September 16, 2018
Dear Big Picture Foundation Community,
Welcome back to another exciting year of empowering kids’ creativity, kindness, and global community building. What unexpected accomplishments will Big Picture Foundation kids share with each other, this year? Their world-spanning idealism, enthusiasm, and vision make this program unlike any other.
This summer, I had the honor of meeting our kids in Peru and in Brazil, on their turf. I visited their schools and spoke with their teachers and administrators, I met their parents and grandparents, shared meals with them, and even held a BPF awards ceremony in Peru. While running Big Picture Foundation is sometimes overwhelming, getting to know kids who spearhead their own international BPF chapters and who enthusiastically ask, “what’s next?” makes it so worthwhile.
Our group in Peru launched at the start of the 2017-2018 academic year, because of encouragement from Rye 7th grader, Camilla L., who had just moved to the United States from Lima. In Peru, Camilla arranged for me to visit her former Innova Schools’ psychologist, Diana Ruiz Castillo. After our conference, Ms. Castillo showed me around the school, while we discussed ideas for fostering leadership and global citizenry among her students. That evening, Camilla’s grandparents hosted a dinner for all of our talented Peruvian BPF kids. We held an award ceremony, filmed a music video, and enjoyed delicious Peruvian cuisine.
In Sao Paolo, Brazil, Maria M. invited me to SP-Arte/Foto, an art fair directed by her mother. As a lifelong devotee of some of the world’s best-known fairs, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Well, my fellow art fair followers, I suggest you add SP-Arte/Foto and SP-Arte (her mother’s other fair) to your globetrotting agenda! They are the respected fairs among Brazilians. Not only was the show populated by sophisticated galleries, showing work that’s familiar to international contemporary art enthusiasts, Maria, also gave me a curator-worthy tour of the work of her favorite politically provocative Brazilian artists, several of whom have been added to my list of favorites.
While Maria recently graduated from high school, and thus from our program, she arranged a meeting for me to discuss BPF with Jeanemarie Andreazza, director of the English as a Second Language Department, at her former high school, the Colégio Santa Cruz. The meeting with Ms. Andreazza veered from BPF programming to foreign affairs and finally to our shared vision for fostering global leaders.
At home, in the United States, the hard work and unwavering enthusiasm of five kids from our Rye, NY (USA) chapter, they who were our BPF student founders, was just as inspirational as the spirit of the kids in Peru and in Brazil. The US kids researched funding possibilities and volunteered weekends to try their hands at grant writing. In exchange, a few of them asked me to take them to the Rockaways to see a Yayoi Kusama installation. The Rockaways! I explained that getting to the Rockaways was on par with traveling to the North Pole. They would not be dissuaded and so we embarked on a day trip that turned out to be… awesome! Have you all seen Rockaway Beach? The white expansive sands and the formidable waves are comparable to the best I’ve seen on eastern Long Island. Lesson learned: say “yes” to new experiences.
Imagine if our Big Picture Foundation efforts caught on and international collaboration became a normal part of childhood. Imagine a future built by leaders who were invested in global friendships and collaborative problem solving from the time they were in grade school. Our students, challenged to use the arts for local, national, and global community building endeavors, may someday be the leaders who see new paths for uniting our nations.