The Netherlands: ACT! Breaking the Walls

Dorothée Meijer

Dorothée Meijer

Program Manager

Walls…. made to separate us. But what happens when we think out-of-the-box? And turn the negative association of a wall into something that inspires, brings us together and. Connects?!

Walls of Connection is designed to connect people. Where physical walls separate people, we can also turn this around. Exploring walls from a fresh, positive and curious perspective. The MasterPeace team challenged the students from two ISK schools in the Netherlands to break down the walls, at least existing in their heads. And think of creative ways to be in connection with each other and with other youngsters. At ISK schools students who’ve just arrived in the Netherlands learn to speak Dutch and get their entry qualification for the regular Dutch education system. 

So, this group of students especially is looking for Connection. As they are still finding their way into the education system, ambitious to use their talents to the fullest and searching for ways to get to know more Dutch based youngsters. What made it even more challenging was the corona-outbreak and the limitations it implied for going to school, meeting and hanging around with friends.

We were amazed of the results. And it once more showed how arts and creativity can help to make a connection from heart to heart, breaking boundaries of colour, language, age etc. 

The ACT! project Walls of Connection is designed in three phases: the first phase is to inspire and brainstorm; in the 2nd phase we will have a dialogue between each other, deepening the question what connection means to you. We also ask to visualize this. In the 3rd phase we make the mural. All this led by role models, in this case community artist Mahmoud Alnahas who has a background as Syrian refugee.

  1. In the first phase, the students started working creatively after a presentation of MasterPeace.

  2. In the second phase, we asked the students to create a wall that does not serve its original purpose, but instead connects, inspires and brings together. Some students immediately started drawing walls made of chocolate, clouds, even of money, strong WI-FI points or even swings, while others chose to express themselves using words.

  3. At the end of the day we had a collection of unique, original and inspiring ideas and we were ready for the 3rd phase of the project. Real painting. Unprecedented talents emerged. Students proudly showed their work. They shared the stories behind them. And even better, some of the students came back the second day of the project, offering their help for next time.

In Wageningen it all ended in a big celebration, where the ISK students came together with their peer-group of Dutch students. It once more showed that using art bridges differences.  

Would you like to know more about the artwork of Mahmoud? See his Facebook page here. 

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