Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Know any teachers? or Students? of course you do! (I hope!)

Hi everyone. Sorry for the delay of several days now since my last posting but I have had several performances in the interim - as singer, pianist, and/or conductor - in different venues. I really appreciate all of you who have taken the time to share your comments on my first posting, and am especially grateful for your enthusiastic encouragement for our mission!

Speaking of that "mission", I will be writing from Geneva (Switzerland) next week! I will be there February 22-28 for a variety of meetings with individuals, organisations, NGOs, UN-related offices, and potential funders for our projects. I have also been asked to speak at an international conference there, about the creation of online communities and cybervolunteering as a way to improve cross-cultural sharing and human rights issues. Since Listen for Life, the global non-profit that I founded, has projects or affiliates in 45 countries worldwide, we are endeavoring to set a real model for cybervolunteering (as well as on-the-ground teams in each location, of course).

I mention this trip to Geneva in particular, today, because I want to tell you about one of the organisations there that we are working with. They are called GenevaWorld and they have a beautiful website (well, in my opinion anyway) in both French and English at www.genevaworld.com ...There you can find a separate section about their "191" project - a group of 191 art works created by children around the world, expressing their own cultural views to the world and to each other - with the intention of touring this exhibit worldwide and letting the youth inspire the adults towards a desire for unity.

Listen for Life has now committed to organising some music from all of these same cultures/countries to be performed at each exhibit location worldwide, including some representative youth performers on each concert. And we have received one generous offer of a host venue for this touring "191" exhibit (and concert) in the USA, for which the GenevaWorld directors are very grateful - and they will be even more excited, I know, if more significant host venues are forthcoming so that people across North America can be made aware of the project.

But that is not the main purpose of my writing this post today. Jean Cordey, the GenevaWorld founder, is a wonderful visionary, constantly seeking ways to let children and youth be the inspiration and driving force for peace and cross-cultural understanding. He is launching a new project and touring exhibition this year, similar to "191" but with a different focus and theme - that of "Children's Views of Child Labour".
To quote him directly:
"We are looking for children (maximum 16 yrs) from all over the world, who are or have been child workers - as well as children who have never been exploited in this way, {but will hopefully have learned about the issue in school from their teachers} - to express their feelings, and share their suffering and/or hope, through their artworks".

There is more specific information about the Child Labour project on the GenevaWorld website, of course, but the important thing to note is that the deadline for receiving the artwork in Geneva is March 31, 2009. That is only 6 weeks from today. Jean tells me that they have activated their own network of correspondents, schools, and teachers throughout the world and they have already received many many drawings....but they can only choose one or two from each country that are submitted, because ideally they want to have representation from each country and culture of the globe in the final exhibits. However, they do not have many contacts in North America and they would ideally like to have 100-150 drawings from this region to choose from, so Jean asked me to get the invitation out to as many teachers/students as I can, as quickly as I can! (there are also some other specific regions where he has fewer contacts, so if you are reading this blog from a location that you suspect may not be included in his current submissions, by all means contact him - or me).....

There were some inspiring discussions that arose from my last posting, about music teachers and the pivotal role they can sometimes (even unknowingly) play in the lives of individuals. In matters of sociology, citizenship, or cultural understanding, parents and teachers (whether in a classroom or home-school environment) again play a pivotal role in creating opportunities for discussions that raise awareness of critical issues around the globe. Both the youth and adults in North America can sometimes run the risk of being isolated from news about human rights or cultural issues that, at first glance, may not seem to affect their lives directly - but once the students learn that their peers in other countries do experience a direct impact from these injustices, then the students in general tend to respond very strongly and with a very empathetic desire to DO something. If we , around the world, can use art and music to harness that instinctive and generous response to action, then Jean Cordey believes that global change on these issues can occur - and more quickly than any governmental bodies would be able to inspire. Don't you agree?

SO- if you know any children up to age 16, or know any teachers (of any subject) with access to students up to age 16, please encourage them to discuss the issue of child labour- its existence, its causes, its impact on the lives of these youth - and to check out the GenevaWorld website for more information on the type of art works being requested, as well as the address and instructions for mailing them.
And once all of the artworks have been submitted in March, and 1-2 have been selected from each country, culture, and age group for the exhibit locations in Geneva and elsewhere, then you are also invited to tell me/us of gifted young musicians whom you might know from each culture, as we begin to plan the cross-cultural music performances that will accompany these powerfully emotive artworks, wherever possible.

Have any of you been directly impacted by child labour issues or experiences, and in what country/culture? I know that we are certainly not immune to these challenges in North America, even if it is less prevalent, obvious, or accepted.

There is an increasing use of music or art as "therapy" to encourage and help people of all ages to express their subconscious feelings about an experience or situation. All art forms can provide a powerful outlet for non-verbal communication, without any need for special skills or years of training in order to benefit from the activity. Some of us probably respond more to music, and others to visual art, while others are helped more by dance and physical movement. General wisdom holds that music is a more "universal" language for use in therapy of this sort, but I am sure each of the art forms will have its supporters. Any thoughts or experiences you would like to share or discuss?


  1. This would be an interesting assignment to pose to my students...I'll see if/how I can work it in.

  2. Oh my goodness, this sounds amazing! Do you know where the exhibit will be? I hope all is well in Geneva. It is great that there is a venue for youth to be a part of the public eye and make people aware.

  3. Hello Aldyn - and Alex too.
    I just heard again today from Jean Cordey and his assistant in Geneva, and they are very concerned because the deadline for receiving artworks for this new project is in a few days' time - any submitted drawings have to be received IN Geneva by March 31st......and they have been receiving hundreds of drawings from all over the world, but NONE - not a single one - from the USA!

    Needless to say I feel rather ineffective as I promised them we could help get the word out, as their only contacts in America!
    SO please remind everyone - parents, teachers, budding artists - that it is not too late and it is a very exciting opportunity for a 6-16 year old to have his or her drawing published in a gorgeous professionally-done "coffee-table" size Art book. I have seen the book that was published from the last project and exhibition and it is stunning.
    For this new project on Child Labour, the inaugural exhibit will be in Washington DC in May of this year! Then in Geneva, related to UN events. And then it will go on tour!