Here is what our friends and participants are saying...
Cheswayo Gabriel Mphanza, Hyde Park Academy, Class of 2012, Chicago Illinois on OMOM after school program
I believe everybody has stories. No matter how big or small, we all have stories. That is how we relate as human beings. I had a story. Actually, I have many stories. But what good is a story if people never get to hear it? Then I found a place where I could tell my stories. A place that offered serenity for my mind. A place that I could trust and give my stories life. That place is OMOM (Open Mind Open Mic) My name is Cheswayo Gabriel Mphanza and I am a story teller. OMOM was the greatest aspect of my high school career. I always knew I had this gift to be able to relate to people by telling them stories, but I never had a place where I could really tell my stories. OMOM was that cushion that my stories needed. Walking up into that room and seeing all those faces of young, bright, and ambitious kids was ecstasy. Everyone of them had a story that we could all relate to. Stories that made you laugh, cry, hug a friend, apologize, and go home realizing that there is something much bigger out there in the world than what you think just because of where you come from and what you been through. OMOM gave me a new perspective of how I look at people. I knew all the kids involved in OMOM outside of OMOM. I saw them everyday and I judged them. I used to think that I had people down-pact. Having OMOM gave me a chance to look below the surface. We often just see someones exterior, but never have the time to look at their interior. Having our discussions at OMOM helped break those judgements I had of my peers. I learned that many of them are just like me. Looking for somebody to just hear their stories. I recommend OMOM to anybody that wants to have their story heard and hear the stories of others. Anybody that has a hidden voice, a hidden treasure, a silenced voice, OMOM is for you. We need people like that because once we learn to understand each other, we are able to relate. Once we are able to relate, we able to change. Change not only ourselves, but the world around us. That is what OMOM is all about. Understanding each other so we can unite together and make a difference. Thank You OMOM!
Rhonda Gholston, Art Teacher, Hyde Park Academy on OMOM after school program & "I AM" Annual Juried Student Art Exhibition
I am a Chicago Public School teacher at Hyde Park Academy. It is with great privilege that I write to you in recommendation of Michiko Kobayashi, her art gallery HumanThread student art exhibitions, and her after school program O.M.O.M. (Open mind Open Mic. I have worked in collaboration with her in these two programs that she has presented to Chicago Public Schools.
O.M.O.M is an after school open mic program that enables students to become leaders in the school community and teaches them to understand the meaning of the dignity of life. Through O.M.O.M. the student leaders learn to develop a passion for life and living in spite of many obstacles and distractions they experience in their urban everyday lives. The students gain a great perspective of human life and coexistence in an international world. Their experience is very optimistic and focuses on the development of morals and the ability to overcome hardship, pain and despair. The students had a great experience while participating in O.M.O.M and I hope to continue the after school program this school year and future years to come.
HumanThread Gallery offers many programs and events that cater to the public and general community. They seek to provide a culture of peace and non-violence to the youth through art educational programs. My students participated in their “I AM/I AM NOT” juried art exhibition. This exhibition helped the student become exposed to a real live art exhibition and brainstorm and create work based on the personal exploration of who they are in this international world today. The students had a great experience and were able to create artwork that displayed tremendous talent and necessary messages that combat negativity and promote peace of mind.
My experience with Michiko and the HumanThread Gallery has been nothing but stellar. Hyde Park Academy prides ourselves in close knit community activities and the structure of life values. In this area the HumanThread Gallery truly shines, and for these reasons I highly recommend them to any organization that is interested in rendering their services. If you have any questions please feel free to contact me at any time.
Sincere Best Regards,
Rhonda Gholston (Art Teacher)
Hyde Park Academy
Alice Kim, Director, The Public Square
A Program of the Illinois Humanities Council
It has been a joy to work with the HumanThread Center for Peace, Arts and Education. Under the enthusiastic and exemplary leadership of Michiko Kobayashi, HumanThread makes a unique and meaningful contribution to Chicago’s cultural landscape by offering Chicagoans a critical space to build community, appreciate the arts, learn from one another, and foster non-violence as a way of life.
As the Director of The Public Square, a program of the Illinois Humanities Council that creates spaces for public conversations, I have had the opportunity to work with HumanThread in various cultural and educational projects. We are especially excited about our Café Society partnership in which we host intimate conversations about current events and contemporary issues once a month at the gallery with topics ranging from the future of public education to gentrification. HumanThread has generously opened its
doors to Café Society, always providing a warm and welcoming space for these dscussions.
On its walls, HumanThread features fresh and vibrant works of art by local artists, but it is more than a gallery. Within its walls, HumanThread presents programming that engages participants to make new cultural connections, think about the actions we can take individually and collectively to create a more just and peaceful society, and celebrate our humanity. HumanThread is an extraordinary organization that is making an indelible mark in Chicago.
Alice Kim, Director, The Public Square
A Program of the Illinois Humanities Council
Angie Yeoh, Arts Coordinator, Out of School Time, Association House of Chicago
As the Arts Coordinator of Association House of Chicago’s Out of School Time Program (OST) it is my responsibility to ensure that our participants receive exposure, instruction and develop healthy, inspiring relationship with others in the vast field of “the ARTS”. Anyone who realizes and has experienced the power, the potential and the opportunities that “the ARTS” carries would be a fool to deny our youth/future leaders and global citizens of the world a rich “ARTS” foundation and life experience. HumanThread provides all of the above.
About six months ago, after discovering a HumanThread flyer at a Chicago festival, I have made HumanThread’s Open Mic Open Mind (OMOM) a permanent field trip for my participants every month. Our first experience set the ball rolling, Adrianna, a 15 year old OST participant, who struggles with depression, stated, “I have never experienced something like that”! Without fail she has attended every trip since and without fail she is the first to always be intrigued with the unique thought provoking art pieces/shows in the gallery. I feel satisfied when I see her artwork she creates at Association House inspired by pieces from HumanThread’s gallery. Once she even boldly asked a gentleman at OMOM night to borrow his guitar and performed the saddest, sweetest song. Who knew she knew how to play the guitar? Another participant named Ashanti, 10 years old; who struggles with a lot of anger, communication issues asks me every Friday, “Are we going to HumanThread tonight”? It is at HumanThread’s OMOM night that I have watched her blossom, still mad as ever she has begun speaking in the mic and sharing of herself and welcoming the thoughts, ideas and enjoying the wide array of artistic performances of others. Due to breakthroughs like these, I will continue to make it a priority to partner with HumanThread.
It is the idea of the “global Citizen” that first attracted me to HumanThread and it is the welcoming acceptance of all people, culture, ages, ideas and art forms that will keep me, my participants and my friends returning, partnering and supporting. HumanThread is truly an organization that works hard and succeeds in bridging and “threading” together the human experience through visual art, spoken word, dialogue/conversation, education through friendship and positive human endeavor.
HumanThread deserves support. The Director Michiko Kobayashi is a visionary, strong, decisive and resourceful; she is convicted and dedicated to her mission, a global mission of peace and global citizenship. Those that choose to place faith and support, both financially and physically in HumanThread will, with no doubt make the world a better place.
Arts Coordinator, Out of School Time
Association House of Chicago