When I started my master’s degree studies, I also enrolled in Tokyo Tech Academy for Leadership (ToTAL), which provides a range of interesting courses and workshops to develop self and social awareness, communication, and leadership skills.
As my last ToTAL workshop, I joined EGAKU workshop in February 2022. The workshops and courses are open to non-ToTAL students from Tokyo Tech and other universities as well.
EGAKU is a creative development program, reaching kids and youths from elementary school to university and business professionals at corporates. The program is about repeating the process of “seeing art” and “creating art,” which allows dialogue with yourself and others, expression, and discovery.
In the beginning, participants shared their feelings and thoughts looking at the same art piece in a group. In this practice, it was interesting to hear others’ comments which I didn’t notice or feel about that certain piece. Even though we did not know the person who had drawn that art, I got some idea about what kind of person they were. Also, the workshop instructors shared some of the arts created by executives at large companies, which expressed their core values reflected in their business.
Next, it was our turn to create art. The theme was “Things that drive you.” Before we started, we were provided with worksheets, which guided us to think about the things that drive us, the root reason behind that, and the colors associated with this feeling, as well as how to use the tools and play with those tools to create what we want to create within 50 minutes.
The drawing session felt like writing a diary to me. Looking at my drawing adding colors and lines were just like a conversation with myself. Blurring and mixing the pastel colors with my finger, trying to express myself on a small squared paper was very exciting. I don’t even remember when I had used pastels before that. Maybe in elementary school?
After the drawing time, it came to another interesting session: looking at others’ art and sharing our feelings. When we moved around the room, it was like a gallery with a range of colors, shapes, and expressions. Later we came back to our groups. Everyone shared their feelings and thoughts on each other’s art and tried to guess what drives that person. The comments from other people on my drawing were refreshing, allowing me to see myself from a third-person perspective.
At the end of the day, it felt like I knew my groupmates quite well, even though we had just met a few hours before that. I was amazed at how intimate and powerful the art of communication was.
Personally, I’m not really an artsy type and don’t feel confident in drawing. Probably, I feel afraid that I might draw some wrong lines or add weird colors, looking for a perfect answer. Through this workshop, I realized that there is no wrong or right answer in art, but it’s all about your feelings and exploration.
I attempted to draw the warmth of the people I encountered as something that drove me. Since this is my last semester at Tokyo Tech, I feel this gratitude toward the people I met during my journey at Tokyo Tech. The support, trust, and kindness given to me really pushed me forward when I was stuck. Using this opportunity, I would like to give special thanks to my supervisor, Professor Jeffrey S. Cross, lab members, GSEP faculty, and the first batch of GSEP program for growing together with me. I’m excited to continue my journey forward, keeping the learnings, experiences, memories, and connections I made here. Thank you, Tokyo Tech!