I received an amazing opportunity to travel to Hamburg, Germany for five days in May of 2018. I traveled to Hamburg to work with The Peace Paper Project, learn about art therapy, and explore the city. The Peace Paper Project uses the art of making paper as a vehicle for personal expression and cultural change; it is used as a method for coping with trauma or a form of activism. My interest in this organization started my freshman year when Drew Matott, the director of the Peace Paper Project, came to St. Lawrence and conducted a workshop. His work as an art counselor inspired me and showed me how I could combine my interests in psychology and art.
Originally, I was supposed to help with the integration program, a series of events working with refugees, at the Why Not Café. Unfortunately, the dates of these programs changed to later in the year, but my experience in Hamburg was still very positive and fulfilling. I spent my time in Hamburg improving my paper making skills and exploring the city. Drew Matott and I made paper using flowers from the local florist, which had not been purchased and had wilted. I completed each step in the papermaking process. I created a variety of pulps, the substance used to make paper, using hemp or cotton materials mixed with the flowers. I then pulled the sheets of paper using a mould and deckle, the two tools used to form a sheet of paper. After this, we dried the paper. Drew and I produced many different types of flower paper, and I strengthened my paper making skill set.
When I was not making paper, I explored Hamburg and viewed a few art exhibits. I loved walking through parts of the Planten un Blomen which is a large beautiful park that runs through many areas of Hamburg. I rode the ferry on the Elbe river. I also attended a gallery opening and explored many of the artistic quarters of the city. The people of Hamburg appreciate the arts, and art is displayed everywhere. I loved this aspect of Hamburg and how highly art was valued in the community.
My trip to Hamburg was a chance for me to learn from Drew Matott and hear about his experiences as an art counselor. I gained insight about art therapy which is now an interest of mine that I am looking to pursue further, and a potential career path I would like to explore. I am so thankful for this experience, and that St. Lawrence and its generous donors provide students with opportunities such as my trip to Hamburg.