By Cynthia Hanna
This is not how I expected 2020 to go...the idea of a pandemic shutting down schools and altering learning and teaching as we knew it was crazy talk. My art students that I had been nurturing along all year were suddenly on their own as communication on the reservation is hit or miss on a good day. I am so thankful for the many art teachers that shared ideas online, it made navigating distance learning so much more manageable.
One thing that really filled my heart with joy were my two AP Art Seniors who came in one day recently to upload their portfolios since they did not have internet at home. They weren’t allowed inside the school building either, so we set up a table in the shade. I located some laptops and extension cords, and we went about the business of uploading for the next six hours. Luckily it was not a windy day; otherwise, we would have been chasing art projects around the parking lot. I was so proud of them for persevering and seeing this project through to the end.
If dealing with the changes of the COVID 19 pandemic weren’t enough, in the last few days we have watched from a distance as Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd were killed on video seemingly because black men are to be confronted with violence while white men are talked to like reasonable humans even while openly carrying a weapon. Or to be a black woman killed by police in her own home like Breonna Taylor, I have to ask myself, why is this still happening? In reaction to the re-opening of this racial tension, the people protest and riot and loot. All the rage and fear has festered and is boiling over and permeating the ether. What to do in a world gone mad?
Where do we fit in as artists and teachers? I am sad that school is out and that I am unable to have conversations with my students about the events of this spring as they unfold. Ultimately, it is overwhelming to the point I find it difficult to breathe. But no one is kneeling on my neck, so inevitably, thanks to biology, I can take that next breath and continue to breathe. I am here. I am alive. I can do something to help out in one way or another.
If you are feeling helpless, help someone. -- Aung San Suu Kyi
I have come back to this quote time and again because it resonates with something deep in my core. It’s the reason that I have actively volunteered throughout my life. Being of service fills my soul. Dawn C. Carr MGS, Ph.D., writes in Psychology Today that there are five reasons that one should volunteer.
1. Volunteers live longer and are healthier.
2. Volunteering establishes strong relationships
3. Volunteering is good for your career.
4. Volunteering is good for society.
5. Volunteering gives you a sense of purpose.
So in this time of suffering, you could be of service to others in the issues of the day or become more involved in organizations close to your heart.
You could join a protest.
You could make art that reflects the current state of society.
You could help communities that are hardest hit by the COVID 19 pandemic by donating money or food.
If you are thinking of something a little more long term, you could be of service in one of our open positions within the NMAEA organization: Treasurer, Membership Director, Elementary division chair, Administrative/Supervisor division chair, and Award chair.
The New Mexico Art Education Association is an organization run by volunteers. I am currently serving as treasurer even though my term was up a year and a half ago. I have no background in accounting, but I have learned the ins and outs of Quickbooks. But the best part of volunteering for this organization has been getting to know some amazing art teachers from around the state that I would not have otherwise known because of my introverted tendencies and isolated rural community where I teach. We need people to step up for the organization to continue to thrive with fresh ideas and perspectives. As I have, you may find that an act of service with NMAEA may be what the soul/heart needs.
Everybody can be great...because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love. --Martin Luther King, Jr.
*You may find that an act of service with NMAEA may be just what your soul and heart need.