Volunteer in India

Engage in the transforming power of the arts!

 

ASTEP is currently recruiting musicians, dancers, and visual artists for our three-week arts camp at Shanti Bhavan Children’s Project, a school and home for economically and socially disadvantaged children outside Bangalore, India. With a team of 5-10 volunteer artists, ASTEP’s arts camp transform the school into a place of creativity, performance and ol’ fashioned silliness for the 300+ students at who live there.

Application deadline: July 17, 2015
Dates: September 6 – 23, 2015

Email Lizzy Rainer at lizzy@asteponline.org to learn more!

+ Want to find out more about our partnership with Shanti Bhavan?

+ Check out photos from our most recent camp in May!

 

Art-in-Action 2014 Camp Blog!

AIA 2014_Week 3_3w

Hey everyone!

Welcome to our Arts-in-Action 2014 camp blog!

Led by a team of 14 Volunteer Artists, ASTEP and our partner, enFAMILIA, are in the middle of Art-in-Action, a 5-week arts camp that brings a dynamic visual and performing arts experience to over 100 youth from the immigrant and migrant communities of Deep South Miami-Dade. Art-in-Action is all about providing a safe space for high school and middle school youth so they can come together to create, develop artistic skills, and grow personally and emotionally.

Students sign up for a variety of classes, including Music, Drama, Dance, Visual Art, and Musical Theater. A few of the elective classes that were offered featured Screen Printing, Clowning, Poetry, and Breakdancing. Stay tuned for weekly updates full of photos, videos, and testimonials!

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Week 1

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Week 2

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Week 3

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Week 4

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Week 4

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** None of this would be possible without the dedication and talent of our amazing Volunteer Artist Team:

Aaron Anthon (Visual Art), Cessa Betancourt (Dance), Elise Conklin (Music), Laura Estep (Events Coordinator), Devon Fitol (Dance), Allison Gibbons (Dance), Raymundo Gutierrez (Music), Kelcie Miles (Theatre), Tiffany Ramos (Visual Art), Ximena Salgado (Assistant Program Facilitator), Damian Santamaria (Visual Art), Linnell Truchon (Theatre), Blake Wales (Theatre), and Andre Webb (Music).


Also, a BIG thank you to all of our supporters and donors, especially Southwest Airlines, which directly supported the 2014 Art-in-Action Summer Camp!

  Southwest Airlines is proud to be a partner of ASTEP. At Southwest Airlines we strive to make a positive difference in the communities we serve.”


Third year partnering with The Kennedy Center!

ASTEP is thrilled to partner for a third year with the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF), a national theater program involving 18,000 students from colleges and universities nationwide, to enhance the quality of college theater in the United States.

ASTEP will be leading two workshops, “Time to Make a Change” and “Living Outside the Box”, highlighting creative ways to use the arts to transform lives and communities. In addition, ASTEP will be joining a prestigious panel of judges for the Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship. (Check out our 2013 experience!)

ASTEP’s presenters at each of the eight regions:


Abby Gerdts, ASTEP’s Director of Programs

* Saginaw Valley State University – Region 3 (Jan 7-11)

* Boise State University – Region 7 (Feb 17-21)

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Mauricio Salgado, ASTEP’s Director of Programs

* West Chester University of Pennsylvania – Region 2 (Jan 14-18)

* University of Nebraska-Lincoln – Region 5 (Jan 19-25)

* Hyannis, MA – Region 1 (Jan 28-Feb 1)

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Ali Dachis, ASTEP Volunteer Artist

* Hollins University – Region 4 (Feb 4-8)

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Alejandro Rodriguez, ASTEP Program Coordinator

* Los Angeles Theatre Center – Region 8 (Feb 12-15)

* Centenary College of Louisiana – Region 6 (Feb 25-Mar 1)










Art-in-Action 2013 Camp Blog!

Hey everyone!

Welcome to our Arts-in-Action 2013 camp blog!

