Plan to Take On the World.
Linda Ruth Paskell ’81, ’96M.Ed.
(second from left)
THE ARCADIA PROMISE: Integrative Learning
Exploring Real-World Issues
I returned to Arcadia as an Adjunct Professor and collaborate with the Global Connections program to offer a class at DePaul Homeless Shelter in Philadelphia, Pa. In my course, The Artist in the Community, I guide undergraduates as they volunteer at the shelter, working on a variety of projects that fuse art, community and service.
The course connects Arcadia students to a new environment, while bringing awareness of local populations in need. By showing up without any preconceived notion of what homelessness looks like, it allows students to reach out in unexpected ways, such as repurposing plain corkboards to brighten up common areas, or transforming spaces with small improvements like fresh paint and new linens.
The power is in the simple. These small changes bring a sense of dignity and warmth to the living space that the residents temporarily call home.
In addition to volunteering at the Home, students learn about Art History and curation, and discover their own artistic style through a series of group and individual projects. Students are required to create artwork they’ve formed an attachment to, destroy it and reconstruct anew piece of art with what remains. By doing so, they discover a resurrection of lives and possibilities, finding beauty out of ashes. It provides a fitting parallel to understanding and empathizing with the residents at DePaul.
Taryn Waraksa ’13 (second from right)
Through my Artist in the Community class, I learned that art has an everlasting ability to join thoroughly different groups of people so that they can work together for the common good. At DePaul House for the homeless, we used art to break down barriers and build relationships, unifying two groups of people.
The course required me to step outside of my comfort zone, and allowed me to learn more about myself, and the way I interact with others and the world.
It's easy to enter an unfamiliar environment or situation with pre-existing notions, but you interact with individuals outside of your own culture, you begin to see them as a friend, or even part of your family. No matter if you're black, white, homeless, middle or upper class, male, female, anything... we learn from each other's mistakes and misfortunes, we work off of each other's strengths, and we support each other through the differences and the similarities.