More in Common

Cara Looij is a recent University of Manchester Drama and English Literature Graduate. Her interests lie in the facilitating of workshops and events across applied theatre, puppetry and multi-arts platforms with a commitment to social responsibility, inclusivity and enhancing wellbeing through the arts. In this visual blog she reflects on her experience on a recent Summer Arts College.

Over the past month I have had the privilege of working as the assistant arts practitioner at the Tameside Summer Arts College. The three weeks were curated TiPP in association with the Tameside Young Offending Team. I was asked by Simon to write a blog for the website. I don’t know how to write so I made a comic. 

On the way to my first day I was over thinking SO much that I crashed my bike. This was the first lesson I learnt. Don’t over think things. Just take it as it comes. 

The group was very behaviourally very challenging… You’re probably thinking that it’s because I’ve never experienced “difficult” young people. But I thought they were pretty tame in comparison to the class room behaviour of the school that I went to. Something that kept the group going through the hardest of times was their sense of humour… everyone knows how to laugh. We picked out particularly funny things that were said by group members and stuck them on the wall.

Going off from the previous chapter. I walked in on the first day with a veneer of professionalism. By the end of it, that pretence was gone. We were asking the same thing of them, for them to drop their inhibitions and “bad-boy/girl” exterior and reconnect with a curiosity and creativity which they probably last experienced in childhood. The route to this was through humour. 

I learnt far more from them than they did from me. I came into the room thinking that I was going to teach them something, and walked out having learnt more about life, people and art than I have over the course of 3 years in an arts degree. I learnt that it’s not about forcing them to do something that they don’t want to do- don’t force them to practice culture like you, rather help them to realise that they have their own culture, and it is valid. One of the young men wrote a very moving rap which was so honest. I didn’t have to be a poem to qualify as art. I walked into that room despairing over the fear of not being liked and walked out realising that we had so much in common, we are human, we can laugh and we can make. And that is enough.

Cara Looij