Zachary D’Orsi ’14, a Hispanic studies major, completed an education internship with the New York-based Cisneros Foundation and Patricia Phelps de Cisneros ’69. Through the foundation’s internationally renowned “Piensa en Arte” (“Think Art”) initiative, he discovered the deep connection between education and art—and learned plenty of Spanish, too.
Artwork for thought. In my internship, I worked on my own versions of the types of Piensa en Arte exercises that already exist in classrooms in various places in Latin America from kindergarten to 12th grade. I created educational exercises to guide students in thinking abstractly and in realizing that there may not be just one right answer to a given situation. After I completed my exercises, I worked with my supervisors to pair them with artwork from the Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros.
Brushing up and crafting connections. Prior to my internship, I did not have much of a background in art, other than a basic art class I took in high school. During the first part of my internship, I read tons of material about Piensa en Arte and all of the fantastic things it has accomplished since its implementation in a number of Latin American countries. Art does not need to stay in art class. It can teach students in a visually stimulating way about different time periods, as well as hone the students’ abstract-thinking skills.
The art of immersion. I had never been in a place, other than Hispanic Studies courses here at Wheaton, where Spanish was a primary language used. It turns out that my internship experience was very helpful in improving my Spanish ability. Being able to hear native speakers from all over the world speak the language was a great tool in making me more comfortable and confident in my own abilities.
Linking up with a legend. One of the coolest aspects of my internship was being able to work with the renowned [multi-media conceptual] artist and Piensa en Arte pedagogical advisor, Luis Camnitzer. On multiple occasions, I was able to meet with Luis, via Skype, to share my ideas with him and to get his input on where I should go from there. It was an experience I know that I’ll value forever.
Interview by Alex Cilley ’14