Led by a team of 21 Volunteer Artists, ASTEP and our partner, enFAMILIA, delivered Art-in-Action, a 6-week arts camp that brought a dynamic visual and performing arts experience to 120 youth from the immigrant and migrant communities of Deep South Miami-Dade. Art-in-Action is all about providing a safe space for high school and middle school youth so they can come together to create, develop artistic skills, and grow personally and emotionally.

Students signed up for a variety of classes, including Music, Drama, Dance, Visual Art, and Musical Theater. A few of the elective classes that were offered featured Screen Printing, Clowning, Poetry, and Breakdancing. Enjoy the photos, videos, and testimonials!

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Week 1

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Week 2

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Week 3

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Week 4

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Week 5

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Week 6

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** None of this would be possible without dedication and talent of our amazing Volunteer Artist Team: Linnell Truchon (Theatre), Maria Arvanitakis (Theatre), Kelcie Miles (Theatre), Bronte Velez (Dance), Lili Froehlich (Dance), Kentaley McCurdy (Dance), Jess Bush (Music), Elise Conklin (Music), Luz De La Cruz (Music), Vera Johnson (Visual Art), Khaled Hassan (Visual Art), Emma Johnson (Visual Art), Sebastian Acosta (Culinary Arts), Samip Raval (Guest Artist), Andrew Cohen (Guest Artist), Oscar Trujillo (Guest Artist), Brendan Spieth (Guest Artist), Kyle Netzeband (Guest Artist), Maria Avonce, (On-Site Administrator), Allison Gibbons (On-Site Administrator), Blake Wales (On-Site Administrator), Abby Gerdts (ASTEP Program Director)

AIA 2013_Orientation1ASTEP Volunteer Artist Team

 

Second year partnering with The Kennedy Center!

ASTEP is thrilled to partner for a second year with the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF), a national theater program involving 18,000 students from colleges and universities nationwide, to enhance the quality of college theater in the United States. ASTEP will be leading two workshops, “Artist as Citizen” and “Devising with ASTEP”, and joining a prestigious panel of judges for the Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship. (Check out our 2012 experience!)

Artist as Citizen

Do you believe in the power of Art to transform communities? This interactive workshop will focus on how we can delve beyond our technical training to harness our collective power and begin to build a space where everyone’s stories can be heard. Together, we will explore how we can use our craft as a means of ensuring the strength of our communities, our culture, and the future of the American theater. Come and reclaim ownership of your own artistic fulfillment.

Devising with ASTEP

ASTEP artists live at the intersection of the Arts and Global Justice. In this workshop, we’ll be building original pieces of Devised Theater using ASTEP’s unique process-oriented approach. Drawing from your own personal experiences and ideas, a few inspiring prompts, and techniques for devising that an ASTEP facilitator will guide you through, participants will create pieces around a common theme.

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We’re mid-way through the festival! Sharing updates from each of the eight regions visited so far are returning ASTEP team members:


Abby Gerdts, ASTEP’s Director of International Programs

* Saginaw Valley State University – Region 3 highlights

* American River College – Region 7 highlights

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Mauricio Salgado, ASTEP’s Director of Domestic Programs

* University of Nebraska-Lincoln – Region 5 highlights

* Cape Cod Community College – Region 1 highlights

* Los Angeles Theater Center – Region 8 highlights

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Nick Dalton, ASTEP Volunteer

* Towson University – Region 2 highlights

* Darton College – Region 4 highlights

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Alejandro Rodriguez, an ASTEP Volunteer Artist

* Centenary College of Louisiana – Region 6 highlights

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“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world.”

 

ASTEP was honored to give the keynote address at the 5th anniversary celebration of Adelphi University’s Collaboration Project.  The Collaboration Project is a cross-campus constituency of faculty, staff, students and administrators who create programming and events related to issues of social justice.  This year’s theme is Hunger For Justice, and ASTEP’s Abby Gerdts gave a poignant speech, which you can read below:

 

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Good evening!

