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The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

Sophomore organizes art auction to help raise money for educational crisis in Uganda

Amy Pan
Visitors of the auction look over the various pieces drawn by local students on Nov. 19.

After sophomore Amy Pan watched “Passport to Opportunity” — a documentary depicting the rampant educational crisis in Uganda, Africa — she considered the stark privilege present in her life, never having to worry about her own education and sought out a way to help.

“A lot of the time, these families live on less than $5 per day,” Pan said. “They have to make decisions deciding who gets to eat and who gets to sleep on a bed. These are situations that are so difficult to imagine as kids growing up in a wealthy neighborhood.”

The documentary inspired her to create an initiative of her own targeted at helping children in Uganda who lack the resources to complete elementary school. 

Combining her passion for art with her interest in the cause, Pan organized an art auction held on Nov. 19 in the art room. She curated a collection of 15 pieces created by artists from local schools and raised over $2,200 for Opportunity International, a nonprofit organization helping  “families living in extreme poverty build sustainable livelihoods and access quality education for their children.” 

Pieces included junior Yash Pai’s “Natures Touch,” sophomore Natalie Poon’s “Reflections” and sophomore Sofiya Malko’s “The Property of Hate.” The collection included three of Pan’s own pieces, “Aesthetic”, “See Shells” and “Citrus on Ledge,” all using varying mediums such as pen and ink, watercolor and acrylic paint, respectively.

She first approached the prospect in the middle of August but decided to work out the logistics of the project beginning in October. Visual arts teacher Joel Tarbox played an integral part in the process and was a participant during the event, selecting the final pieces of the collection.

“He was really helpful along the way giving suggestions and advice,” Pan said. “[At the auction], he introduced each piece to the audiences, gave a short talk on the meaning of art and shared his tips on building an art portfolio.”

Focusing attention on the initiative was more difficult than Pan imagined; at first, she received very little response from artists after putting out posters around the student center, cafeteria and in Tarbox’s room. It wasn’t until she said that she would provide 10 volunteering hours per artwork that students started submitting their pieces.

“This was the first event I led and I was really proud that the outcome was much better than what I anticipated,” Pan said. 

She added that it was such a pleasure to be able to provide her energy and ideas towards helping individuals and causes she was passionate about. Pan intends to create a club and continue to lead events like the auction to expand her reach to other communities.

“Making art is my favorite passion because of the immeasurable joy it brings into my life. Creativity, to me, entails taking on the world as a daring quest to unearth and share the extraordinary beauty that lies within the mundane,” Pan said. “I wish to use art not only as a way to express creativity but also use it as a way to help others.” 

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