Profile: Trinh Nguyen

Trinh Nguyen is an art education major here at Temple University. She volunteers at Alain Locke Elementary School in West Philadelphia with the Social Emotional Awareness Community Art Program. This program was founded by second grade teacher, Patricia Fox, and Temple graduate, Sam Colon. SEAC strives to show the importance of mental health and expression through art. Nguyen has volunteered with this program for two years and is currently working on her practicum with Mrs. Henao, the art education teacher at Alain Locke. 

SEAC aims to help students achieve the literacy point by donating books to the school and offering personalized teaching sessions. The students recently read “Last Stop on Market Street.” The book tells a heartfelt story about a young African- American boy named CJ, who was raised by his grandmother in a lower class neighborhood. The book touches upon many personal issues that current Alain Locke students suffer on a daily basis. Around five different homeless shelters from the Philadelphia area feed into Alain Locke Elementary.

 “It’s extremely heartbreaking to see what these kids go through and we must rise to the challenge of making art with limited resources,” Nguyen said.

Nguyen is a firm believer in the SEAC program’s message and hopes to teach the value of emotional awareness to the kids. The program strives to help these children understand the situation they are living in and find diverse ways to cope with it. The art projects serve as an outlet for these kids to express their feelings, as well as to give them an opportunity to be just kids for once. Even if it's just drawing with crayons on some old printer paper, the program wants these kids to express their feelings.

Because of the limited resources at the school, Mrs. Henao has had to get creative by incorporating cheap materials to make art. The kids have experimented in 3D shapes using air dry clay to create fun sculptures.

“I love watching their talents grow beyond my eyes despite their adversities and lack of resources. It allows me to keep an open perspective,” Nguyen said.

Nguyen expresses the immense opportunities that the Tyler School of Art and the local art community has to offer to give back to those in need. After this experience, Nguyen hopes to continue working in Philadelphia elementary schools beyond college and voicing the need for emotional awareness and art.

You can donate to Alain Locke Elementary School by clicking here.