Gratitude Amid Chaos

April 25, 2023, Arlington County Detention Facility (ACDF): Our art teacher Sharmila Karamchandani ran into some unplanned chaos today and yet she and the women in the general population of the ACDF still found plenty to be grateful for. Here’s a shortened version of Sharmila’s story:

In the middle of chaos can you still find some gratitude? Before we started the workshop there was an incident with one of the inmates and we got delayed in starting our workshop which, to begin with, we had very little time for art. Now in a matter of 40 minutes, I had to explain the project, hear what they had to say, and also it was the last day with this unit I also had to get their evaluations for the program.
The project I had prepared was for them to make a gratitude tree. Most of them were still anxious and a bit shaken up by the incident and one of them was unable to draw at first as they were still trembling and here I go telling them to be grateful. Trust me, I too wouldn’t be able to pull out much if I was in their shoes. But these ladies are super resilient, they took all the instructions in and finished the project, shared with a loving heart as if nothing had happened just half an hour ago, and found so many things to be grateful for.
I ask them how they felt after the project. One of them who previously was anxious and unable to draw, genuinely thanked me saying “Thank you your project really helped me calm down and I no longer feel any anxiety”. And that’s the power of Art!!