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(From left to right)  Esperanza Hope, Cristián Fonseca, Dusan Ivelic e Isidora Aliaga.
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UC Chile Students Travel to the United States to Participate in the Emerging Creatives Student Summit

The UC Chile Office Arts and Culture awarded four students scholarships to attend the 2023 Emerging Creatives Student Summit, a conference held in Cincinnati, Ohio and organized by the Alliance for the Arts in Research Universities (a2ru). The students, who come from different majors, campuses, and regions of the country, found this experience to be transformative. Let's delve into their stories... If you want to participate in the upcoming 2024 Summit, make sure to participate in the Interdisciplinary Workshop (Tallarinata) scheduled for June 2 at the UC Innovation Center.

(From left to right)  Esperanza Hope, Cristián Fonseca, Dusan Ivelic e Isidora Aliaga.

photo_camera Thanks to the scholarships provided by the Office of Arts and Culture, four UC Chile students engaged in a truly enriching experience. They were able to share with international students and professors in an interdisciplinary setting, emphasizing innovation and design. Photo: (from left to right) Esperanza Hope, Cristián Fonseca, Dusan Ivelic, and Isidora Aliaga/Credit: César Cortés).

The unexpected news of their selection caught them off guard. From March 2 to 5, four students from UC Chile found themselves in Cincinnati, Ohio, United States, embarking on an exciting journey. Why? They were there to participate in the Emerging Creatives Student Summit, an event organized by a2ru, a prominent art research network which includes UC Chile as a member. This network is the most significant of its kind in the United States.

Cristian Fonseca, Isidora Aliaga, Esperanza Hope, and Dusan Ivelic, from Arica, Rancagua, Temuco, and Punta Arenas respectively, embarked on an activity packed week, which included museum visits, campus tours, meetups with professionals, and interactions with students from across the United States. Their itinerary also included going on tours, trying typical American food, and taking selfies. 

Miryam Singer, Director of the Office of Arts and Culture (DAC), of the UC Chile Office of the Vice President for Research, reflects on the inception of the partnership with a2ru. According to her, there had been a longstanding quest for inspiration in tackling interdisciplinary challenges through the lens of the arts. “When Daniela Millar, a valued collaborator of DAC with a penchant for exploring the depths of the Internet, stumbled upon this organization, an epiphany struck: perhaps the answers to our burning questions lay within. Vice President Pedro Bouchon enthusiastically embraced the idea, and together with Alexei Vergara, the then director of the School of Theater, we ventured to a conference in Boston. There we realized we had the same struggles as everyone else! It was a relief to see that we were not alone in navigating the intricate space of arts within universities.” 

Since 2019, the DAC has been actively working on a scholarship so UC Chile students could have the chance to partake in the Emerging Creatives Student Summit.  As Miryam Singer explained, DAC serves as the "visible representation of a greater commitment aimed at fostering the growth of the arts and artists, empowering them to have a strong and powerful voice in the real world. Vice President Bouchon knows that the actions undertaken within the student community today will reverberate throughout society tomorrow. Embracing this principle for the past five years, DAC takes great satisfaction in the outcomes that have been achieved thus far.”

In the end, four students were finally given the chance to participate in this international conference. Here are their stories.

Dusan Ivelic (21), a third-year design student:

The group of students after one of the work sessions.
The group of students after one of the work sessions, during the first day of the conference, in the Digital Futures Building at the University of Cincinnati. (Photo courtesy of the students)

"I’m from Punta Arenas, a region far from the center of the country, and my time at a2ru's Student Summit was an invaluable experience. It offered me a unique opportunity to learn from international professionals and share with students from diverse disciplines and backgrounds, expanding the boundaries of what I believed to be possible and profoundly inspiring me as a designer. I was able to interact with innovative technology and have interesting conversations with people who have had a very different life experience than me.  

This was my first trip outside Latin America. Ever since I was a child, I dreamed of visiting the United States, but I never had the resources or the opportunities. Since then, I’ve been studying English and searching for ways to travel. Now I feel my efforts were not in vain! The scholarship I received from DAC also gave me the chance to visit New York, an opportunity that I'll forever be thankful for, both as a person and as someone striving to build a professional career. 

