SSQIE Make History in France
June 2015: Fox26 News reports on how 15 students from Houston, Texas make history by creating the first public labyrinth in Lyon, France atop the Fourviere.
Students Leave a Labyrinth Legacy in Lyon,France
Sacred Sites Quest: International Exchange-France
SSQ:International Exchange- Student Travelers
History of Sacred Sites
Cathedrals, temples, pyramids, labyrinths, prayer gardens all stand as testaments to the universal search for meaning and purpose. They are ancient archetypes used by cultures from around the world that reveal much about the spirituality of those who first built and used them. Chartres labyrinths, Buddhist temples, Islamic mosques, Hindu ashrams, Native American sweat lodges, African dance circles—all represent a similar journey to gain insights into life’s deepest questions: Who are we? Why are we here? Where did we come from? Where are we going? What is our purpose?
Humans have always been in pursuit of a quest to prove that there is more to this life than meets the eye, that there is what some would call a “sacred path” to our existence.
What is a sacred space? At its most basic, it is a place which invites reflection on the mysteries of the universe, and encourages an attitude of spiritual awareness. A sacred space is where questions are asked, conversations occur, rituals are perpetuated, dances are performed, songs are sung, and silence is heard—all in the attempt to find answers to our deepest questions of why we exist and our purpose in life.
The idea of a creating a sacred space is complex, encompassing a range of aspects: architecture, geography, core beliefs, cultural traditions, community stories, and not least of all the receptivity of one’s own spiritual awareness. When several of these elements come together, the result can range from breathtaking to life changing.
We have set out to honor the traditions of our ancient ancestors by juxtaposing contemporary technology and designs with the historical archetype of the labyrinth to create a sacred space in a community in a foreign country similar to what we have accomplished here in communities across Houston, Texas.
What is SSQ: International Exchange?
The Sacred Sites Quest: International Exchange (SSQ.IE) engages, empowers and inspires youth through hands-on service projects locally and in foreign countries. SSQ.IE allows students from other countries to share their cultural awareness, social consciousness and creative abilities with the city of Houston and Houston youth to share their talents with foreign nations. The brainchild of master artist Reginald C. Adams, a long term partner with SSQ, the seeds for the international exchange were planted when Adams traveled to France in 2012 to execute a public art project with a children’s hospital in Lyon, France. Witnessing first-hand the richness that the unique, distinct culture of the country could potentially contribute to the Houston community, the idea for the international exchange was born.
More than just an outreach program, this collaborative is a multi-disciplinary approach to cultural and social awareness and educational enrichment that builds bridges between international communities to address issues of education, environment, urban revitalization, creative place-making and cultural tolerance. This year the program will primarily seek to work with the Texas French Alliance for the Arts and Schlumberger/SEED, in order to build upon and strengthen the pre-existing relationships between France and Houston. Each year, a different exchange country and new students will be featured as the program grows.
The first of its kind in the city of Houston, SSQ: International Exchange is an annual signature community outreach project designed to promote and enhance the educational, historical, artistic and cultural diversity of the city of Houston.
What Types of Events Surround the SSQ.IE?
“Peer to Peer” Public & Private Receptions
These private and public receptions allowed the local host community to meet and greet the international peers in intimate settings to exchange learning about culture, community and the arts. Featured hosts of these receptions included general consuls, chambers of commerce affiliated with the exchange country, local museum officials, schools/universities and various international arts organizations throughout the city.
“Traveling with STEAM” Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics
Through a Research in Service to Practice experience the SSQ.IE students learned about what connects Houston to Lyon, France collaboratively, geographically, culturally and thematically; integrate pre-existing STEM landscapes in Lyon, France (real authentic contexts); explore labyrinth locations past, present, and future; bring to life innovation through STEM and the Arts (STEAM) using project based learning, Sacred Geometry, 3d design; and integrate a vehicle to socially share the application of STEAM in the creation of the Labyrinth to support reflective thinking and inquiry through social media. The students also had an opportunity to tour the Schlumberger facility in Clamart and learn about various careers in engineering, technology and design.
How Does the SSQ.IE Work?
June 7-17, 2015 a team of approximately 15 students from the Houston area will traveled to France with the objective of designing and producing a site-specific capstone and service project over a 9-day period. During this 9-day period, the youth participants engaged with their international counterparts through various community forums and design/development workshops.
Following the SSQ5 in Houston, a team of youth participants visited Paris, Amiens, Germainville, Chartres and Lyon, France during summer 2015 to engage in the co-creation of a public labyrinth.
The current location for the labyrinth in Lyon is directly adjacent to the Basilica De Notre Dame Fourviere.
