Alyssa McLean

Alyssa McLean

The Learning Edge


Alyssa McLean is a living example of how one passion can lead to another thanks to Bishop’s.

The Cornwall, Ontario native received a grant from the B.E.S.T. Projects Fund to explore art therapy, a discipline she discovered while working on her double majors in Elementary Education and Fine Arts (she also has a minor in French).

Alyssa first discovered art therapy when teaching kindergarten students. She’ll be travelling to Thailand to perform a series of workshops for various groups, including single mothers, adults with disabilities, and children.

“My goal is to give these people a space to create,” she explains. “Art allows everyone to express themselves without words. It gives them access to their inner creativity and enables them to have a different dialogue between each other.”

The 22-year-old is hoping the experience will help her gain an understanding of working with different ethnicity groups, especially within the classroom. She adds: “Planning the workshop will help me develop my lesson planning skills for school. I also hope this will give me a good sense of what art therapy means and how I’ll be able to relate it to the classroom and help students.”

The adventurous spirit couldn’t have found a more perfect opportunity to explore her passion while bringing herself out of her comfort zone.

“B.E.S.T. is giving me an opportunity that not many people are able to receive,” says Alyssa. “That humbles me.”

“I want to find the learning edge that will allow me to experience life in a different way,” she says. “But I’m also hoping this trip will confirm that I’m on the right path. I want to make sure that I’m going to enjoy doing it every day.”

She says she is looking forward to sharing her experience and knowledge with her peers when she returns. But for Alyssa, experiential learning opportunities like this one have a much deeper impact.

“Theoretical prep work is important; it’s meant to prepare you,” she says. “But until you actually go out and experience the hiccups, the mistakes, the roadblocks and the hardships, you’re not going to really understand what it’s like to work in your field.”

Read more about Alyssa’s adventures in Thailand on her blog.