I’m so happy to be here. My name is Abby Gerdts and I’m the International Program Director for ASTEP-Artists Striving to End Poverty. We are an organization that believes ART CAN CHANGE THE WORLD. We use the arts as a way to work with children, both in the US, and in Africa, India and Ecuador, and teach them health education and life skills. We’ve actually worked with some students from Adelphi, and we are so impressed and excited to see a University community coming together to explore themes of social justice.

And as you all know, the theme this year is Hunger for Justice.

The need for justice comes about when a person or group of people has been oppressed or marginalized. This can be in relation to race, politics, gender, sexual orientation, or even a deep seeded love of Family Guy. I venture to guess that all of us in this room have been both the perpetrator and the victim of some form of oppression.

We are here as a community to think about how justice can be achieved, and what exactly our role should be as a global citizen.

So, how do we define hunger?

In 2010, approximately 1 in 7 households in the United States were considered ‘food insecure’, which is the highest number ever reported in the US. I have been privileged to work with communities facing some of the most extreme poverty all around the globe, and you’d be shocked to know that some of them were in our own backyards.

Food is a power and a necessary resource. People use the power of food for leverage in many ways, both today and throughout history. Hunger strikes have become a way to bring attention to issues in nonviolent ways. Images of emaciated African children beg us to get involved in this struggle. The Hunger Games is a bestselling book and now movie industry. This is like a car wreck we can’t look away from. Nor should we.

In my global travels, people sometimes ask me if we have poor people in the United States. They often seem surprised when I try to explain the issue of poverty in the US. “But, you are the richest country in the world. How can you have poor people? Aren’t there enough resources for everyone?” Sometimes it takes looking through their eyes for me to see just how unjust the situation is for some Americans.

But it isn’t about feeling guilty for what we have; it is about being conscious of what we waste. Developing a hunger for justice leads us to live in the world in a way that is about paying attention. Being active about knowing what is going on. We live in an age where information is instantaneous. We have the capacity to know what is happening all around the world at all times…..from the wars in Syria to what kind of Starbucks Snooki ordered this afternoon. We can drive the conversations based on what we show interest in. We can choose to NOT bury our heads in the sand and instead to engage in a global conversation about real issues and about saving real people’s lives.

As part of a community of artists with a desire to see justice in our world, we have to be in dialogue with each other. As the anthropologist Margaret Mead once said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

We have the ability to encourage each other to open our eyes to our neighbors, our brothers and sisters, our colleagues and friends- to be present so we can bear witness to the struggles that may be happening right in front of us. Not just in Ethiopia, or rural India, or some community in the Bronx.

This past summer, ASTEP invested in a Culinary Arts curriculum in our south Florida program that targets Hispanic migrant children. We were responding to a discovery we made that our kids were unaware Type 2 Diabetes wasn’t a natural progression of getting older. Like grey hair, or sagging skin. They explained to us that everyone would get Type 2 Diabetes, as they munched on Flaming Hot Cheetos and drank a Coke. And everyone they know does have Type 2 Diabetes, because the food their parents can afford that is accessible for the migrant lifestyle isn’t particularly nutritious. Lots of fast food, processed food, with corn syrup. Little to no produce.  It is an interesting experience to introduce common vegetables….like raw carrots…to a 17 year old girl who has never put one in her mouth.

When I try to explain who ASTEP is, I often end up in a conversation about poverty. I explain that there are different kinds of poverty….financial poverty seems obvious, but there is also emotional and spiritual poverty as well. I’d venture to say that there are many kinds of hunger. Hunger for food is clear, but then there is hunger for equality, hunger for peace, hunger for jobs, hunger to be really heard and seen, hunger for community, hunger to belong, and hunger for justice.

