Updated Mural Handbook!

A few months have passed, and I have finally finished an updated version of the mural handbook.  The new version includes:

  • updated tips for trainers
  • background on Laos/the Secret War
  • how to get the money/legal issues section
  • more educational resources
  • and better grammar/spelling!

Download the large (high resolution/quality) PDF here – for those with fast internet/lots of patience.  (22 mb)

Downlaod the small (low resolution/quality) version here – for those with slow internet. (1.8 mb)

Please contact me with any questions, feedback, or ideas!

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Stories of the 2 new art workshop participants, Sompan and Ya Vue

Sompan is 7 or 8 years old and from Ban Dong, Paek District.  He had the accident on 17/12/2009.  He was at school.  After lunch he found a small piece of metal he did not think was a cluster bomb.  When he struck it, it exploded.  Sompan was very talented, with an impish smile and a love of drawing bombies in nature.   He got fairly brave at answering questions and volunteering to play games by the end of the week!  He was a little bit excluded in the group of boys as he didn’t speak Hmong, but he held his own and made some great work.

Ya Vue is 8 years old, from Ban Ngoil, Paek District.  He was injured on 13 August 2008 in the same accident that injured Huagku, when he and his 4 friends were going to find scrap metal to sell. One of the boy picked up a cluster bomb and hit it near a fish pool, where it exploded.   Two boys were killed and three were injured.  I later learned that a woman picked up Ya Vue and Huagku and carried them all the way to the hospital on her back and that is why they survived.  Ya Vue was the naughtiest and the bravest little boy, always ready with a joke, and he looked up to Xue Yee very much.

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Mural Handbook – the final export of the first draft!

Here is a downloadable PDF (high resolution) of the Mural/Art Workshop Handbook I created of the art-warmups, games, activities, tips and pitfalls/how to avoid them, an art workshop sample curriculum, a mural workshop sample curriculum, budgeting, documentation, and more.  I wrote it mainly for staff at World Education/other organizations already doing UXO education, so don’t expect too much background information on UXO or mine risk education.

And here it is in low-resolution (for slow internet connections)!

*Expect a second version soon!*

Please contact me if you have any questions, ideas, or feedback, or if you want the original files for translation.  lisa [at] lisanowlain [dot] com

Big thanks to Da Chang, Bounmi, Barbara, Mark, Vongdala, Tounmi, Phadsada, Bounsong, Bounxeuy, Tor, Viengmany, Hua Lor, Bouaphone, Abby, Andy, Tabea, Mr. Khammanh, Shannon Dorsey, Sombath Somphone, Chantalangsy, Kolaka, Ding, Dtai, my mom, and of course Arnouson, Mailawr, Daeng, Jalaw, Yakguh, Yangkuh, Huagku, Ya Vue, Sipai, Sawnaly, Phet, Xue Yee, Sompan, and the students at Sisatannak Secondary School and Don Noune Secondary School in Vientiane.  And to Precita Eyes (Missy, Brenda, Susan), Ellie/Mollie/Jess/Bri, Colleen, Khiang Hei, Jamie Henderson and Evan Bissell for inspiration/guidance.

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Mural #4 – UXO Education Mural – Xieng Khouang Final Art Images!

View a slideshow here of the students work.  Some great stuff!  Don’t forget to click on “Show Info” in the right-hand corner.

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Mural #4 – UXO Education Mural – Xieng Khouang Post-Mural Workshop Installation, etc

After the workshop, Abby and I worked on mounting the murals.  We bought wood to around the back and then hammered from the front, using small nails and wire to hang them.  This gave them enough support that they didn’t bend and allowed us to hang them!

I also painted over the murals with ATM Acrylic Latex Adhesive to keep them from getting hurt/water-damaged in this humid climate.  We’ll see how they hold up.  I put three coats on the one going outside and two on the others.

I’m going to frame their sketches and some of their drawings as well!

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Mural #4 – UXO Education Mural – Xieng Khouang Mural Workshop Day 5

The last day!  So bittersweet, as the students have really warmed up to me and to being creative.  They are really drawing and letting loose, and even though presenting their work at the end of the day is still a challenge, they have gotten much more confident!

You can download a document with the 5-day mural workshop lesson plans here.  Look out for a more extensive handbook coming soon!

1.  We went on a field trip to the Plain of Jars and spent a couple hours drawing and wandering around.  The students really took to landscape drawings and split off on their own to sketch.

