Young Lions: Postcard Making (DRAFT)

Hello! Every Tuesday ARI works with Young Lions. This week I took the opportunity to work with them. For the activity, they made personal postcards. They decorated the front in any way. On the back I had them write to their family. They could write wh

Wat Muen Nung Kong_Koinobori Holiday: Carp (NOT FINISHED)

Hello! So, I conducted a workshop at Wat Muen Nung Kong on Thursday July 23rd. I chose to do a holiday in Japan--Koinobori. It is an annual holiday celebrating children's day. During this holiday, the children will make carps and put it up on their rooftop. There are also colors associated with the family. Black is for the father carp, red or sometimes altered with pink is for the mother, and the children could be any other color.


Thai Freedom House: "Invisible" Drawing & Name in Block Letters

On Monday July 13 at Thai Freedom House, the kids (6-15 years old) made “invisible” drawings for part of the drawing unit. They used pen to draw a picture of anything they wished, then filled it in—inside and outside—with designs. The picture is suppose to look “invisible” from a certain distance away, but when observed, it is an actual photo of something. For this activity, most students drew animals or various designs.

For the second activity, the students wrote their name—using the alphabet letters—in block letters. For every letter in their name, they had to come up with an English word that starts with that letter. I chose to do this activity so that they would have a chance to use or reflect on their English skills. 

It was fun doing the second activity and the students seemed to like it. They put in a lot of effort and thinking about English words that they could use do decorate their name. It was also a good opportunity for us to interact with them more using English when helping them find words that started with a specific letter. Overall, they were very active and creative!


CD Mandalas at Urban Light

Whenever I’m upset, my mom always tells me to take a hot bath. It’s true that there are very few problems that can’t be solved by this simple antidote, but there are other (dryer) ways to find some inner peace and quiet. For me, these are art and music, so I combined both of them into the activity I led at Urban Light last week: CD Mandalas.

To make the mandalas, we painted old CDs entirely black, revealing our designs by scraping dried paint away with a wooden skewer (a lot like scratch art.) The concept is simple but completely addictive, and I spent at least two hours making my example for the workshop. However, while some of the boys found the activity as entrancing as I did, one of the tubes of black paint was a dud, and half the group had a slightly more frustrating than relaxing time trying to scratch their paint away. But putting all supply malfunctions aside, the workshop was a hit. One of the boys made not just one, but two CDs, a noteworthy act for the members of this particular group, who don’t always engage during workshops. 

Once everyone finished their CDs, we strung them up to make a mobile that cast rainbow shadows across the wall when held up to sunlight. On a small piece of paper suspended beneath their CD, each boy also wrote their favorite song and song lyric, so that their piece was a reflection of both their artistic and musical tastes. I really wished I could have read Thai for this workshop, as I’m sure there were some interesting stories behind their song selections. But I didn’t need Thai to read the smiles on the boys’ faces as we held up our completed mobile, which they each had a hand in making. While music and art go with brooding solitude like peanut butter and jelly, they also have the capability to bring us together.


Mood Clocks

Juvenile Detention Center

It was a quiet afternoon during my workshop at Juvenile Detention Center as the students created their mood clocks. My project was to have the participants think of some of their most common emotions and draw picture representations of each emotion around a clock in place of the numbers. We encouraged them to use any image they wanted to represent their emotions. They also decorated their clocks with gears making them unique and inventive.

The use of water color paint was added to each clock to help release the emotion they were feeling and to make their work more dramatic. After the paint dried, the students cut out arrow hands and pierced them through their clock with paper fasteners. This way, they could turn the hands to any emotion and have their friends guess what they were feeling.

The students had fun and worked hard to create their clocks using the full 2 hours, staying focused on the activity. 

Nicole Breiner


Hello :)

My name is Linda, hailing from the Land of Green, also known as the Emerald Isle or better known as Ireland but formerly known as Eire in our native language Gaelic. I'm currently a fine art student about to progress onto my final year of study. I have been awarded a volunteer abroad scholarship from my university and will be volunteering here for a month. I arrived in Chiang Mai on Sunday the 7th of July and have been adjusting to the HOT climate and the wonderful culture these past few days.

Monday began with an introduction to CCT (Cultural Canvas Thailand) and Tuesday with an introduction to ARI (Art Relief International). Both are very relaxed and informative. There are four volunteers starting their volunteering this week as well as myself, they are Donna, Jennie and Vanessa. Altogether there's 11 volunteers working with ARI so we've a full house and hopefully this will lead to some very productive and fun workshops.

