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“Beyond Borders and Identities” with LAPC

In the vibrant dynamics of Parami University’s student-led clubs, the Laid-back, Art and Philosophy Club (LAPC) proves to be a unique thread, weaving together intellectual curiosity and creative expression. Going beyond the traditional bounds of academia, LAPC pledges to establish “a lyceum and atelier for intellectual curiosity and creative expression,” embodying a commitment to creating “a sanctuary where individuals can unwind, revel in joy, and embrace their true selves.” Aligning with their ambitions that stretch beyond the traditional borders, they embark on a journey of engagement, hosting various online and in-person activities and sessions. 

The outset of 2024 saw LAPC bringing its mission to life at an increasing and inspiring rate as it hosted a series of in-person activities titled “Beyond Borders and Identities,” accompanied by various insightful activities across five community schools in Shan State, Myanmar: Taunggyi Learning Hub, St. Benedict Church, Shan State Buddhist University, Mauk Wak Community Center, and Integrated Development Institute. Known by its acronym LAPC, the Laid-back, Art and Philosophy Club designs and runs activities to actively promote inclusive art education and provide creative outlets without causing harm. LAPC’s outreach reflects a dedication to making the transformative power of art and philosophy accessible to diverse communities. 

The heart of LAPC’s recent activities lies in a dual demographics approach, recognizing the distinct needs of older and younger participants. The session commenced with a comprehensive introduction to LAPC, setting the stage for a collective exploration of artistic self-discovery. The dual demographics approach unfolded, with acceptance-based sharing tailored for older participants and empathy-based sharing crafted for their younger counterparts.

A poignant moment in the session was the guided reflection on negative emotions, setting the foundation for a 9-minute drawing session. Participants, regardless of age, were encouraged to externalize their complex landscapes artistically. The subsequent act of earring and discarding these drawings into a designated trash bin symbolized the cathartic process of letting go and freeing oneself from emotional burdens. 

Facilitating a nuanced discussion on acceptance, LAPC aimed to reshape participants’ perspectives on negative emotions. Rather than viewing them as obstacles, these emotions were reframed as integral components of personal identity. Participants were then prompted to express their acceptance through various forms of art and open dialogue, fostering a supportive environment for emotional exploration. 

l a i x e n, the leader of LAPC, highlights the importance of these activities as they bridge cultural divides by bringing together diverse individuals from different backgrounds and ethnicities through shared emotions and artistic expression and foster understanding, empathy, and a sense of shared humanity.

"These events guide participants in exploring their negative emotions. Through drawing and discussion, they can identify, express, and potentially release these emotions, contributing to emotional well-being and self-awareness in an emotionally safe place. Plus, this vent promotes acceptance of emotions and encourages creative expression. This allows individuals to discover themselves and their emotions through artistic channels. It also fosters a supportive and understanding community by enabling diverse participants to share their experiences and build connections." —l a i x e n, the leader of LAPC

LAPC’s commitment to empathy was further exemplified in the sharing of drawings from the empathy-based session. These drawings were not met with mere sympathy but genuine empathy, creating connections and deepening understanding among participants who had shared similar emotional experiences.

As the sessions drew to a close, participants engaged in verbal sharing of their drawings, providing insights into the emotions they had experienced during this unique artful exploration.

LAPC members
LAPC members

The members who were part of the activities also reflected their experiences as follows:

“As I reflect on my experiences on LAPC club activities, that experience was amazing and interesting as we went to community schools together and participated in LAPC's activities with the students at those community schools.” — Chaw Su Hlaing

“It was a fun and liberating experience to have planned and facilitated the event, “Beyond Borders and Identities.” Seeing the participants expressing themselves, communicating and bonding with each other through art easily stays the highlight of the event.” — Htet Woon Yan

“I express sincere appreciation to Parami University for their indispensable support in our project, "Beyond Borders and Identities." It has been a rewarding experience, involving visits to Taunggyi, interaction with different communities, event organization, and valuable learning. Particularly notable was the participants' keen focus and genuine interest in the activities, highlighting the significance of our efforts.” — Naing Lin Thu 

LAPC’s artful exploration transcends the realms of mere aesthetics; it delves into the profound nuances of the human experience, providing a valuable platform for connection, emotional exploration, and celebrating our shared humanity through art. As LAPC continues to navigate the intersection of art, philosophy, and community engagement, it remains an important student-led initiative that embraces the importance of providing a sanctuary for intellectual curiosity and a canvas for creative expression. 

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