“Faces of Youth” showcases at Herzen Pedagogical University

Last month students and teachers from the State Russian Herzen Pedagogical University took part in the international project “Faces of Youth” which focuses on development of multicultural communication and ethnic tolerance among the young people.

The project’s author is Mark Scheflen, American teacher and artist. The project was started 10 years ago and now it is effective and fascinating education program which is directed to important art, political and cultural issues’ discussion.

Distinction of the project “Faces of Youth” is that teenagers express their life views through the masks, photo diaries and films made by them during the workshops.

From the earliest times mask was considered to be the essential symbol of man’s inner and outer life. On this point the mask-making process can be regarded as a unique way to man’s heart, a possibility to open your inner world and show your creativity.

In Herzen University the project started with the display of the previous works made by the young people from the U.S., Kenya and Russia. But the most exciting part for Herzen University students was individual mask-making process. Young people needed only plaster bandage, water and desire to express themselves.

It should be noted that students highly enjoyed this way of self-expression. For example, Anton Shpilev, student of the Chemistry Department, painted the world map on his mask and decorated it with fairy lights so it sparkled with lively colors. Another student of Chemistry Department, Yana Grausova, focused on her impressions of the recently read novel “Thais of Athens” by Ivan Efremov. She conveyed her original book interpretation through the mask.

Skype conferences with the counterparts from New York and Kenya were brand new experience for Russian students. During these conferences they discussed cultural traditions of different countries, health and medicine issues along with the differences in education programs. It was also great opportunity for Russian students to practice their English.

In addition to visual art classes there was also a dance part to the project. All students participated in dance therapy classes with great pleasure. Participants learned to express their emotions and feelings through the dance. “It is beyond words what I felt. In the beginning it is hard to uncover yourself but then, when you close your eyes, you really begin to feel your body”, shared her emotions Nadezhda Dekunova, one of the participants.

In conclusion we would like to say that the project “Faces of Youth” was supervised by Yulia Komarova and Ludmila Panteleeva, deputy directors of Linguistic Center, and also by Natalia Madorskaya and Natalia Shakhanova, teachers of English Language Department for Natural Science Faculties. Project’s participants could see foreign language communication in a new light, they could understand all the advantages of such communication. Students and teachers had the opportunity to meet such interesting artist as Mark Scheflen and they are grateful for this wonderful international communication and creative experience.

 24 Hours        December 9, 2010