As you start to become more aware of your hunger for justice, you may feel the need to become an advocate or an ally for those who are being oppressed. This can be a great thing. We need to strive to create that just society whenever and wherever possible. Personally, I believe it starts here….in this community, in your personal life….with you. With me. Between us. To do that, we need to be living out those intentions in an active way. Justice is truth in action.

I want to leave you with a story by a woman named Jacqueline Novogratz. When she was growing up in Alexandria Virginia, she had a blue sweater that became her prized possession. Her Uncle Ed gave her a wool sweater with an African motif: two zebras at the foot of a mountain. She wrote her name inside and wore it all the time. As she got older the sweater got tighter, and one day at school a boy in her class cracked a joke about the mountain across her chest, and she was humiliated. She vowed never to wear it again, and told her mother to give it to Goodwill.

When she was in her mid 20’s, she traveled to Rwanda to help establish a microfinance enterprise for poor women. As she was jogging in the mountains one afternoon….she spotted a young boy on the road. He was wearing her sweater. She stopped him and turned down the collar to see her name written on the tag. It was the same sweater she donated 11 years earlier. This encounter convinced her that all of us are connected, and every action or inaction, everything we put out into the world has a repercussion felt by people all over the globe that we may never know and never meet.

Remember that we are all connected. Keep the hunger for justice alive as you continue to develop the many communities you will be part of in your life. We all play a role in the change we need to create.

Thank you.

 

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ASTEP volunteers celebrate with Shanti Bhavan graduates


Graduation is always an important time of year, especially for the students we work with at Shanti Bhavan in India. In addition to celebrating the graduating class, this is also a moment where they can showcase their talent and perform for the entire community. A big festive occasion!








ASTEP and The Kennedy Center. Promoting college theater nationwide.


ASTEP has been working with the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival 2012 (KCACTF), a national theater program involving 18,000 students from colleges and universities nationwide, to enhance the quality of college theater in the United States.

From January-February 2012, ASTEP’s four representatives–Nick Dalton, Abby Gerdts, Alejandro Rodriguez, and Mauricio Salgado–have been presenting and running master classes at each of the eight KCACTF regional schools and at the National Festival in April 2012:

To get updates and video of their experiences, check out the links below.


Started in 1969 by Roger L. Stevens, the Kennedy Center’s founding chairman, the Kennedy Center American College Theater (KCACTF) is a national theater program involving 18,000 students from colleges and universities nationwide which has served as a catalyst in improving the quality of college theater in the United States. The KCACTF has grown into a network of more than 600 academic institutions throughout the country, where theater departments and student artists showcase their work and receive outside assessment by KCACTF respondents.

 

The goals of the KCACTF are to:

  • Encourage, recognize, and celebrate the finest and most diverse work produced in university and college theater programs.
  • Provide opportunities for participants to develop their theater skills and insight; achieve professionalism.
  • Improve the quality of college and university theater in America.
  • Encourage colleges and universities to give distinguished productions of new plays, especially those written by students; the classics, revitalized or newly conceived; and experimental works.

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Abby Gerdts, ASTEP’s Director of International Programs, sharing updates from the KCACTF Region 3 at the University of Illinois-Urbana Champaignand KCACTF Region 7 at Colorado State University

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Mauricio Salgado, ASTEP’s Director of Domestic Programs, sharing updates from the KCACTF Region 2 at Indiana University of Pennsylvania and KCACTF Region 1 at Fitchburg State University in Massachusetts

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Alejandro Rodriguez, an ASTEP Volunteer Artist, sharing updates from the KCACTF Region 8 at Weber State University in Utah and KCACTF Region 6 at University of Oklahoma School of Drama.

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Greetings, Illinois! Abby Gerdts shares her story.

Abby Gerdts, ASTEP’s Director of International Programs, sat down with an arts reporter for the News-Gazette, a local paper for the Champaign, Illinois community. The full article, which can be found in the Arts Beat section, captures Abby’s path and her work with ASTEP, specifically our involvement with the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival Region III at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.