Last October 5, we set our hearts and our feet on the rainy streets of Hong Kong to join the eleventh conference of the International Expressive Arts Therapy Association. This was the first time that this conference was held in Asia and our high spirits cannot contain the joyous anticipation to experience this event that we never imagined we’ll be a part of.
Though wrapped in enormous excitement, we took time to rest and allowed ourselves for days of quiet time. These moments never failed in setting us to ponder on the things we need to focus on in the conference. As one of the 50 presenters of this conference, we recognize the need for not only mind preparation, but more importantly, connecting to our inner self, so we can give fully to others.
The conference was not the way we expected. Being first timers in attending an international conference and as well as being presenters, we felt an uncomfortable overwhelm meeting great people from all over the world. Many of them we look up to as they are very experienced and well-respected expressive arts therapists, activists, and general practitioners. But, this conference that started as an uncomfortable place for us became a family, to the point we felt that we were in a family reunion! All of them, most especially the pioneers, were very accepting and welcoming. Their humble souls drew our heartstrings that enabled us to have more faith in what we do.
The series of expressive arts activities revealed so much of ourselves and opened us to more soulful encounters with the other participants. We realized that cultural diversity is not a hindrance, but rather, an exciting opportunity to experience more and to learn more from people across the board. Our interchange of ideas, beliefs, practices, and methodologies brought forth more enrichment and even more, friendship.
We conducted the workshop entitled, “Cultivating Connectedness with Expressive Art Meditation” in the afternoon session of October 8. This workshop was specifically designed to give a quiet space for us expressive arts practitioners, to reconnect to their true self in the pursuit of giving more to the people we serve. Again, just like here in the Philippines, synchronicity happened. The interweaving of stories united us into cultivating the connection that binded us as human beings — being there for each other. We were almost in tears when the participants expressed their gratitude, seeing that we prepared everything carefully, and for our presence that was deeply felt in the session. But, as facilitators, we were more thankful for their total engagement which made the session helpful to them.
Lastly, we would like to thank all the Filipinos we met in this conference. They were our instant family while we walked on the unfamiliar streets of this conference. Their generosity in sharing their resources and their passion in promoting more awareness of the expressive arts in the Philippines moved us to learn more and to love more. We were one in saying that the IEATA Conference in Hong Kong is a fresh venue to start something and to continue what was started — crossing boarders again through archipelagos to love, to learn, and to serve.