- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 15, 2006


Fifteen high-school students at Heifer International’s Perryville ranch are giving new meaning to the concept of the starving artist: They’ve actually starved for their art.

The students are participating in Heifer’s Llama Drama program, an 11-day workshop designed to teach the students how art — spoken word, song, dance and visual art — can help spread the nonprofit’s mission to end world hunger and create a socially and environmentally sound world.

“Our goal is to inspire them to take action, and these kids are inspired through art,” said Michelle Dusek Izaguirre, Heifer’s global education manager.

The students were chosen for the program based on their interest and experience in theater, said Tim Newman, manager of school programs at the ranch. Participants were chosen from about 30 applicants and came from across the United States and from Toronto, he said.

Their ranch experience began Aug. 1 as they sweated through two days in the global passport program to see what it’s like to live a life of poverty and hunger.

The students were divided into three groups and given little food; worked long hours in the hot Arkansas sun milking goats, tending chickens and shoveling compost; and slept in homes mimicking conditions in the Mississippi Delta, Tibet and Mozambique.

“The program is meant to be part of their inspiration. It’s meant to be the foundation for the workshop,” said Miss Dusek Izaguirre.

After the two days in the global village, the students began classes in the theater arts. Llama Drama director Teresa Morrow and a staff of six others helped the students digest their global village experiences and turn them into pieces that were performed at the Robinson Center Auditorium in Little Rock.

The hardships they endured while in the global village provided them inspiration, said Kelsey Trotter, 17, of Little Rock.

“We got an intimate look at what it’s like to have to live in those conditions,” she said. “Using that, we wanted to display some of the darker sides of what we went through — all the emotions and the stress.”

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