Our gratitude is expressed to ECAM Lyon Graduate School of Engineering for hosting the labyrinth in such an amazing venue.
“Our Voice” Events at Local Universities
Local university students from ECAM Lyon Graduate School of Engineering met with the SSQIE students to discuss culture, design, technique, the labyrinth, etc. This forum was mutually beneficial for the graduate students as well as the SSQIE students as they were able to get to know each other and discuss the importance of international collaborations and art exchanges.
“Community Building through the Arts”
SSQ.IE students worked alongside community members and students from Lyon to build a site specific capstone project in the form a labyrinth. During the weeklong exchange the students and their peers collaborated on a design and the construction strategy for the labyrinth. Working in teams and collaborating with counterparts from a different culture enabled the students to enhance their communication abilities and team working skills.
“Visions from the Path” Exhibition of the Student’s Work
An exclusive exhibition of photography, video, designs, and artwork developed throughout the scope of the SSQ.IE will be featured in Vine Street Gallery in Houston, September 2015. Gallery talks will allow audiences of patrons, sponsors, community members, business leaders, students, family and friends an up close and personal experience with the students to learn more about their experience, context and cultural development.
“Capturing the Quest” Video Streaming & Documentary Film
Daily photographic and video footage was captured so that thousands of culture seekers from Houston, throughout the U.S. and from international shores were be able to witness the moment-by-moment progress of the capstone project. Viewers receeived an inside perspective from the participants point of view as they met the challenges of the SSQ.IE. Video footage and photography captured from the SSQ.IE will be edited and formatted for a 30, 5 and 1 minute documentary. Also featured on the website are digital archives of the student’s work-in-progress on the project.
“Community Commemoration Ceremonies” for Groundbreaking & Unveiling
At the completion of the capstone project members of ECAM Lyon Graduate School of Social work, students, community members, key program sponsors, and community VIPs were invited to an official dedication honoring the completion of the work.
“Youth Building Bridges” Youth Exchange
Resources permitting, a group of youth from the host country will visit Houston to assist with the development of a similar capstone project. Throughout their time in Houston, this small team of youth will enjoy tours of sacred spaces, cultural destinations, past SSQ capstone projects and experiencing Houston’s culture.
SSQ: International Exchange-France
The itinerary for the SSQ:IE was carefully developed to offer the students and chaperons an opportunity to visit historical landmarks and sacred spaces throughout Paris, Amiens, Chartres and Lyon, France. Each day was planned with the intent to offer a rich and in depth experience for our travel group.
The student travelers who explored France through SSQ:IE are destined to become global citizens. Their extraordinary journey was accomplished with a dedicated team of chaperons, which consisted of educators, parents, project managers and artists.
SSQ: International Exchange-France
Labyrinth Design/Build Workplan
We are honored to leave a legacy in Lyon, France in collaboration ECAM Lyon Graduate School of Engineering and the local community. This program is being generously sponsored by Schlumberger and the Texan French Alliance for the Arts (TFAA).
The labyrinth has a long history in France. The best known labyrinth of its type, the 11 circuit labyrinth in Chartres Cathedral, France, was constructed over 800 years ago. There is also a very historic labyrinth in Amiens which we were able see while in France. We walked and studied these labyrinths firsthand. This journey enabled 15 Houston youth to celebrate the legacy of the labyrinth and create their own labyrinth in conjunction with students and community members in Lyon.
The completed labyrinth is a 5 Circuit Classical Labyrinth titled, Synergie, with an approximate diameter of approximately 10 meters. We constructed the labyrinth using tumbled pavers that were recessed in the grass turf. It took approximately 20 hours to construct the labyrinth over a duration of 3 days of work.
For questions regarding the SSQ:IE please contact Reginald C. Adams at reginaldadams.com or call 832-208-1549. Visit to learn more about the SSQ:International Exchange.
The project is sponsored in part by Schlumberger, the Texan French Alliance for the Arts, ECAM Lyon Graduate School of Engineering and the Labyrinth Society.
SSQ:IE Project Team
Reginald C. Adams- Project Manager
Richard Stowe-Schlumberger/SEED Coordinator
Jay Stailey- Labyrinth Facilitator
Lori Farris- Parent Chaperone/Logistics Specialist
Natalie Mills-Parent Chaperone/Logistics Assistant
Charles Crumb- Visual Artist
Rhonda Radford-Adams- Parent Chaperone/Artist
Folade Speaks- Educational Liaison
Chrystal Hadnott- Development Liaison
Documentary Film Team
Michelle Richardson- Film Assistant
Sonia Azad-Media Liaison