Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Turning insurgents to artists

This is truly amazing:

A group of 12 detainees graduated from the Remembrance II Theater Internment Facility Detainee Art Program here July 15.

This art program is one of many set in place to help the detainees learn a trade or skill while working with people who may be of a different cultural background.

As their final product, the members of the class painted a mural displaying the beauty that they saw in Iraq. The mural was split into three parts; the northern region, Baghdad and the south. Each sector displayed three historical or geographical landmarks.

“The mural shows how there are many different parts of Iraq but they are all one country,” said 1st Lt. Valerie Breunig, the information operations officer in charge, 1-158th Transportation Company, 519th Battalion.

At the graduation ceremony, one detainee walked up to the podium to make a speech. He spoke about the meaning of the group-painted mural and also about how the class had opened his eyes to a new way of thinking.

“We want to thank the teachers because they teach us that there is one country and all Iraqis (are) the same,” the speaker said.

"We now know that there is no difference between Sunni and Shia,” the detainee said. “I am a Sunni and here is my friend, a Shia. We like to say we love this country and there is no difference between Sunni, Shia and Kurds. We drink the same water. Thanks to all who listen, and thanks to American Forces.”

During the 30-day course, detainees are taught techniques with straw-blowing watercolor design, sponge painting, ice painting and many other unique design methods.

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