Moe Maung Maung, Burma, East Tennessee State University: One of my goals for applying to the Global UGRAD Program was that I wanted to re-start something I stopped doing – drawing. Due to some conditions, I had put aside drawing for many days, months, and years. However, I have been drawing again for one and a half months at ETSU. My drawing class is really amusing and entertaining. In the last Skype call, I told my advisor that the class was an oasis for me in the middle of the very academic and stressful courses and we both laughed. I hope you could imagine how much fun this class is since we were laughing even talking about it.
Mr. Lawrence V. Reid, my instructor, is very kind to all his procrastinating students. Even though I wrongly submitted a drawing assignment one time, he gave me a second chance. What a wonderful teacher! I got a certain intimacy with my classmates through the activities called Blind Contour Portrait Drawing where we drew each other’s faces by looking at one another the whole time and without looking at the paper! All the drawings at the end did not look like a human face. They looked more like alien faces. We laughed by looking at each other’s drawing. One of the things I like about this class is we laugh, smile, and share happiness together. After I got back to drawing, blind contour helped me to improve my visual skills very quickly. Even though my drawings are not exhibition-worthy, I am very happy with them. I am loving the movement of the pencil on the paper. It is taking me back to my childhood and I cannot stop feeling nostalgic. I very much appreciate all of the people who helped make this class possible for me, especially the U.S. Department of State and World Learning.
Ali Al Bana, Bahrain, University of Missouri – Columbia: It’s commonly said that art is universal, but I beg to differ and say that art is quite personal – it is perceived with an individualistic sense of thought and emotional attribute. During my time at the University of Missouri in Columbia, I’ve taken classes that further support my statement. Classes like “Anatomical Drawing” showed me that we tend to emphasize on the body and its various curves through our own physical insecurities, while classes like “Appreciation of Art” taught me how the simultaneous presence of perception and narrative within art elevates an art piece, regardless of its scale. In “The Graphic Novel” class, I’ve learned that a picture is louder than words and can make twice the impact. My classes gave me a broader scope on the type of themes I can involve in my future artwork. In combination with my classes, the visual feast that the museums and lifestyle I experienced in Washington, DC surely has my hands, and mind, on creative overdrive.
Walter Gonzalez Baez, Nicaragua, University of Southern Indiana: I want to say that I am so thankful and glad for being a Global UGRAD. The Global UGRAD Program gave me the chance to experience the American culture in a way that is not told in movies, one of which was the chance to get involved in a drawing class at the University of Southern Indiana. Drawing has been very special for me since I am a visual learner. However, I never had the chance to take a drawing class since it is not within my major. Moreover, I enjoy drawing but I did not have good drawing materials. However, all this changed since I became part of the Global UGRAD Program. On March 27th, I submitted two of my drawings to a Student Art Show at the university. One of them was chosen and it will be exhibited during the month of April.
Drawing inspired me to create a program to help children and citizens in my hometown. By sharing my drawing skills and art knowledge, I plan to work with children from the orphanage so that they can make their own artwork. The artwork will be printed on posters, books, or T-shirts. This way, children will develop their skills and love for art and people will find a special meaning behind what they buy. Thank you so much again for giving me the chance to be a Global UGRAD! Because once a Global UGRAD, always a Global UGRAD!