Drawn to Listen

by Laura

As a student new to UBC, and a wide-eyed new resident of Vancouver, I spent my first few months here seeking a way to feel connected to my new home. I came upon the Learning Exchange when I was first considering attending UBC and found it a very unique and beneficial feature of the university, in its direct engagement with an aspect of the surrounding community.

The location of the Exchange provides me with an opportunity to explore off-campus Vancouver and have a chance to engage with spectacular people I would otherwise not meet. Although I was unsure of my ability to contribute to this particular volunteer environment, the unbelievably supportive staff gave me the confidence to explore areas of volunteering which I would not have thought to previously pursue. Working alongside Pedro in the implementation of his drawing class at the Learning Exchange has provided me with countless unexpected understandings.

Pedro’s artistically driven perspective of the world is the foundation for his teaching, providing the students with a viewpoint they are then able to adopt and use in their learning. Through an emphasis on patience and commitment, Pedro has led his students to realize the artistic ability they possessed before the class even began. Guided by care and individual attention, I have had the chance of watching the students excel under Pedro’s gifted teaching.

Most of all, Pedro has created a space for the potential of art to initiate conversation. Although not artistically trained myself, I have the opportunity to simply listen at the Learning Exchange. The stories and comments invoked by the student’s artistic experience have provided me with a feeling of belonging and attachment to the individuals, the Learning Exchange, and even greater, the city of Vancouver. I have been able to watch this cooperative learning environment, under Pedro’s vision, give students the confidence and understanding to turn hesitation to artistic courage, as well as find that sort of courage in myself.

Laura is a 2nd Year, UBC Anthropology/African Studies student who volunteered to help with the introductory drawing workshop.

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