This is an abridged translation of an essay I wrote for "Adlerian," the Journal of Individual Psychology in Japan. As I want to share this to my dear teacher, Hala Buck, I translate my personal experience in the Art Class. I took the "Cross-cultural Understanding through Art Therapy" course during the first week of my first ICASSI. I was interested in art therapy and I love to see pictures though I had never had a painting brush since high-school.
Hala was a Lebanese art-therapist of short hair with sparkling black eyes. My classmates were six, whose nationalities were German, American, Canadian, and Dutch. The course went on basically like this: Hala gave us a certain theme and we drew or created our picture. She provided us with much color paper, water color, color pencils, crayons, paste, and other materials. After we finished our work, we put our pictures on the wall so that we could see others', and we shared our feelings and thoughts. For example, Hala asked us to draw pictures on our "Name" on the first day. In the sharing, I was surprised that every painting expressed the individual's personality clearly. The pictures introduced us perfectly.
According to Hala, everyone puts on an eyeglass of his/her own culture. The lens of the glass is tinted by personal logic, family logic, working place logic, and common logic. These glasses are usually very thick and make people lopsided, so it is very important to know the fact we are wearing the glasses. Moreover, we need a bridge to bind the right lens and the left lens in order to communicate. I began to understand the term "culture" in "cross-culture" included all personalities of individuals.
One day, we were told to draw pictures of our early memories connecting to our present problems. My present problem at that time was the stress in my first dormitory life in ICASSI. As there were only two Japanese, people said hello to us in every occasion. They were eager to know Japan and asked about the present situation in psychotherapy, society, economy, politics, and many things. The problem was that I could not answer those questions as correctly as they expected. I found that I did not know about Japan, or at least, I did not have enough vocabulary to explain my country to people. I felt inferior.
I drew a picture I was playing with a swing in the kindergarten playground. Hala asked me where I zoomed my attention. It was me on the swing. She asked me about my feelings. I felt uneasy because the kindergarten nurse asked me if I was OK. I instantly became uneasy though I had been perfectly happy on the swing until she came. Thanks to Hala's questions, I found out that I easily became uneasy according to the others' words. "You sway like the swinging rope" Hala winked.
On another day, she told us to review all of our own pictures, choose one of them, and re-draw it. I decided to re-draw a picture I drew on the first day. It was the "My Name" picture. I re-drew it bigger and stronger. I collaged a rabbit photo because I felt I was like a timid rabbit always afraid of others. However, I knew rabbits could run and jump, and so could I. I began to feel I was accepted as I was in this class. One of the classmates said that my name in the first picture seemed to be surrounded by a circle, shut in. But in the second picture, there was no such a circle. "You are breaking the eggshell and coming out!" Hala said. (to be continued...)