Drawing New Connections
Drawing in Community
When Jasmine moved to Vancouver from Taiwan she needed some extra help with her English. A lucky conversation on a bus lead her to the UBC Learning Exchange where she found much more than a better vocabulary.
Six months earlier Jasmine had made the tough decision to move to Canada to find more support for her autistic son. Jasmine’s 9-year-old son had grown frustrated in the competitive environment of Taiwan. “He would often just sit by himself and do nothing,” Jasmine explained.
While at the Learning Exchange a new cartooning class gave Jasmine an idea. “Since my son won’t express himself with words maybe I can help him through drawing.” She took a small leap of faith and signed up for the cartooning class taught by former professional artist Ian Savage.
At 66 years old, Ian was relatively alone in Vancouver himself and had offered his services at the Learning Exchange to get more involved in the community. He never could have guessed that he would play an integral role in helping Jasmine’s son learn to express himself and build much needed self-esteem.
During the first class Jasmine surprised Ian and herself. Even though she had very little experience, drawing was unexpectedly easy for her. Ian quickly noticed that Jasmine had a hidden talent, but that wasn’t the only thing she was hiding. She confided to Ian that she was taking the class so that she could pass on the knowledge to her son who was busy with his grade 4 studies. Ian happily embraced her plan and spent extra time with Jasmine so that she could also play the role of teacher.
Jasmine enjoyed developing her own skills and spending time with Ian, but loved teaching what she learned to her son. She beamed about his quick progression from pencil drawings of animals to pastels of the Taiwanese landscape, “He has discovered a treasure. He is calmer and happier now that he can express himself. And he feels confident knowing he can do something well.”
A similar sense of pride radiated from Ian, “I reached out to this child I may never meet and was a catalyst for his learning, I thought that was beyond my realm – even at my age I have learned something about myself.”
That sense of pride echoed through the halls of the UBC Learning Exchange as well, because its goal of supporting people to improve their lives through learning and leadership, has been realized one more time.