Thursday, May 12, 2011

Sr Maryta Laumann SSpS - Fu Jen Catholic University, China

Over the last few days, since your dolls visited Fu Jen Catholic University, they –and you through them- have had a lot to say to us, both students and teachers alike. Although we had only four days to display them, it was worth all the effort spent. No one, who took the time to really look and listen went away unmoved. Although your dolls don’t speak Chinese, they got their message across, not withstanding barriers of language and culture, touching the hearts of young and old, students and teachers, women and men, well-to-do and those less fortunate.

I would like to thank you especially for the time you gave to my class of graduate students the first afternoon after they had seen the display. Their questions, and even their tears, told me how powerful the language of your dolls is, raising deep questions ranging from the lot of the poor, as you know them, to globalization, from consumerism to social responsibility, from power politics to ecological concerns, from movements and solidarity in the spirit of hope, believing that a better world is possible. You can be sure your dolls will continue to speak to them and myself in my ‘Design and Culture’ class, in my ‘Globalization and Development’ seminar, and in my ‘Contemporary Issues’ class. The same I think is true of a number of other teachers, who brought their students to see the display and to ask you questions on the spot. Your dolls are excellent question-raisers; their soft, gentle approach is very appropriate, inviting, indeed attractive way of reaching the young generation of today, who are little inclined to listen to indoctrination.

Dear Francoise, may be what I want to say is, that I wish you would have more chances to enter the universities and colleges, where teachers can bring their students. Such exposures move their hearts, and once their hearts are moved and open, it is rather easy for us teachers to deepen the message, that you (and we as well) hope to get across to them, independent of the subject we teach. Therefore I also wish to thank you for allowing us to take some photos and even a video. Through them, your book and poems, the dolls will continue to be excellent ‘teaching assistants’ to me and others.

Considering the experience of the exhibition, I believe your personal presence makes difference, because after having encountered the dolls, people want to know who breathed the soul into these creatures, whose life are they breathing and sharing? We can do some translation but we cannot really substitute you. Your living witness tells it all, and people come to realize what a difference one single person can make, and what a difference we can make together, if we join hands in solidarity to make this world a better place to live in. Don’t you think that is the ‘good news’ of hope most needed in our world today? That is also why in our Department I have created the slogan: ‘Together we can make it!’

In my community we discuss a lot of so-called ‘new ministries’, finding ways and means to be more effective in our missionary involvements in a rapidly changing world. Led by Providence, you have found a very creative, unique, personally engaging, and very powerful ‘new ministry’. May God give you more and more opportunities to speak His and your message through the life of the poor, neglected and abused through the down-to reality expressions of your dolls, appealing to the conscience of modern humanity.

Finally, I wish to thank you for spending time with Yuma last night. Of all those who came, I wanted her (more than anyone else) to see the dolls. After she looked at them for one and a half hours all alone last night, she talked to me about her impression. She said that she just returned from a National Conference entitled: ‘Museum Development and Taiwan Aborigines’. As the Conference proceeded, the Aborigines participants felt increasingly uncomfortable, because they experienced themselves being treated as ‘research objects’ by scholars of anthropology, and as mere means by which to improve local museums, rather than as having a dignity of their own, a right to their own ideas, lifestyle and plans for development. While talking and listening to your dolls, Yuma felt keenly that here was someone at work, who respected the life of those represented by them, gave them a voice of their own, allowed the poor, the neglected and maltreated to teach powerful lessons of reflection to the learned of the 21st century. Therefore, I was so glad when you took time late last night, though your were very tired, to allow her to share with you feelings and frustration in her own work as an Aborigines among her own tribal people, and you shared yours with her. She appeared so much brighter and lighter, when she left late at night than when she arrived.

Dear Francoise, I did not want to write so much in the guestbook at the exhibition desk. Yet, as a sign of gratitude and appreciation, please accept these lines for your encouragement and comfort in all your labour of love fidelity to the mission entrusted to you. I shall remember you with joy and thanksgiving in my prayers.

Sr Maryta Laumann SSpS   Fujen Catholic University,
Textile and clothing department;   Nov 2003

No comments: