Dubai's creative hub to learn art in unconventional way

Dubais creative hub to learn art in unconventional way
Jesika Menon and her husband Ashwin help kids unleash their creativity through different means of artistic expression. The couple offers training to children as well as adults- Photo by Shihab

Dubai - Meet an Indian couple who seeks to fill the gap in creative education.


Dhanusha Gokulan

Published: Wed 13 Apr 2016, 12:00 AM

Last updated: Wed 13 Apr 2016, 8:45 AM

One glance at the Gaia Creative Education Centre in Oud Metha, Dubai, is enough to realise that 'conventional education and learning' is not on the agenda.
The walls, furniture, and overall décor of the creative hub are coated in vivid, psychedelic colours; making the place inviting to children as well as adults, across all age groups.
Pointing at a giant mural on the right-hand side of the learning centre, teacher, and one of founders of the Gaia Centre, Jesika Menon said: "Our students from the last summer camp batch painted that wall.We asked them about the key things that they learned from the Gaia Centre and this was the end-product."
Home to 147 students, the Gaia Centre teaches art, speech and drama, poi, communication skills, and creative writing for both children and adults. It also trains students for international examinations and certifications from the Trinity College London.
While Jesika teaches her students communication, speech and drama, husband Ashwin holds classes on art and illustration. Though the Oud Metha Centre officially opened in 2013, the couple has been teaching students various art and communication skills since 2008.
"I've personally been involved in the teaching profession for 20 years. I've been with Trinity for about that long as well," she said.
Her husband Ashwin left behind a successful career in advertising to teach at the Gaia. The Gaia Centre focuses on teaching theatre and performance arts with a special focus on betterment of communication skills.
"For our courses in speech and drama and communication, we offer Trinity College of London Certification as well," said Jesika.
A lot of the education is done through gaming. The Centre organises gaming and movie nights.
The Centre works very closely with the Middle East Comic Con in Dubai as well as the Emirates Airlines Literature Festival, where students showcase their theatre and art skills. The couple strongly believes that there is a dearth of creative education in Dubai and the Centre aims to fill that gap.
"We believe in individualised approach and we work very closely with the parent to create a training plan for the student," he said.
Shantanu Venugopal (19), a long-time student of the centre who now volunteers as a theatre trainer said: "I came to Gaia with too much energy and I had no idea what to do with all that energy.Learning with Jesika and Ashwin taught me to channel that energy in the right direction."
Another long-term student Shehara David (24), who now works with the Gaia Centre, said: "I studied finance in college. However, I've learned so much from my experiences in the centre, that I decided to let go of that and work here with them."

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