dish Lok Lak filled with beef, tomato, onion and shallots stir-fried with an egg on top. The water park in Phnom Penh is a special place for Sok Pisey because of the joy it brings when she gets to spend time there. After the water park, her next favorite activity is making up her face to look pretty!

Sok Pisey thinks she would enjoy having a dog of her own to care for, one with a cute face to fall in love with. She aspires for happiness and forgiveness in her family in the future.

Sok Pisey dreams of using the cooking skills the house moms have taught her to become a chef. She would like to have a good job, knowing how important it is to have an income for food and to support her own family.

If you’re interested in learning more about the women Transitions works with or in sponsoring a girl, click here.

Note: Transitions no longer uses photographs of the girls they work with; initially the only photographs they used were of girls who requested to tell their stories and be spokespeople for Transitions. Recently, due to increasing awareness of the ways images of girls who have been trafficked can be used in diminishing and exploitive ways, Transitions decided to replace photographs with artist renderings of the girls. We think this is awesome.