Community News

China Trip and Enriching Experience For Seaford Art Teachers

An eight-day trip to an artist village in China was the experience of a lifetime for two art teachers in the Seaford School District. Melinda DiGiovanna and Jamie LaSota were selected for the program through the through the Hua Quan Village Art and Culture Foundation and were part of a 20-person team under the guidance of Seung Lee, the director of fine arts at LIU Post.

Ms. DiGiovanna teaches at Seaford High School and Ms. LaSota is at the high school and Seaford Manor Elementary School. Since returning from the late May trip, they have presented at faculty meetings to share their experiences.

“Picking the best part of it, I don’t know that I can,” Ms. DiGiovanna said. “It felt like we were at an art resort.”

Hua Quan Village hosted several artists in residence during their trip and the teachers got to watch them create. They also were able to attend a gallery opening for those artists. Additionally, Ms. DiGiovanna and Ms. LaSota got to see British artist Julian Beever complete a permanent art installation in the village. When he was done, he spent time with the group of visiting art educators.

The teachers helped create artwork that will be on display in China for years to come, completing individual pieces and contributing to group projects. Professor Lee created a drawing on 20 small panels and every artist in his group was able to paint one. Local high school students visited the studio and each chose his or her favorite panel to recreate on large scale, working with the art educators in Professor Lee’s group. The completed mural was brought to their school to display.

“It was such a great experience because even though we spoke different languages, we were all able to communicate through art,” Ms. LaSota said.

Ms. DiGiovanna and Ms. LaSota learned much about Chinese culture by taking different classes taught by visiting artists such as Chinese painting, pottery and calligraphy, as well as, Chinese medicine, cooking and yoga. They visited the Great Wall of China, an experience they described as incredible and surreal, and documented their tour by taking pictures to share with their students and colleagues in Seaford.

After returning from their trip, the teachers said that their students were very curious about their experience and had many questions about the cultural differences between the United States and China. Ms. DiGiovanna said that the walls of the artist village were covered in artwork, and she wants to work with Seaford High School’s mural club to create more art throughout the district. The goal is to have each school create a mural inspired by the Miracle Mural in Hua Quan Village.

Using their experiences from this trip, Ms. DiGiovanna wants to add a calligraphy unit to her art classes, while Ms. LaSota plans to further incorporate Chinese culture into Manor’s annual International Week celebration.

“The expectation is that we take what we have learned from our stay at the village about the Chinese culture and share it when we return home,” Ms. LaSota said. “This is an important concept to share with our students as it relates to any experience. It is a good routine to practice — being open to learning something new.”

Ms. DiGiovanna and Ms. LaSota added that they are very grateful for the opportunity and support they have received from the district and community, and will apply what they have learned from this experience for a very long time.

Photo caption: Seaford art teachers Melinda DiGiovanna, left, and Jamie LaSota visited the Great Wall of China as part of their eight-day cultural experience through the Hua Quan Village Art and Culture Foundation.


Photo courtesy of the Seaford School District



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