The Findhorn community has the pleasure, twice each year, of hosting a group of American students when they participate in the 3-month Findhorn Community Semester programme administered by Findhorn College. Over the course of either an autumn or spring season, these young people, aged 18-25, engage with the community by participating in our daily activities and sustainable living practices while fulfilling their required academic curriculum for the University of Massachusetts.
One of the threads woven into the fabric of this powerful, uplifting and inspiring programme are the classes designed to explore the Self and Community through the Arts. Through these lessons, the students discover and deepen into a variety of creative skills, from poetry to pottery, clowning to photography, and are given the space and time to connect with their innate human capacity to create and inspire.
Jennifer Heinzel, age 21, from Minnesota, says of her experience: "What I found most valuable about this aspect of the programme was that my creativity is an essential aspect of my self-sustainability. In order to thrive, I need to allow myself the opportunity to be creative." One of the spring 2010 students, Jennifer created a slide show of Scottish herbs, demonstrating the use of nettles to dye wool for knitting, and explored a photographic project showing the perspective of the environment as seen through the eyes of a bee or fairy.
Arla Casselman, age 21, from Maine, created a slide show depicting each of the class as a representative of a quality she saw in each of them. "Our class had a goddess theme going!" she said to introduce her work.
Jayce Hafner, also 21, from Virginia, wrote the lyrics and composed the music for a haunting song titled The Muse. A short extract from her composition gives a good insight into her sentiments:
…You say: 'Beauty comes in brush strokes
In painting lies the glory!'
As your colours come to life within my life
And life ain't all a burden if its artists you're a-charmin'
Embodying some vision of their… visions.
But I can't help but ponder what if I were the creator?
Not the actor just reflecting others dreams.
Findhorn community resident and movement and dance teacher Deborah Jay-Lewin, who facilitated the Art aspect of the FSC programme, was amazed at the skill and depth of vision that this class showed, particularly in the variety of photographic presentations. The atmospheric images inspired by their experience on the isles of Erraid and Iona, and how many of the plant devas captivated the keen eye of these young students, stood out for her.
The FCS programme has allowed each of these students the opportunity to explore what it means to be a young woman in a time of global challenge and change. Slam poet Virginia said of her experience: "I have come from a background of traditional scientific study, and was becoming discouraged by the future projections about life on this planet that are a part of my curriculum. In being here, I see the living presence of hope, resilience and a really great future."