Today began with a joyful workshop at Hope Home which we will be visiting weekly every Wednesday. The day is ending with this blog post along with some photographs of my environment so far.

P.s. I left my bank card in the atm machine in Chiang Mai after being in the country for five minutes. I don't like telling people what to do but I recommend not doing this. You will regret it.

The Office

The House

Never-Sent Postcards with Urban Light

How often do we surrender our speech?  Perhaps, we fear the repercussions of our words... or maybe, we miss the opportunities to voice thoughts and feelings we intended to share.  Usually, these scenarios are forgotten and excused as trivial matters.  However, in some extreme cases, these instances result in bottled up emotions that can subconsciously affect day to day behavior.  Research shows that self-expression is key to having a healthy mentality. One way to practice self-expression is through narrative writing. I took my knowledge of narrative interventions from working with Dr. Sabir and applied it to this workshop for Urban Light, an organization with a mission to end sexual exploitation of boys in Thailand.

In this workshop, Urban Light members were given a task to design postcards that will never be sent.  I prepared magazines, markers, scissors, glue, and pens as materials to create a collage that would depict their "Perfect Day" or "Perfect Place" on one side of the postcard. On the reverse side, the prompt was to write a letter saying something you've always wanted to say to someone but couldn't, or didn't have the chance to.  The workshop's main objective was to invoke freedom of expression in Urban Light and hopefully provide mental release to the participants.

At first, I was a bit nervous because I wasn't sure how they would respond to the activity... but as I glanced across the balcony and saw the boys curiously listening to the prompt in Thai translation, I felt excited.  Papers and markers were shuffled around and the boys seemed eager to find their "perfect place/day" between the pages of the magazines; so much so that I could hear nothing but the sound of flipping pages.

About 45 minutes into the workshop, I noticed one man cutting and pasting photos of cute baby girls with a rainbow backdrop. When we asked what his postcard meant, he described that it was for his daughter and that he wanted her to grow up in a colorful world full of joy and happiness. It was a touching moment.

Another boy, spent the entire time working on his collage of his perfect place.

Sometimes, people just need an opportunity for self-expression and to speak what is on their minds.  Sometimes, these thoughts don't necessarily translate into words and that is why art is an extremely powerful tool.


My Last Workshop--Rainbow Noodles with Hope Home

On Wednesday at Hope Home, the kids got to do something that adults tell children not to do all the time—play with their food! For the adorable and always-entertaining kids at Hope Home, it’s always a blast to experiment with unconventional toys while also engaging in some sensory exploration. That’s why I wanted to make sure I designed something extra special for my last workshop both with Hope Home and ARI, something that the kids would surely remember. I decided to conduct a “rainbow noodles” workshop in which the kids would use their hands and feet to play with mushy, gushy pasta that was dyed three different colors. With varying consistencies of the pasta and three types of noodles, I knew there would be plenty for the children to explore.

Upon arrival at Hope Home we sat with the children and made sure they were comfortable and ready to play. We even had a new friend who had arrived at Hope Home only days before, so it instantly lifted our spirits to know that we could share our sensory activity with another adorable child. After playing with rice shakers and toy trains and feathery boas, I set up the workshop, putting different colors and types of noodles into three bowls to be passed around amongst the kids. I had no idea what to expect; maybe the kids would hate the feeling of the noodles and reject them completely. But what I found was that they couldn’t get enough!

Dontri went bananas for the noodles, loving every minute his hands and feet were squashing the pasta. He wiggled around on the ground and scratched his head, a clear indication of excitement, and he smiled and laughed louder than I’ve ever heard from him. I felt so relieved. We never know how Dontri will react to an activity, and on Wednesday, he was all over it! Laap enjoyed grasping for the noodles as well (when he wasn’t dozing off into a deep sleep). Practicing his fine motor skills, he crushed the pasta in his fists.  Suki had a blast playing with Pepo, draping the noodles over her like jewelry and helping me meticulously clean the bowl when the activity was finished. She must have liked the smell of the noodles, too, because she even tried to eat them! Yindee jammed out to music and was in a great mood, lying back and relaxing with her feet in the bowl of noodles as if she were at a spa.

   Overall the workshop was a true crowd-pleaser. As my last of many, it’s bittersweet to know that my work here is wrapping up. I’m excited to go home, but leaving behind incredible places like Hope Home won’t be easy.

Where'd all the time go,


Meet Jennie!

Hello, all!

I'm Jennie, coming to you from the Midwest of the United States. My family lives in Nebraska, while I attend Abilene Christian University in Texas. Next year, I'll finish my undergrad degree, graduating with a BFA in two dimensional studio art with minors in Psychology and Graphic Design.

