What’s on your bucket list? What do you want to do before you die? Candy Chang, an artist and urban planner from New Orleans, decided to turn this simple, yet deep question into an art project after losing someone she loved very much. With the help of friends, she painted the sides of a dilapidated house in her neighborhood with chalkboard paint, and she stenciled, “Before I die, I want to …” on the wall and allowed people to express their hopes and dreams for the world to see.
Several students at the University of North Dakota heard about this project and wanted to find a way to bring it to campus. Together, the University Program Council and Students Today, Leaders Forever planned and created an 8-foot-by-36-foot wall in the Student Involvement Office, located in the Memorial Center, covered it with chalkboard paint, and painted it with similar stenciling.
For the last month, students, faculty, staff, and visitors have come in to write on and read the wall. In the end, the wall contained things like, “See the Vikings win a Super Bowl,” “Go into space,” and “Overcome my eating disorder.” The range and spectrum of ideas are amazing. Some students got creative and drew art with theirs. Others began to write, “Ditto” or “Like” by things they also wanted to do.
While the students had developed a plan for what to do if inappropriate things were written on the wall, they placed a sign by it explaining the project and asking people to be respectful, and this never became an issue. The wall was in a location that was open and unstaffed on evenings and weekends.
This program is one that I would wholeheartedly do again. Students were able to express things they may not have shared with others on campus. And several people were prompted to say, “Wow, there are so many things I want to do,” or “I’ve never really thought of it that way before.” One Friday night, we had a faculty member bring his wife in just to read the wall with him.
How are you prompting reflection and dreaming on your campus? What would you like to do before you die?
More information about Candy Change and how to start your own wall may be found at: http://beforeidie.cc/.
Photos courtesy of Missy Burgess
is the Assistant Director for Student Involvement at University of Wisconsin–Oshkosh.