For me, the most impactful moments during the summit were the visits to the laboratories in the Digital Futures building, where the conference took place. I had the opportunity to learn about the work of Reneé Seward and Alejandro Lozano, designers from the University of Cincinnati, whose words and enthusiasm were inspiring. However, what I value most from my trip are the students I worked with and shared with during the event; people I clicked with and with whom I keep in touch. 

I learned by observing how the United States works in terms of usability, information design, urban planning, and other areas related to my field.  Many times, I stopped to gaze at signs, packaging, buildings, and the way pedestrians interacted with the city. These things can only be learned on-site, through your own senses. 

The people I met opened my mind to new and unusual ideas, taking me out of my comfort zone, for which I am grateful. The experience enhanced my creativity and exposed me to problems and ideas that were unexplored territory for me. Additionally, this year's focus was 'The Future: By Design,’ which resonated strongly with my personal interests as a person and as a designer. The invited guests gave us tips on how to innovate and address challenges when designing in a world where any mistake can lead to dire consequences.

I also got to see in person the works of illustrators, artists, typographers, and graphic designers that I used to see and admire through my computer, and I discovered many new ones, so the references I have now when designing or creating are very different.

I feel a strong sense of commitment towards the university and my fellow students as a result of this experience, and I will certainly encourage people to seize this opportunity. I sense that many students feel intimidated or skeptical when it comes to chances like this."

The group of students in a bridge of New York.
In addition to participating in the meeting, the students got to visit New York. (Photo: courtesy of the students)

Esperanza Hope (23), a fifth-year law student:

"This is not the first time I’ve done something like this; last year, I won a scholarship from Santander to visit London.  However, I absolutely loved the a2ru experience because it was highly focused on transdisciplinarity and the integration of diverse knowledge, something I feel is lacking in Chile. I would describe my time at the Summit as inspirational.

In Chile, if you study law, you are expected to be a lawyer and collaboration between disciplines is barely encouraged. I met many people who embody transdisciplinarity in their daily lives, such as engineers who have a minor in film directing or biologists studying French. This conference opened my eyes in that regard: you don't have to be just 'a lawyer' or 'an engineer'; you can integrate ideas from different fields and apply them to the work you do on a daily basis.  

At the conference, we made a lot of connections and met students from vastly different fields such as engineering, law, biology, fashion design, art, and literature, to name a few.  Regarding the contents and activities, I loved that there was space for conversation. For instance, we had dialogue rounds to choose the theme of the project we would work on during those days. Inside the room, there were various posters with topics such as a transdisciplinary future, inclusivity, and sustainability, among others. We had five minutes to select one of the posters and talk to people who had chosen the same topic. I loved this approach because it allowed for conversations that we don't have every day.  

The message I was left with after a2ru was: ‘Don't give up. You can have a broader career.’ I've never wanted to follow the traditional path of going from university straight to a law firm; I’ve always wanted to do something broader. This experience showed me that there are other paths and that there are people around the world who want to expand the vision of what it means to be a professional. Not only in law, but in all fields of study.

It was an incredible week of learning and having fun. Apart from the Summit, we were able to tour the city of Cincinnati and had extra funding to travel to New York. These experiences broaden your horizons and allow you to see that there is a whole world out there. One day, something funny happened. My classmate Isidora (Aliaga) and I bought tickets to see a ballet performance at the Lincoln Center in New York, but we had been running around all day and didn't have time to change clothes. It was winter, and we arrived dressed as if we were going on an excursion to Torres del Paine, but the dress code was extremely formal: long dresses and high heels. Everyone there was looking at us! We laughed and took a picture to remember the moment.

I would love to encourage the rest of my classmates to take the leap and pursue what they truly want to learn and experience. I want them to break free from their comfort zones.”  

Isidora Aliaga (23), student of Violin Performance and Musicology: 

"This was my first time representing the university abroad. The Summit was enriching and impressive because I got the chance to use and experiment with technology that I thought didn't exist, such as highly advanced virtual reality. The best part is that I got to meet the creators, who had created it for the common good, as a tool to help society. That was inspiring.

