An Artsy Reading Week: My experience as an ARW Project Leader

My high school teacher once told me that you don’t become a grade 12er until you’ve finished grade 12. I thought this was very enlightening at the time, and I still think it rings true to every role I’ve had over the years. Being a project leader is no exception.

It is my second year doing ARW and first time being a project leader. Last year, I took part in ARW as a participant and absolutely loved it (I wrote about it in one my previous posts, just in case you’re dying to know, here it is: So this year, I came back and signed up to be a project leader. Funny thing, it turned out to be one of the best decisions I’ve ever made, but this wasn’t always what I thought.

As a project leader, I’ve been preparing for ARW since September although ARW doesn’t happen until February and I’ve attended numerous two-hour monthly meetings and participated in Spirit Week (a week of promotion events for ARW that I also wrote about, here: even though ARW runs for only three days. It goes without saying that being a project leader can be quite the commitment. There were moments that I wanted to bail, to make up an excuse for myself and say “meh, I can always do it next year when I have more time” especially during midterm season and the winter final, it was very easy to just say “I can’t do this”, but I can. And thankfully, I did.

My project this year was working at the ArtHeart Community Centre with my team of six amazing participants and my fabulous co-project leader Sania. We were tasked with preparing for their annual art show called SPRUNG and we had a blast doing it as you will see in the following photos:


Our first group selfie with the project 18 sign and everything
All smiles in our team photo on kick off day, there was an instant connection 😉
The team posing with our lunch boxes that the CCP has kindly provided us with :)
The CCP provided us with lunches and ttc tokens for all 3 days of ARW, work hard eat hard am i right
Photo of us hard at work, cleaning frames, cataloging paintings and lending a hand where needed
“Heart” at Work: Hard at work at ArtHeart, CATALOGING paintings, recycling frames, cleaning glasses 🙂
Our participants are all smiles during our end of day reflection
This big smile says: reflection time is funnnnnnn


Our team posing for a photo at the centre where we were volunteering, looking very modelish
“Modelling” the way: Damn, We fine
A snap of our team eating lunch and having some quality bonding time
Making small talk at lunch is my speciality
A photo of our participants busy making paper flowers but not too busy to throw us a smile
Making flowers, my teammates are so talented man, they blow me away
Photo of the beautiful paper flowers we made: lavender, roses, vines
See what i was talking about, these are so beautiful!
A picture of us making vines out of soft fabric paper and having a blast doing it
It takes a village
Sania waving her hand made lavender flower that looks like a wand so hence the caption "Abracadabra" :)
Abracadabra-featuring Sania, my awesome co-project lead
Another group photo of us with our work in progress as the background
Always have time for a group photo, can’t blame us for being such a photogenic group *WINK WINK
A picture of me and two other participants peeking from behind the flower mural wall that we are working on beautifying


Photo of participants working on their reflections during lunch/break time
Ever wondered what dedication looks like?  That: working even at lunch time
A photo of us preparing the crops to build the flower mural with
After spending two days cutting cardboards, I’m a certified cardboard cutter now
An artistic perspective photo of the different roles and elements required to build the flower mural; many hands each holding an element such as a glue gun, pencil, cardboard and a brochure to fan the glue
S for squad -did I mention we’re a witty bunch?
A cute photo of us posing in front of some of the artwork displayed on the walls of the artist work space at ArtHeart
Because we so extra
A photo of a participant placing a flower on the flower mural and the letters on the mural can be seen from an angle that shows the dynamic side to our mural wall design
Flower mural in the making
A full group photo including our whole team and the volunteers at the center who were a big help to us, taken with the finished flower mural in the background
THE end result brought tears to my eyes although it’s not apparent in this picture since I’m so good at hiding my feelings, muahahahahah
A goofy version of the previous photo!
did someone say goofy? yes, i totally got the memo, what was i thinking?
A photo of the sketch I did from our photo selfie
my quick sketch of the posse: when words fail, I Draw 🙂
A poster of the art show SPRUNG with the date and location details reads: Opening Reception, Wednesday, March 21st 6-8pm, Syrian Night, Wednesday April 11th, 6-8pm. Location Art Heart Community Art Centre Daniels Spectrum 585 DUndas St.E. 2nd Floor, #ArtHeartTO
SPRUNG is happening soon, if you’re interested, be sure to check it out here 🙂

I didn’t know how to truly be a project leader until the last day of ARW, knowing all the unexpected situations we survived as a team and seeing how much we’ve accomplished in such a short period of time still puts me in awe. As I was reading through the reflection book, I could truly feel the words that expressed much gratitude for the community and the people we met there, for the opportunity to use our artistic skills to contribute to a great cause and for the experience in seeing our individual ideas come to life through a supportive and loving collaboration.

It warms my heart when I open our reflection book and it reads:

If I had the chance to relive the opportunity I would not do anything differently because I had a great experience with the team and the team at ArtHeart. -Taha

ARW team taught how to laugh. -Josaane

The importance of contributing with your presence and labor, no matter how small the tasks are. -Kit

I learned that no matter what program you are in, you will be able to become friends with others with a different or same program. -Rhea

Seeing the volunteers and placement students interacting with participants made me realize the importance of compassion and hope when it comes to making a positive change in a community and keeping that creative spirit in the participants. -Joce

I am so thankful for this experience that I’ve had over the past months with the ARW2018 project and how many amazing things it has helped me learn about myself and the people around me. -Sania

Everything, everything about my project and team is what I had hoped for and beyond what I had expected. Life works out in the most incredible ways, as long as you can appreciate all the little opportunities that come along and make an effort to meet them halfway -Iris

At the end of the day, we are all each other’s inspiration and ARW is the perfect catalyst for creating these opportunities for us to inspire and to be inspired 🙂

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