Initially, this adventure with ARI and Thailand started with a Google search in February, so the fact that I'm here today is nothing short of amazing!

My journey to Chiang Mai and ARI started with an interest in pursuing graduate work in Art Therapy and a desire to learn in cultures and communities different than my own. Before committing to grad school, I figured I should get some experience in the field and ARI seemed like the perfect place to start!

While here, I'm also doing a bit of research for a Cross-Cultural Psychology project I'm working on, so this trip encompasses academics, service, art, adorable kids, and travel; I couldn't be more excited or grateful to be here!

Before I go, I want to thank the Honors College at my university, the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program, and the wonderful individuals who have so generously funded my trip; I wouldn't be here without you!

Thanks for reading! Looking forward to the next 5 weeks!

Hello, i'm Donna!

Hi I'm Donna and i'm from the southern county of Cork, Ireland, where I am currently working towards a BA in Fine Art. After my degree I hope to continue to do the masters in Art Therapy, so when I received an email from my college societies officer calling for applications to a volunteer abroad scholarship programme I made sure to apply to work with Art Relief.    

As you can tell, I was offered a place on the programme, woohoo! I arrived in Chiang Mai after a long 20 hour journey on  Sunday the 7th of July. I anticipated a bit of jet lag and culture shock in my first week here though I have been lucky to be effected by neither, I'm full of energy and am amazed by the Thai culture! The people I have met here have been nothing but helpful and friendly, and the food is so good.

 I am super excited to work within the various environments that Art Relief has to offer and I really feel like the programme ensures that I can work within my particular areas of interest, which is great for building the experience necessary to participate in my desired masters programme back home. I am so thrilled to be here and am delighted to be working with such a lovely group of people!

 I will make sure to check back in over the coming weeks to talk further about my experience here. Toodle-oo!

ARI Takes a Field Trip to Phrao to visit Warm Heart Foundation

            Chiang Mai is home to some wonderful people and talented artists; with all of our partner organizations, we are never lacking incredible friends to spend hours with at our workshops around the city! But Chiang Mai isn’t the only place where Art Relief International can make a difference. There are communities all around Thailand for whom art can be a means of relief, and on Sunday we set out to bring art outside the hustle and bustle of the city. Claire, another volunteer, and I have friends from university who are working at Warm Heart Foundation, a children’s home, near the district of Phrao, about a two-hour drive from Chiang Mai. We figured that it would be both fun and rewarding to spend a day at Warm Heart making art, so we ARI volunteers piled into a van on Sunday morning, and off we went!

            As soon as we arrived we knew we had made a great decision taking this field trip. The kids were chock-full of energy, respectful, and eager to see what we would be making that day. Our first project was a hot-air balloon mobile, a collaborative project in which each child would decorate a paper balloon and write what they wanted to be when they grew up on the basket. The kids went to work right away, doodling on their balloon templates, gluing magazine cutouts and beads to them, and using every color under the sun to personalize their pieces. One by one the children approached the volunteers with their finished masterpieces, and we would help them punch holes in their balloons so we could hang them from a picture frame with fishing wire. At the end, we had around 30 balloons that looked as if they were suspended in midair, making their ascent into the bright blue sky. The balloons were meant to represent the kids’ aspirations for the future, and they dreamed of being doctors, teachers, and even policemen. These Warm Heart children really had their sights set way high up—in the clouds!

            After our lunch break, we gathered again for our second workshop of the day. The smiles we saw during the making of the mobile told us that the kids were engaged in and enthused about art, so we were excited to present the next activity—a group mandala board. Each artist received a half of a circle on a white piece of paper, and the instructions were vague: fill in the circle with whatever design you choose. We wanted the kids not to be inhibited by any sorts of rules or regulations, so we set them loose with a handful of materials to make whatever their hearts desired, knowing that we would combine all their creations on one board at the end.

 Equipped with watercolor paint, markers, colored pencils, pens, and more, the Warm Heart kids really channeled their inner zen and drew whimsical swirls, stripes, polka dots—anything I could think of, they had added to their mandalas. As they finished up, they cut their semi-circles in half, keeping one square for themselves and gluing one to the big board we had brought. The end product was something to truly be proud of; each child had contributed, and you could see all the hard work and personalization that had gone into the mandalas.

            All the volunteers were so excited to spend the day exploring outside the city, and the fact that the Warm Heart children engaged in the activity in such a fun way only added to what were two stellar workshops! It just goes to show that there’s joy to be shared through art anywhere, no matter how far from home you are!

Ba da da da da, I'm lovin' it,