In the working groups we formed, I chose the education area. My group consisted of people from different backgrounds, and when it came to finding solutions to educational issues, I realized that their problems were completely different from mine.  That's when I felt the educational gap. That's why it was inspiring to meet these people who were creating technological solutions because they showed me that change is possible. In the activities I participated in, the problems and questions that were posed to us were incredibly broad; there were no limits, and that's fantastic when you're trying to find solutions. We had the opportunity to thrive in an environment where anything was possible.  It was a great strategy to delve into our creativity.

I consider myself a tech-savvy person, and after attending this event, I am more convinced than ever that technology cannot be ignored. It is a tool that should not be feared. It will always give you a competitive advantage over your peers when it comes to finding a job or a project. Since my return, I have been trying to encourage the use of technological tools among my classmates, in my family, and if given the opportunity, with a teacher. We really shouldn't be afraid of it! Sometimes we think that using technology is like cheating, but it actually helps us optimize processes and gives us more time. 

The Student Summit completely broadened my perspective of the world; it helped me understand my reality from the outside and see how it is perceived by others (…). I almost didn't apply because I was afraid of not being selected, and this experience taught me to believe in myself a little more and not let opportunities slip away by thinking they won't happen. The truth is, it won't happen if I don't try."  

Cristian Fonseca (23), student of the Bachelor of Secondary Education Program (Chemistry Track):

Cristián Fonseca, one of the male students, presenting his project to experts and students.
Cristián Fonseca during one of the feedback sessions, presenting his project to experts and students. (Photo: courtesy of Cristián Fonseca)

"I would describe my experience at the a2ru Student Summit as a challenge. It was my first time participating in such an event and travelling to a far and unfamiliar country with a different language. One of the main challenges was practicing my English. 

The first days it was quite difficult to get used to the culture and language, but with constant speaking I managed to overcome it and communicate more fluently. This experience was very enriching, as I was able to interact and establish connections with people from other cultures and learn from them, such as North Americans, Asians and Indians. At the same time, I was able to share with the other students about our country and the diversity of cultures that exist here. 

There were so many activities during the event, such as panel discussions, feedback sessions, laboratory visits, and keynote speeches, among others. These activities aimed to give us inspiration for our projects, highlight the disciplines of each participant, and emphasize the importance of interculturality, problem-solving, interdisciplinary collaboration, and teamwork. All of the activities were very well organized, with daily schedules and timetables.

Another aspect that positively impacted my professional development is that the Student Summit allowed us to establish multiple networks of contacts and friendships at an international level with students from different universities in the United States, with the event organizers, with leaders from various laboratories, and with the University of Cincinnati, among others. 

On a personal note, my time at the conference allowed me to develop new communication and social skills, particularly when interacting in English with people from diverse cultures. I also learned how to actively participate, express my opinions, and present effectively and fluently in the different activities, including the defense of our final project. In terms of professional growth, I gained experience in collaborative work and understanding different perspectives within an interdisciplinary team. 

I hope to be able to pass on everything I’ve learned in the classroom. My goal is to be able to communicate the importance of interdisciplinary and collaborative work and strategies for problem solving and project creation. I would like to motivate other students to participate in the opportunities offered by UC Chile. You never know when you might win and live an unforgettable experience like this!"

UC Chile Students’ Participation in the Emerging Creatives Student Summit

Over the years, a total of 14 UC Chile students have been awarded scholarships to participate in this international event, spanning four editions (2019, 2020, 2022, and 2023). Miryam Singer, Director of Arts and Culture (DAC), believes that students "come to the university to prepare for their livelihood, but also to unleash their imagination, ponder provocative ideas, give birth to new worlds, create, and invent (...). DAC is here to support that drive, and what better way than to help these young people look out the window and discover the vast world? I love witnessing their joy upon their return and seeing them filled with energy, enthusiasm, new experiences, and unexpected knowledge."

If you want to learn more about the Emerging Creatives Student Summit and talk with students who have participated, sign up for the free "Interdisciplinary Workshop (tallarinata)", to be held on June 2 at the UC Innovation Center. Register here.

Visit the Office of Arts and Culture website

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