Seventh grade artists recently worked with their art and history teachers to participate in the Memory Project, a nonprofit organization that invites art teachers and their students to create portraits for youth around the world who have faced substantial challenges.
Each Parker student received a photo of a Rohingya child from Myanmar (ages 4–11) who currently lives in a Bangladesh refugee camp. Members of the Memory Project took the photos and provided them to art teacher Caroline Gardner for this project upon her request.
History teacher Anthony Shaker led the students in locating Myanmar on a map and considering what it means to be a refugee. Students learned that the Rohingya are an ethnic group, the majority of whom are Muslim, and about 1.1 million have lived for centuries in predominantly Buddhist Myanmar, a Southeast Asian country.
In art class, Gardner distributed the Rohingyan portraits and shared the featured child’s name, age and favorite color with her students, shared in materials from the Memory Project. Parker students worked diligently to produce hand-drawn portraits of each child’s photo with a background reflecting the child’s favorite color and included photos of themselves with a short note on the back of each piece.
The class will mail 18 of these portraits, along with the original images, photos and notes from Parker students, to students in Rakhine Myanmar after December Recess. In the end, these portraits serve to help children feel valued and important, know that many people care about their well-being and have a special childhood memory in the future.