Oneness Simplified...!

Whenever I share my museum ventures with my acquaintances in India & New England, few common questions they pose are:

  • Why do some people spend so much of time in Volunteering?
  • Does one person's contribution matter really?
  • How are differences of opinion resolved in a non-profit setup?
  • What are the incentives for people to put in their energies & time week after week?
And my usual response to these Qns goes like "People are always the same everywhere. They do things that make sense to them w.r.t. their values, goals & motivations. True incentives for volunteers is usually HAPPINESS & I havn't yet come across a sincere volunteer who's NOT happy, happier or happiest as the case may be :). And yes amazing things can certainly be achieved with collective efforts".

Two interesting events happened earlier this week, that reinforced my belief of ONENESS. One - I moved in to this remarkably aesthetic (Thanks MJ & Henry!) house - the kind that gives you extremely +Ve vibes and two - I shadowed a memorable ESL tour at Danforth.

[Lynn with ESL students in Outspoken Exhibit]
Speaking of ESL-the acronym stands for English as a Second Language and comprises of people who are not native English speakers but try very hard to develop English language  proficiency. Now generally speaking learning English might would seem just like another task but when I participated in the ESL tour - I realized that it's not that easy after all. Due to limited exposure to English language, these students constantly look for avenues to stay in learning environment (evening schools, libraries, weekend classes etc) to build vocabularies, get a command on spoken English and practice lots.

In the tour I shadowed on Mar 31st, there were two ESL classes both comprising of cheerful students sincerely willing to invest their time to learn new words, interpret artworks and enjoy our tours. As Lynn began the tour in Masako Kamiya's gallery by probing students with "What's going on here?" & "Which masterpirce you like the most?"-the audience was engaged right away. Next she explained them what abstract art is in very simple & easy-to-understand English. As I stood their taking my notes-I could see students smiling, nodding heads & trying to absotb new words & art concepts.

After about 15 minutes, Lynn directed us all towards the Bridges Across Cultures gallery on 2nd floor and what was fun to observe was the emotional response of the students as they got off the elevator and walked in the gallery. Their instant reactions were-"Holaaaa-Waaaoow!", "Ahaaa", "Look at people", "Look at temple!", "Heyyy we have this in our country!" - in short everyone's face was lit up in this gallery.

15 minutes later, we walked into Danforth's permanent collection where the scale & realistic depiction of an important life event in the masterpiece titled "A Village Funeral in Brittany, 1891" by Charles Sprague Pearce held us all spellbound for several minutes. In the last 15 minutes of the tour, Lynn took us to Meta Fuller's gallery where we learned about sculpting process, Meta Fuller's life and the fact that Fuller Middle School in Framingham was named after this talented sculptress & her equally accomplished husband!

[ESL students with their pencils, drawing pads & passion!]
As the tour ended, Alex, teacher of one of the ESL group gave this drawing exercise to her group. The idea was to draw anything based on the tour they just participated in. Like myself, initially most of the students were surprised & hesitated in participating but with a little encouragement and plenty of pencils & drawing pad around (thanks to our volunteers!), everyone jumped right in to give their best shot at drawing. You can ascertain for yourself how engrossed students were. To me this was ONENESS in action-people from different ethnicities & socio-economic backgrounds under one umbrella working on a common interest(Art!)-it was just so nice to be present there observing how ART can make people do interesting things!

As we bid warm good-byes to ESL students & their teachers, we handed them FREE museum passes so that they can visit Danforth again with their families and join us in interpreting & enjoying ART! On behalf of our docent team (Lynn, Marty, Roseleen, Kathleen, Ellen, myself & our tours' orchestrator-Julia), I can declare that it was certainly an evening well spent :D Oh and in case ONENESS interests you as well, here are some non-art avenues who advocate & practice this principle of human connectedness- ONE.ORG, Oneness Univ, Global Oneness Project etc. 

I don't say everything, but I paint everything.~Pablo Picasso
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