The service event I chose to attend for this semester was the CRIS Mural Painting, which took place at the Columbus Global Academy on December 1st. During this event, the International Scholars were asked to design and paint a mural in the school, which provides an ESL program for immigrant students here in Columbus.
The CRIS mentorship program is particularly meaningful to me, as I have my own mentee; a young man from Sudan. The program helps connect these kids with students who have a desire to help them transition culturally into the United States, provide assistance with language, and overall be a companion and friend to them. CRIS works with a lot of children who go to Global Academy, so naturally I volunteered to help paint the mural in the school.
The mural is on the outside wall of the library; on one wall, the word library is translated into multiple different languages and painted on the wall. The main portion of the mural features animals from different stories or fables that have varying origins of countries that represent students attending the Academy.
I arrived and immediately we got to work. It was a fun work environment; we played music on a bluetooth speaker and chatted lightly as we worked. Most of us were painting larger portions of the mural that required less precision; the blue of the sky, and the green of the grass. Some of the more skilled artists did more of the detail work such as a fox’s face or a serpent’s tongue.
I enjoyed painting the mural, because painting is not one of my particular strong suits. As a business major, I do not get that many opportunities for creative outlets. In addition, most of my creative abilities lie within singing and theater, so to be able to explore the world of physical art and watch the students who created the mural at work was particularly inspiring. The ladies who created the mural all made drafts of the sketch, and they were combined digitally into the final piece. Then, it was sketched on the wall and we approached a “paint-by-numbers” technique where different portions called for different colors.
The mural serves as a visual representation of what a library is meant to be (especially to younger children) ; a room filled with books that contain myriad stories and information. Some of the students might be intimidated by the English language and shy away from speaking or reading, but this mural provides a colorful illustration of the surprises that await them in the books. The translations of the word “library” in different languages also facilitates this, as kids can find the word that they are familiar with and make a connection to it and thus, perhaps learn a new word simply from viewing the mural.
My hope would be that the mural would be a vibrant and intriguing advertisement of sorts that would pique the interest of the students and entice them to visit and pick up a book so that they could find reading fun, and thus improve their command of the English language.