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FELICITAS LENZ: From iArts student to intern, program coordinator and mentor!
It has been 2 years since you graduated iArts and you are currently on your way to finishing your second Bachelor, in the department of Fine Arts and Design in Education. What led you to pursue this studies?
After graduating from iArts, I felt a bit lost, in my pool of options; I travelled, stayed in New York and worked on some projects and took some courses in Germany. I was planning to apply for a Masters degree, but in the process, I realized I wasn’t ready to go down that road just yet. Still, I did some research on other options that would benefit me at that moment in time, and stumbled upon the shortened Bachelor I am currently in. I have always been passionate about education, mostly disagreeing with the current educational system, and that was one of the reasons to enrol in the first place; from an artistic educational perspective, I wanted to explore the possibilities and ways in which education can improve.
How did you land an internship in iArts?
One of the study requirements is to intern in an educational environment, preferably a high school institution, a more traditional classroom setting.
It was by mere chance that I was talking about my internship choices to Saskia, the iArts program leader, and she offered me an internship opportunity to ‘coach’ and help coordinate the block for iArts year 1. It required some time and effort to convince the department to let me intern here, since they were eager to keep me in a more traditional setting, but I managed to convince them to take on a role in iArts.
How do you experience iArts now, from your current position, in comparison to when you were a student? How did the programme change?
When I started iArts, I was part of the first generation, the guinea pigs of the program! Of course, since then, important changes have taken place, for the better: it is a more established institute, something evident by the connections and external partnerships. From a teacher’s perspective, I experience possible partners and people reaching out for future collaborations with more ease than previous years.
Nowadays, the students get a certain freedom to develop their individual paths and interests on an earlier stage, which is something very beneficial for the student as well as the program. Teachers work more with students’ needs, having a more individualistic but still open approach to their work and development.
What is your current role in iArts?
In iArts, I am currently an intern, working closely with the 1st year group: for this block, Arts & Entrepreneurship, Carla (the block coordinator) trusted me with a very active role in the development and setup of the program. She gave me the freedom to shape and realize my own role, regarding me as a colleague throughout the process. This is what I also try to do with the 1st years in their project: when you give people the chance to take initiative and responsibility, they take the opportunity and grow in tremendous ways.
You could say that my role in the group is that of a mentor’s: I advise students and engage with them on a personal but also on a project/ professional level. I am assertive when I need to be, but I also aim to create a safe and positive learning/work environment. My main focus is the students’ development; in the project they are working on now, it is fairly easy to ‘lose’ themselves within the group work, they are very dedicated and enthusiastic, which tends to make them forget about themselves and their individual growth.
How has the internship with iArts helped you to understand more about your role in education, your future projects?
It gives me a sense of security, like I am heading towards the right direction, understanding my role in the field of education. I always wanted to work on my own art, but parallel to this, I am finding my way around teaching, it seems like I am a valuable addition to the team, and on top of that, I get to experience the growth of the students. I realize that mentoring suits me best, to be engaged in the coordination and organization of reflective sessions with the students. It is very interesting to witness the atmosphere and energy of the group, to get to support them in their skill development and creative processes.
Photo courtesy: Felicitas Lenz
Blue Curtain, a visual exploration
If you could change one thing in the way the educational system is structured now, what would it be?
I think it’s important for education and educational policies to acknowledge the importance of socio-emotional development in learning; knowledge enhancement and skill development are always interconnected with, and highly influenced by, the emotional development. In the upcoming year, I will continue researching facts and evidence to support this idea, as well as finding new ways of perceiving and understanding the value of education.
Will you continue working with iArts in the future?
iArts and I have had a very fruitful collaboration; I believe in this education and what it has to offer. To be honest, I have been thinking of possible teaching roles for me in this program, because I am very curious to see the development of it. So maybe in the near future, if there is a chance that I can contribute in some way, who knows? We will just have to wait and see…
Interviewed by Konstantina Katsikari
2nd year iArts student