Six students to expand DKU’s arts community during Spring Break

A small group of Duke students will help Duke Kunshan University expand its arts community by developing projects on DKU’s campus during Spring Break.

The DKU Artistic Cultural Spring Break Program—sponsored by Duke Arts, duARTS, University Center Activities and Events and DKU—will take six Duke students to DKU to work with students and faculty at the university. Selected out of nearly 100 applicants, these students will specialize in a variety of art forms including dance, photography, visual arts and poetry. At DKU, they will help develop art projects, hold workshops and integrate art into the DKU curriculum.

“DKU is really an area that needs to be molded,” said sophomore Kelsey Graywill, a student co-director of the program. “It’s a very untouched arts landscape right now so we want to do an arts program there to expand what we are working on here at Duke, increasing the presence of the arts and engaging students of all disciplines in arts.”

The spring break trip is the result of the DKU administration reaching out to Duke leaders for help in expanding its arts community, noted senior Anshu Vipparla, the other student co-director of the trip and president of duARTS.

“There is a need for DKU to get students to the university and they also lack the kind of diverse liberal arts education [that Duke has],” she said. “The arts has been really taking off at Duke and DKU really knows that.”

During the one-week trip to DKU, Duke students will work with DKU students to create arts projects on campus that will enable DKU students to engage more in the arts, she explained.

Vipparla added that the group is considering creating a large-scale art wall similar to the East Campus bridge so that students at DKU have an outlet for visual arts and can advertise student programs.

The goal is to build arts projects that DKU students can work on during the school year and that Duke students can return to and help update in the future, she said.

Another mission of the trip is to discuss with the faculty how to integrate arts into the curriculum to make it more arts and humanities friendly, Graywill noted.

“DKU’s programs now are very much science-oriented,” she said. “We want to do projects that ask students to communicate science through the form of arts and create arts to connect with other people.”

Students selected for the program will also be able to gain artistic experience and learn about the Kunshan experience.

“There will be a variety of activities during the week so that all Duke Kunshan students will have an opportunity to engage with the Duke students,” wrote Jennifer Bailey, program manager for the office of DKU and China Initiatives, in an email.

Bailey noted that Duke students will go on a day trip to Shanghai to visit arts museums with DKU students. There will also be a series of workshops involving intercultural communication about the arts.

“It’s very important that the Duke students will bring something back from the trip and share the experience so that other students at Duke can learn more about DKU,” said Ali Shumar, program coordinator at UCAE.

Shumar added that students will take photos during their time at DKU and bring back their own art projects to make an exhibition at Duke after the trip.

Graywill emphasized that the arts can play an important role in cross-culture communication, which can benefit both Duke and DKU.

“A lot of issues we have had recently on Duke’s campus have been issues of cultural competency and understanding the experience of students from backgrounds that are very different from you,” she said, “Art is a wonderful tool to facilitate that process. We want to encourage both Duke students and DKU students to start thinking that way.”


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