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Marysville students participate in Memory Project


November 22, 2017 | View PDF

Courtesy Photo

Cedarcrest Middle School students Max Samofal and Anthony Najera draw a portrait as part of the Memory Project.

Students at Cedarcrest Middle School drew pictures of children from the Philippines as part of the Memory Project this November.

The Memory Project is a nonprofit organization that connects local children to children in impoverished countries to help make portrait drawings.

"Usually these are children who are in orphanages or have gone through trauma or neglect because of war," said Laurie Shiver, art teacher at Cedarcrest Middle School.

The portraits are shipped to the children so that they have a keepsake of themselves and in an effort to show that they are valued.

"Most are very poor so this might be one of the only pictures that they end up having of their youth," said Shiver.

Classrooms are also given a video about the area where their pictures are going.

This year Shiver's students drew children from the Philippines and the video featured children digging through trash to find items to sell and wading in water up to their neck.

"The population is so dense there and the resources are so scarce," said Shiver. "It's a very, very harsh living there."

Shiver said she has taught in some high-need areas around the U.S. where some students "had never even seen an elevator," but to see children in even greater need helps students care more about the greater world, she said.

It also helps students think about the various cultures that exist outside of their own experiences.

"The only world they know is what they see around them," said Shiver. "This helps students feel connected to the broader world."

Seeing other children from around the world also helps local students care more about what is happening in foreign countries.

"I love seeing the empathy that the kids have," said Shiver. "They were very motivated after seeing this video."

This is the first year that Shiver has been a part of the Marysville School District and the first, as a teacher, she has been "methodically monitoring the growth of the students," when it comes to drawing, she said.

The Memory Project portraits were incorporated into learning art skills.

Courtesy Photo

Cedarcrest Middle School students Ava Camillone and Diana Mihai look over their portraits that are part of the Memory Project, which connects U.S. students with foreign children to provide portraits to children in impoverished countries.

"There have been so many steps and skills, but they've just plugged away at all of them," she said.

"I've heard many saying how much their skills improved and telling me that this is the best drawing they had ever done," she said.

Some students even took pictures of their portraits with their phones so they could remember their work.

"The fact that some of these students are giving their best drawing they've ever done away, that can be a big ask," she said.

The Memory Project also sends back a video of some of the children receiving their portraits as well.

Last year, when Shiver taught in Philadelphia, one of the children featured was one that her student had drawn.

"Last year one of my students saw his kid get the drawing," she said. "He was just knocked-out thrilled."

Shiver said this year's drawings are being shipped now and she looks forward to seeing the Filipino children receive their portraits.


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