When we came back, they were so brave about sharing their drawings, I think they were very proud.

Picture by Barbara Lewis


picture by barbara lewis


We did some sketchbook making out of scratch paper and talked about free materials they can use. (Thanks Nick and Abby!)

After lunch we played Exquisite Corpse for an hour, and they truly got creative and laughed so much!

One of our lunches. Thanks Buaphone for knowing where to go.

Then we had a final party where their parents and some folks from around town came, ate snacks, and drank.  I made up some certificates for the students, gave a small speech and spoke about each student’s work, and then had each group present their paintings to the audience – and some groups actually talked about their work!

picture by barbara lewis

And then they were gone!  I’m very sad and will miss them a lot.  I was very impressed by their groupwork, and it was so sweet: when I asked them what they wanted to do that day, they would confer amongst each other before giving a short answer.  I really hope that they continue to draw and feel good doing it, that they will continue to connect with each other, and their parents continue to connect as well.

It’s so crazy to think that I will never see these students again most likely, but that I could learn to care for them so much this week:

  • The twins Sawnaly and Sipai, who both looked at me so seriously until I smiled back and they broke into the most beautiful smiles.
  • Huagku, so serious and quiet, with deep ideas that came out slowly.
  • Xue Yee, kind and a bit older, slow to speak but fairly free with play, who started talking to me by the end of the week.  Drew very seriously.
  • Phet, a teenage girl, smart and talented.
  • Yangkuh, a leader (when I asked kids to do self-portraits, she ended up drawing 3 out of 4 of the girls’ portraits for them before I caught her!) and talented artist, I think she truly loves art and is committed to it.
  • Sompan, a tiny cutie with a sweet streak.  He would get bored easily and loved to draw bombies.
  • Ya Vue, the smallest and naughtiest boy with bounds of energy, who looked up to Xue Yee and made fun of everyone (including himself).

Lessons learned:

  • There truly is no point in planning a very strict schedule, it’s better to just plan lots of activities and see what you get through and what fits with the group. Maybe this is a good life plan too.
  • With these kids, classroom management was mostly about trying to get the students out of their shells and having fun, working together, and feeling free to be creative and create works they were proud of (as opposed to “managing behavior” or whatever).  They were so self-sufficient and independent in some ways (crossing the street, on our field trip, etc).
  • It took five days for the students to really warm up to the activities, being creative, each other, and me.  If we had another 5 days in a row, I think the students could have created anything.

I truly couldn’t have done the workshop without the help of Da Chang, Bounmi, Vongsamay, Tounmi, Vongdala, Hua Lor, Buaphone, Barbara, Abby, Mark, Nick, Tabea and Alex for their house, Mr Ngai for the internet, and the support from home.  Thanks so much!

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Mural #4 – UXO Education Mural – Xieng Khouang Mural Workshop Day 4

You can download a document with the 5-day mural workshop lesson plans here.

Day 4

Today I didn’t have a translator, so it was a bit silly.  Thanks so much to Nick for sticking with me!

1.  First we started with meditation – the kids are getting rowdier, so we had to sit on the floor in a circle to get them focused.

2.  Then they got right into painting their boards.  They went at it hard for 2 hours and then got very bored and tired (and done), so after they presented their paintings, we played some games – follow the leader.  I led them around the building jumping and stomping in a circle and being weirdos, which they enjoyed (and it required very little Lao).

3.  After lunch, we had a short naptime(spontaneous).

I hung up all their drawings on the wall, and here they are proudly writing their names on their work.

4.  Then we played Exquisite Corpse.  This was the best round of this game I have ever played.  The students really got creative and laughed SO HARD we played 6 times in a row.  I challenged them to draw things they had never drawn before, and they did!

5.  The last assignment of the day was to draw what made them happy (after their/their parents’ accidents).  I separated all the students so that they didn’t copy each other – and lo and behold, they each made a different drawing!  Samples included going to school, seeing beautiful nature, drawing, etc.  They were very absorbed in this.  I had them write why it made them happy on the back as well.

Lessons learned:

  • Even though the kids technically could finish a mural in a day – they probably don’t want to.  It’s tough to help them feel like they have finished it (vs just being too tired to keep going) – I tried to tell them that their parents were coming tomorrow to check out their work and they would have to present it to them (which is true!).
  • Naptime and freetime are similarly important – it’s good to let kids just do what they need to do and not fill the time all crazy like.
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