Tag Archives: michigan 4-H children’s art exchange

Measuring our impacts – qualitatively AND quantitatively

We have put a great emphasis on being able to quantitatively document the impacts of our programs during our work planning process, and I’m extremely pleased with the progress we have made in applying that rigor to our planning and reporting. At the same time, sometimes the full measure of our program impacts has a very compelling qualitative aspect as well. We can take surveys, compile statistics and write reports, but if all we report is numeric data, we may miss the changes in attitudes or habits that some programs bring about.

 The Michigan 4-H China Project is a global education program that often uses the arts in both in-school and after-school experiences. In the Michigan 4-H Children’s Art Exchange, Michigan children create art that is sent to Chinese children. Chinese children in turn send their artwork to Michigan children.

 But it’s not just about the art. Chinese and American children learn about the similarities between their lives and develop awareness, understanding and appreciation of other cultures.

 Andrea Caron, Michigan State University Extension 4-H program instructor, joined in with the fifth graders when Gina Jacques started the 4-H art exchange in her third, fourth and fifth grade classrooms in the Soo Township Elementary School in Chippewa County. The fifth graders spent the hour talking about the project and art and the feelings and thoughts that the art brought out.

 As Andrea tells it, “In the last moments of class, when we were taking ideas and questions about the program, Anthony, a fifth grader, raised his hand and said: ‘So? Instead of taking anger out on people, they can use art to express themselves?’”

 Andrea goes on to say, “I was so amazed at his observation from the project and art – perhaps it was tied to us discussing what the Chinese children were trying to express to us and our associated feelings about it. I wanted to share, because this is surely the impact we hope to have but can’t always capture.”

 I agree. We can’t always measure the impact our programs have in statistics. Often it’s in the comment of a child or client that we can see proof of success.

 View a selection of Michigan artwork from the 2011 Michigan Children’s Art exchange traveling exhibit: http://expeng.anr.msu.edu/uploads/files/85/china_art_exchange/MI-ChinaArtExchange11-Web.pdf

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Cross-cultural exchange impacts Michigan youth

Approximately 6,000 Michigan children in grades K–6 participated in the 2010 Michigan 4-H Children’s Art Exchange with China. Of that number, seventy art pieces were selected to send to China as a gift to the children of China in Shandong Province. Chinese children sent 120 art pieces to Michigan to conclude the exchange.

 You can view the 2010 Michigan children’s artwork sent to China on the 4-H website at http://web1.msue.msu.edu/msue/cyf/youth/michart10/index.htm.

 For the exchange, Michigan and Chinese children are asked to create “visual letters” (paintings or drawings) of something important in their lives that they would like to share with children of the same age living halfway around the world. Visual letters become the means to communicate across language barriers. The themes and desire for connection are similar regardless of country and culture.

 Educators working with 5,067 Michigan children in 24 counties reported that 98 percent of the children increased awareness that art communicates ideas, feelings and stories as a result of their participation in this program. And 100 percent of the children gained new knowledge about China, increased awareness that there are similarities between themselves and Chinese children and expressed a desire to learn more about the children and their country.

 An exhibit funded by the MSU Asian Studies Center currently at the MSU Museum displays select pieces of Chinese children’s artwork from the 2010 exchange. The museum anticipates around 12,500 visitors for the duration of the exhibit, which runs Feb. 1 to March 31, 2011. For more information, visit http://museum.msu.edu/Exhibitions/Current/4-H_Children_Art_Exchange_with_China.html.

 Jan Brinn, Michigan State University Extension 4-H educator in Allegan County, and Betsy Knox, 4-H program leader and coordinator for the Michigan 4-H Art Exchange, co-presented a seminar “Global Education Through Art” at the National Association of Extension 4-H Agents (NAE4-HA) 2010 conference Oct 24–28 in Phoenix, Ariz. The seminar focused on the Michigan 4-H Children’s Art Exchange.

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