“Rikushaiki” means “I see you” in Quechua

“Rikushaiki” means “I see you” in Quechua, an indigenous language of Bolivia, and so, it’s the perfect title for a children’s art exchange across 5,000 miles.

Brookside students learning about Bolivia

As I read about Yapay Bolivia’s support of the children at Musuq Sunqu, I wanted the children of my city in Springville, Utah to somehow connect with these children in Bolivia.

Brookside students making Bolivian Art

An art exchange seemed a great way to so this. And so in February I began art projects with the children of Brookside Elementary, all on the theme of ‘seeing’ one another, across physical, cultural and linguistic distance.

Jacqui sharing Brookside art with Bolivia

Then in April, loaded with the Brookside Elementary drawings, I traveled to Bolivia and finally got to meet the children of Musuq Sunqu. Never have I felt so welcome! The children were eager to see what “los niños de lejos” (the children from afar) had drawn for them, and to have the chance to make drawings in return.

Musuq Sunqu student showing his art

While there, I saw what a valuable program Musuq Sunqu is, giving these children such attentive help with homework, healthy snacks and a safe, positive environment for their after school hours. One teacher told me, “Thank you for coming. We live so far out in the country that people forget about us.”

Brookeside student art

When I returned to Utah, Brookside Elementary hosted an Art Night, featuring the “Rikushaiki – I See You” art exchange. One large wall was filled with drawings from Musuq Sunqu. Another, with hundreds of imaginary creatures that the Brookside students had made in imitation of the traditional Jalq’a weavings of Bolivia.

Musuq Sunqu art displayed in Brookeside

One 4th grade teacher at Brookside Elementary, Miranda Graves, summed it up well, “This project has connected our students to children thousands of miles away. As we see each other’s artwork, we realize that we’re all really not that different. It has been the opportunity of a lifetime to connect our hearts with others through art.”

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