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Dashew Center’s new student collective doubles as artistic, social avenue

The UCLA Dashew Center for International Students and Scholars will host biweekly meetings for a new art and writing collective aimed at international students to learn about art and socialize. (Daily Bruin file photo)

By Inga Hwang

Jan. 27, 2019 11:33 p.m.

International students can learn and teach art skills while socializing at a new art collective.

The UCLA Dashew Center for International Students and Scholars launched a drop-in art and writing collective Wednesday. The collective provides art supplies, including watercolor paints and brushes, felt-tip pens, drawing pencils and erasers. The collective also holds meetings at which students can work on art projects, teach each other art skills and enter raffles to win art supplies.

Hillary Thomas, a case manager for the Dashew Center, said she hopes the collective will expose international students to art while helping them adjust to life at UCLA.

“I’ve heard very personal stories about how difficult it is to … feel a sense of belonging and connection,” Thomas said. “Our hope is that the art and writing collective provides an ongoing drop-in space to help international students explore their creative side and meet new people.”

Ayesha Haleem, the Undergraduate Students Association Council general representative 1, said she believes the collective will allow students to share art from their respective countries.

“All of us come from really different parts of the world and the idea of art that we bring is very different,” Haleem said. “I think bringing … different versions of what we consider art or artistic (is) cool and interesting.”

Alex Chen, a second-year computer science student, said he believes the collective will act as a space for international students to share ideas in addition to creating art.

“I would imagine it becoming some sort of exchange platform, like talking about how you’re doing or how you fit into the entirety of UCLA … rather than just focusing on art,” Chen said.

The collective also provides opportunities for students to teach each other artistic skills. The first meeting of the collective featured a student-led printmaking exercise.

Thomas said the focus of future meetings will depend on what creative skills students want to learn and teach.

“The art and writing collective is less about structure and more about coming together to work on creative projects, collaborate and socialize,” Thomas said.

The collective will also publish an affiliated magazine featuring art and writing from international students. Students will submit their work during winter quarter, and the magazine will be published electronically on the Dashew Center website in spring.

Thomas said she hopes the magazine will allow domestic students to engage with the international student community.

“Maybe the broader campus (will read) the magazine and learn about a student experience or perspective they were unfamiliar with,” Thomas said.

Seven students attended the first meeting of the collective. To increase attendance, Chen said he thinks the Dashew Center should focus on what differentiates the collective from other on-campus organizations when promoting it to international students.

“Right now I think their proposition is (that) this is a place where you can come and draw and talk to people, and I think that’s something that other clubs can already provide,” Chen said. “I think they really need to figure out what their focus is.”

The collective meets every other Wednesday in the Dashew Center’s lobby. Haleem said she believes the collective would have a greater impact on the international student community if it were located in a central campus location, such as Kerckhoff Hall.

“There’s definitely a need for more programming or activities on campus pertaining to international students,” Haleem said.

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Inga Hwang
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