The India Field School has been such an enriching adventure for that and taught me a lot about who I am and who I want to be as an aspiring teacher. I learnt about my strengths and of my weaknesses but what I appreciated the most about this experience is being able to develop this website to share my growth and the powerful experiences in working with Mount Royal and the Sri Ram Ashram.
There is a certain wonder about the Ashram that holds sincere precedence to those who live and visit there. It is not simply a shelter for abandoned or orphaned children but a loving home no matter what background, status, or past. The Ashram offers a sanctuary to grow and learn as a family. As global citizens, there is so much to learn ourselves from the open hearts of their community, whom had had so much loss in their life but still have so much to give.
Have you ever head the saying a picture is worth a thousand words? Can you imagine a whole Mural? A large swimming pool no less and that is an entire story just waiting to be told. There is nothing like a blank canvas to spark creativity and the Sri Ram Ashram was our inspiration to have something to say. To retell that same story of Mount Royal and the Ashram coming together in creating something meaningfully beautiful.
It is a story of hope.
A story of family.
A story of love.
The mural project has become an ongoing tribute, where Mount Royal students and the Sri Ram Ashram family collaboratively celebrate the long-standing relationship between the two agencies utilizing symbolic representations of the collaboration, friendship, and love that the Ashram emanates. This project, the Mural, is a way to tell this story.
Meet the Team
MRU India 2018 Field School Student
Bachelor of Child Studies
Early Learning and Child Care
"Art is a form of expression that narrates thoughts & feelings that cannot easily be explained with words but experienced to be realized"
Seventeen year old Youth
Member of the Sri Ram Ashram Family
Kamal is like any other seventeen-year-old that is just trying to find his way in life and his future. His quiet, reserved, and gentle nature sets him apart from others and even in speaking with Rashmi, the director of the Ashram, mentioned her concerns that his shy demeanor may prevent him from excelling. But one thing was for sure that everyone knew was his love and passion for art, which made him a perfect fit for Rashmi to recommend him onto the team!
MRU India 2018 Field School Student
Bachelor of Communications
"The best thing about Art is it can make you feel like you're part of a group, while also making you feel like you're expressing yourself at the same time"
"Art opens my mind. I never feel alone when I am doing art. "
A First Look
There is such a rich a profound history to the Mural Project that extends all the way back to 2012 when the first Mural was painted, each time capturing a blend of the culture and efforts that the MRU students and SRA family come together to create. I thought that the previous project did amazing job in making that connection between the two agencies and coming from a Child Studies background, I saw the importance of incorporating our collaboration, but I also wanted to include aspects of what the children have experienced and felt in living in the Ashram with ideas that would be fun, bright, and inviting to look at. I had to come to terms with the fact that fully involving all the children at the Ashram was unrealistic in terms of design and quality but developing something that they would be excited and proud to see everyday was the main goal.
I was most transfixed by using an elephant as a main focal point of the Mural. The year preparing to go to India, an elephant, most specifically Ganesh, has been a recurring theme and presence throughout our Field School. In Hindu mythology, he is seen as a source of protective healing and strength as a remover of obstacles. We honored and designated him as our guide through India and as a symbolism of our perseverance through anything that stood in our way. I thought this was also representative of what the Sri Ram Ashram is as a place of solace for the children
Examination the Process
In first meeting Kamal, he first came off as very soft spoken but once we started talking about the Mural, he lightened up and eager to start. He was a completely different person. It was an exciting process in sharing our ideas and gathering the materials that we needed. We had an immediate connection as artists in making our piece come alive.
In the early stages of the Mural, there was an apparent difference in some concepts surrounding art. Rashmi shared her concerns with the lack of supports in self expression and this proved to be evident in how he struggled with free form art.
Although we both were not professional artists, we both offered our own talents and strengths in sharing our craft.
When I had to leave the Ashram, this did not stop Kamal & Mac from expanding our vision.
Kamal took control and exercised his passionate initiative to continue the Mural in his own way. He took the lead and was able to work as a team in implementing his vision for the expansion of the mural.
The mural is above and beyond what we had initially envisioned. In the end, it turned out to be an inspiring tribute of its own of Kamal’s concepts of home & as a gift to his family. Though it was Mac and I who initiated a project, Kamal has put his heart into this piece and it is evident in how he took on different roles as a leader, a coordinator, and an artist.
Unraveling The Story
We proved that art is not just a tangible imprint in the community that we built but an evolved language of the different stories from the passing years that is evident by each Mural that is made in every Field School thus far. Art acts as a vessel in which helps to celebrate ones identity and ones voice. To the Ashram and Mount Royal University, it was in finding the voice of our community of supports. The mural became a message of unity and the characters, scenes, and depictions are a reflection of what the ashram is and has imparted onto us.
Defining Moments of Transformation
In the beginning of the project, I was so focused and determined to leave "something tangible" for the Ashram and that is my duty as a Field School student and despite having learnt about the concepts of "With, not for", I believed that was the only way to feel fulfilled. I was forgetting and losing my sense of purpose and why I came to India all together and that there is real and powerful difference between believing you are providing a service to a community and working as a collective for a bigger goal. I understood and appreciated what this meant but in the moment, I truly struggled in embodying the concept. It was not till I reflected back to one of the fundamental theories of my studies as a Child Studies student - Process over product. I was so concerned about the outcome and finishing the Mural that I was not not seeing what was happening before me.
Unbeknownst to me, I had become aloof to the unbelievable transformation that Kamal has achieved. He has grown so much as a person in discovering how own kind of leadership that allowed him to break out of his shell while still remaining true to his gentle nature. He became more confident in who he was and was able to break out of his shell in becoming more out going, engaging in activities that he has never done before or enough of and is now more open to share his opinion. The project gave him the right tools and the right medium for him to find himself, his voice. And that - to me, is the best lesson that the Ashram has imparted to me. An opportunity to witness and be apart of his transformation and to be able to recognize my own.
I would just like to extend my deepest gratitude and appreciation to the Sri Ram Ashram and to Mount Royal University for this incredible journey. I am so blessed to have been able to be a part of this experience and discovering significant aspects of who I am as a person and global citizen. My heart is so full of love and I only wish to be able to share this love through the creation of this site.
thank you all
& please visit the following sites for more in-depth insight and enjoy other projects of the Field School