facebook sharing button twitter sharing button


Thesis Mentor: Summer Pierre
Media/Format: Graphic Memoir

When I was a teenager, I helped my great-grandmother once a week after school. One day, she revealed a WWII-era memoir written by her sister Hope.

Hope was born in 1903 on a mountain in New Hampshire. In her 20s and 30s she embarked on long journeys to live and teach in places like Alaska and the Philippines. However, as she was residing in Manila at the start of WWII, Japanese soldiers invaded the islands, and she was sent to an internment camp, where she dedicated her time to organizing a school and teaching the children.

Like Hope, I also became a teacher, and I seized opportunities to teach in countries as far from my small hometown as possible. Over a span of nine years, I lived in three countries, studied four languages (and failed at three of them), and encountered so many people who flipped my worldview upside down. In these new environments, I felt free to experiment and take risks.

In times of difficulty, I often thought about Hope’s memoir, and eventually, I traveled to Manila, where our stories converge. Finding Hope is a graphic memoir about self-discovery, finding purpose in life, and connecting with our heroes from the past.

Sarah Shaw is an illustrator, visual storyteller, and teacher who has lived and worked in the United States, South Korea, Colombia, and Nepal. Navigating life as a foreigner has allowed her to see the world from unique perspectives, enhance her observational skills, and channel those experiences into her art. Her work is primarily nonfiction and incorporates themes such as history, family, travel, adventure, and world cultures. Currently, she is comfortably stranded in southern Maine until it’s safe to travel again, at which point she may or may not wander off on a new adventure.

Instagram: @saraheshaw
Website: saraheshaw.com



I designed “Comics for a Cause” in collaboration with “Friends of Colombia” a group for returned Peace Corps volunteers to connect and contribute to projects in Colombia. Through this 90-minute workshop, participants created an autobiographical story in the form of minicomics, and we raised funds for communities in Cartagena who are struggling during the pandemic.

We promoted the workshop on Instagram, Facebook, and through the “Friends of Colombia” newsletter, and I was able to connect with so many people, including comics artists, Colombian artists and small business owners, the Peace Corps community, and Americans who have lived in Colombia. 35 people attended the workshop, and we raised $2,500 in total.

The audience was very receptive to the workshop and to my delight many participants were willing to share their stories with the group. Their enthusiasm inspired me to begin brainstorming more ideas for workshops, and with “Friends of Colombia,” I plan to continue leading them in the future.

“Sarah has an engaging energetic screen presence. She is a great teacher and communicator which is not so easy to do remotely. Her workshop is very fun! I was inspired to look at my photos in a different way. It doesn't matter if you are an experienced artist or if you have never drawn at all. Sarah has some tips and tricks to get you going. She is completely non-judgmental. Finding your story is the most important thing. Sarah knows how to help you do it. I especially liked sharing with the rest of the group and seeing what they had discovered.”

-Carol Silverman, Workshop Participant