Literature, which has its beginnings from the ancient times and also defined as SHE or the “significant human experience,” is the powerful springboard to initiate change.
So believe the Grade 12 students of the Sharjah American International School (SAIS) in Al Ramaqiah. As part of their English subject under Layla Putris, they metamorphosed two narrative poems, namely “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” and “The Rape of the Lock” by England’s Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Alexander Pope, respectively, as the vehicles of satire and imagery for modern-day concerns.
For a project that took at least two weeks in the making leading to a one-day exhibit at the school’s gymnasium on Tuesday, Ahmad El Sayed, one of the campus journalists, told The Gulf Today he realised that satire could bring about the non-violent means of conveying one’s message.
The artist behind the red and black caricature of a young woman screaming upon the news of the death of a famous international personality, particularly from the entertainment industry, vis-à-vis the indifference towards the horrible news of poverty and all the negative things around the world, said it is unfortunate how men have become callous to major issues.
Another campus journalist, Danish Lookmanje, describing his satirical caricature as a “comedy” about a teacher explaining what e-learning is and in the course of the explanation gets all of the gadgets and equipment go haywire as she also cannot reiterate more about her lesson, said: “There are issues in our society that get unanswered.”
“Sometimes, things get too exaggerated,” he added, relating how his other caricature of a young boy surrounded by many hidden cameras is about the invasion of one’s privacy.
“I like this project because it taught us how to hit in a funny way,” Lookmanje said.
Over at the “Power of the Imagination,” the students artistically executed thought-provoking posters on peace, the preservation of the environment, and the Middle East crisis.
For instance, there is a wounded dove sipping healing potion from a bottle.
New student Ali Al Atrakchi shared that his graphics of Mother Nature as a woman whose green colour is slowly fading evokes how useless violence is.
He is willing to contribute to effect positive change throughout the world as this has been his orientation in Canada where he grew up.
Al Atrakchi also believes violence will not and cannot enforce solutions.
“We have been through two world wars. There are wars all over. All we have to do is put behind us all the ugly things like what I try to convey in my art and focus on rebuilding our cities and countries together,” he reasoned.
“We do not have to abuse,” Al Atrakchi added.
In another part of the exhibition, students also became experts in urban planning and politics through a few tableaux they created to evince their preference for a green livable city and a unified country where social welfare is the priority over military and arms build-up.
English Department Head Ziad Abu Hamdan said the activity is among the several out-of-the-box approaches the SAIS administration has been implementing in order to develop well-rounded students.
He agreed that amid the fast-paced progress of modern technology, one of the best ways to harness the talents and individuality of the future generation is to instil in them the traditional ways of appreciating literature (reading with the book, paper and pencil) as well as developing their inquiring and analytical mind.
The senses have to be honed, “because we are humans and not robots,” Hamdan said.
For him, the ability of the youth to relate literary classics to modern-day living is a step for them to work towards what they desire, which is basically quality life for everyone.
From the girls’ sections, Shouq Al Masood, Samantha Rahal, Marwa Al Zarouni, Dana Fowaz and Bayan Hamdan, said the youth, if given the chance, can be the instruments for the better world each one is longing for.
They welcomed the project, saying it would be great if all of the students would be given the chance to contribute in succeeding similar activities, since visual arts can effect the much-needed change.
“No views and opinion are bad. We hope that the adults will listen to us,” said Hamdan and Fowaz. All of them want a public viewing of the exhibition.
Meanwhile, a corner was dedicated to the late Noora El Hosari, a Grade 12 student who died instantly when sideswiped on the dark highway during a safari trip in Dubai on Feb. 24. Her caricature of a couple before and after marriage she drew last year was part of the one-day exhibit.
“What happened to her taught us about responsibility. We miss her,” said Ahmad Al Zarouni.