Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Visas received

With a nod of thanks to the embassy and all the support received, visas were received. We and Bloomington will soon play host to some special friends from San Juan la Laguna, Guatemala.

The project is on! June 28-July 11th

Press Release

A vision by two local educators is about to be realized this summer when 15 students from Guatemala will arrive in Bloomington to co-create a mural with local students along the B-line trail. Nearly four years ago, Gracia Valliant and Sara Irvine made a trip to Guatemala, and while staying in the town of San Juan La Laguna, hatched a plan to create an exchange program between students in that town and Bloomington, Indiana. The group they formed, Art Across the Americas, is not only amazing in terms of their fund-raising successes (including many private donations, business sponsorships and a highly-coveted $29,000 Eli Lilly Travel grant), but for the fact that it is in reality a student-run organization. After fund raising in 2007-2008, the Bloomington students travelled last June to San Juan La Laguna, Guatemala last year and co-created a mural on the side of a textile shop alongside their Guatemalan peers. It was a bonding as well as educational experience, and they made a promise to the Guatemalan students to bring them to Bloomington in 2009 to paint another mural. Of course this has not been easy. Not only was the fundraising goal higher than last year, but passports visas for the 15 students and 6 chaperones was also a large task. With the fundraising so close and airline tickets on the rise, the group has decided to take the plunge and purchase the tickets. The Guatemalan students will be here for two weeks, June 28-July 11th. The group plans not only to make a great mural for all of Bloomington to enjoy, but to show our Guatemalan guests all the interesting things in Bloomington, including the Mather’s Museum, 4th of July fireworks and swimming at Lake Monroe and Bryan Park Pool. Art Across the Americas is still continuing to seek financial support. If you or your business are interested in contributing or underwriting Art Across the Americas, please contact Gracia Valliant at

To learn more about the Bloomington students’ trip to Guatemala last year, logon to

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Guatemalans have their day at the Embassy

Our friends from San Juan la Laguna met the Consul General at the US Embassy today, Tuesday, May 19. For many of them, the kids especially, this will have been their first trip outside San Juan. Going to the capital must have been a great adventure. In a few short weeks they embark on an even greater adventure, going further from home than (probably) anyone in their family, ever.

We feel positive the US embassy will grant the visas. Senator Lugar's office submitted a very supportive letter. Our contact in the office believes they will have little trouble getting visas. So, we are likely to welcome our friends to Bloomington!

Fundraising continues apace and everyone is engaged in preparation.

Inquiries and donations for the program can be sent to Gracia at

Radio piece and story on WFIU

Art Across the Americas was featured on Artworks, a show "examining the local arts and culture scene in southern and central Indiana."  The piece aired Tuesday, May 19, 2009 at 7:00pm.

Visit the WFIU Web site to listen to the piece, read a short article and look at some pictures from the trip.  

Link to Artworks story