We sit at a large rectangular table in the middle of a dark cool office. I stare at the pictures of at least a dozen kids faces plastered on a wall. Some are smiling. Some are serious. They are all Akanksha kids. “These faces remind me why we do this work”. For six days seven of us will be working with Art for Akanksha. On Friday afternoon, we went to visit their offices and learn what we would be doing with them.
The office buzzed with excitement. It was hip, modern, and open. Long tables were situated in the middle. Akanksha employees and volunteers worked at them with their computers. We were there for a few hours. We spoke with the director and then alone with each other planning some fun games to play with the children. The children, ages 12-15 are all Akanksha kids. They are affiliated with Akanksha either through attending one of the Akanksha schools or participating in one of the Akanksha after school programs. The enthusiasm of everyone in the office was apparent to me. It was also contagious. As they spoke, I became excited to get to work.
We moved into the dark cool office. We listened to a briefing of Akanksha and then a presentation of Art for Akanksha. When speaking of the program, one of the women we will be working with, Sia remarked, “We want the kids to dream big”.
Dream BIG. This got me thinking. My mother’s advice to me growing up was to always dream BIG. I did. I dreamed of the day I would be a professional ballerina with a major ballet company. I dreamed of the day I would be president of the United States. I dreamed of the day I would save the world. My dreams were lofty. They could easily be consider unachievable. As cliche as it might be, dreaming BIG reminds me of a quote by Les Brown: “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars”.
This has been my experience. In striving to achieve my dreams I have had experiences that I might not have otherwise. Even if I am not a professional ballerina, president of the United States, or I don’t save the world, I can make an impact trying. For instance, Dancing has given me a close group of friends and an art through which to express myself. While I might not save the entire world, I can do my part in my own area. It is not all or nothing. It is not black and white. Sometimes the road to the dream is just as good as the dream itself.
Dreaming BIG has been important in my own life. In the same way, I believe it is important for the Akanksha kids. Art for Akanksha gives them a tangible way for them to dream BIG. It allows kids who are talented and excited about art to pursue their passion. The program is also designed to teach kids how to be artists as a profession. The kids can aspire to something that could previously been thought as out of the question. As I see it, Art for Akanksha inspires children to dream BIG.
Even if the kids in the program do not become professional artists it is okay. By doing the program they will have already achieved something. They will have learned and practiced a new form of expression. They will have an outlet through which to reveal themselves and learn about their identities. Art, as dance, as been important in my own life. It has given me all of these things. My hope is that art gives them what dance gave me, an outlet to express my feelings and emotions, something to create, and lifelong friends. My hope is that Art for Akanksha will give these kids the courage to dream BIG.
As I stare at the faces on the wall, I feel hopeful. I am excited about Akanksha. I believe in what they are doing. I can’t wait to work with them tomorrow.