Imagine a hummingbird. Imagine a bunch of wild flowers. Imagine you could get someone out of mixing both. That person would be Ariana López Di Rocco. The mix is impossible in the prosaic world we insist on living. But it is absolutely feasible in the world she insists is possible.
I must confess that when I first had her as a student I didn’t see her face in class. It was an online summer art course. She was restless, enthusiastic, and very interested in every topic. She stood out. A few months later, I had her as a student again, this time face-to-face. She was changing careers at the university, because what she chose originally didn’t meet her expectations. She took a leap of faith from Business Administration towards Liberal Arts.
To have her in class was always an adventure. It was a challenging adventure. The kind of adventure every teacher would dream in every single student. Ariana would face Philosophy or History with the mindset of a business manager always aware of her surroundings (personal and global), the environment, and the beauty in cat napping. It was a challenge. You have no idea.
Now I get to work side by side with her. Better said, she now leads me as the edgy professional she has become. She is an e-learning experience designer, a concerned traveler, and -as she likes to be called- a citizen of the world. I interviewed her and this is what she said.
MMZ: Your education is kind of sui generis. A little from a different worlds, I would say. But this, far from resulting in a bad mix, has allowed you to build a very peculiar path. It has generated in you skills that someone educated in a traditional way would hardly get. I think that perhaps the validity of the old universities curricular design is not aging well. From your point of view, what could universities do right now to adequate better to the demands of the worlds we live in today?
AL: I was formally educated. During my childhood and teen years I wouldn’t even consider to not go to College or get a masters degree. My parents are professionals with multiple degrees and highly educated so I grew up looking forward to that and I did it. The sui generis started formally: music and ballet conservatories, theater group, English, French and Italian lessons, computing courses. All my mother’s ideas. I made sure to keep learning informally later.
My father always says that the School is made by people, especially students. He meant that no matter the school you should make sure your own education is the best you can get.
Universities are attached to programs, laws and complicated bureaucracies, thus, in the meanwhile, those capable of changing are among its people. Educators can make better teaching regardless the name of the subject or how it was conceived at first. They should be on touch with the real world, read, talk to the people out there hiring or creating jobs, investigate, be sure to grow themselves in their fields.
On the other side, students should own their learning path and processes, be responsible of their education (at least that is what I did, because I was the most interested in getting the better education possible). They should try to stand out in a sea of professionals with the exact same degree. To imagine themselves in the future, look for internships -even if not credited- and especially to ask themselves What is this knowledge I’m obtaining for? How am I gonna use it? In which cases? Preferably with the help of their professors of counselors.
If people can change the world. Universities change if their people change.
MMZ: Do you think online education could swipe out with face-to-face education?
AL: Even if physical universities and every kind of formal education becomes online, we will be still learning things in person.
We make the mistake of thinking education is confined to a place, a moment or a specific scope. But the truth is that we are always learning and being educated, being molded by every external input.
Maybe, formal education, specially long term studies, will go online. But as long we exist, we will still be learning things in person, by contact and face to face.
She is now a competent young e-learning professional. Trained in post-graduate programs and in the real obstacles of the craft. With a 360º vision of almost everything, she is aware of the ups and lows of teaching and learning. But she goes beyond. That’s the thing. She always goes beyond.
MMZ: Mention three fundamental skills that every professional should have today, no matter the field of endeavor in which they were educated, and tell me why those three.
AL: Wouldn’t know if these are competencies but at least characteristics:
- Curiosity: the fundamental punch to grow and learn.
- Boldness: today’s world demands from us quick answers -not superficial- In order to survive you have to dare, and learn in the way.
- Self worth: same as in college, you are responsible for your growth and progress. You have to make sure not to blend, to make sure you will not be substituted by a machine. Look for that thing you and only you can give to your organization. Demand for the respect and worth your work has. And please, allow yourself to have a rich and healthy personal life.
MMZ: Are Millennials something real or is it just a marketing tag to differentiate targets or consumer patterns?
AL: In order to learn, we use a lots of names and tags. I believe the term Millennials refers more to a spectrum that a literal definition. Yes, it’s useful to all those things You have mentioned but it doesn’t mean it doesn’t explain more or less correctly what a group of people are, do or want.
I consider myself a Millennial in so many things. And I know much older people that I consider millennials too. Nobody can fit perfectly in any category but I do believe organizations and entities should think about Millennials in order to satisfy clients (internal and external).
There is something I really love about the millennial phenomena which is that its challenging the role of consumers (something I wish will disappear) and that is going to make many economic sector to be more transparent, ethical and ever changing.
I hope educational entities to get the memo.
(I Think) She stands for Mark Zuckerberg. I still don’t know if she feels sorry for him or if it is admiration. Maybe she just understands the situation around a young boy without enough time to learn about the cavalcade of responsibilities he had to asume. Or maybe she sees the pros and cons of this social media life we have been pushed to live in the past decade without the proper skills, and she place Zuckerberg where he belongs in that landscape.
MMZ: It is said that creativity only concerns the arts and that innovation concerns the sciences exclusively. Do you agree? Do you think it is possible that Michelangelo and Einstein used both in the same sense?
AL: To me, nothing is exclusive to one or the other. I think there’s both of them in everything. An artist is a biological being, his own existence its due to scientific reason. On the other side, there are no machines or scientific formulas that have non been creator, and every creator is an artist.
You (Prof. Ziegler) could explain this much better than me, maybe I’m going to philosophical. Maybe a better example would be that a Rocket, a clock a surgical piece, all require design. A surgeon sews and cuts with the same finesse required to trace with the finest of brushes. Any Scientific study will be useless without a good storyteller documenting it.
Artists, even those who believe they are bad at Math, know about spaces, proportions, dimensions, measurements. Use geometry as much as an engineer and colors, after all, are chemical or neurological creations.
So no, I don’t think innovation or creativity are exclusive to one or other. I don’t even see art and science as distant things. And I believe that instead of trying to separate those, we should learn to be artist in science or field.
MMZ: Do you include the arts into your professional tasks in some way? If so, how do you do it and why?
AL: Among other stuff, my work is to help people learn, and even though “schools are made by it’s students” as my dad says, I put myself in the role of a marketing professional, trying to make learning focused on my audience (students) and respond to their needs. Also to make it attractive. That’s how, sometimes I am a graphic designer, a movie maker, a poet, an actress, architect, or anything else required. All of those are explicit forms of art.
On the other side, my personality is as that of any artist. I’m the typical artist cliché shown at movies: my clothes don’t usually match, I’m dissatisfied, ciclic, passionate, defiant, going back to where I start because I don’t like how it’s looking, I wait for inspiration to do anything, I see metaphors anywhere. I believe an artist can’t possible separate work from life and that’s exactly how I am. And for me anything I do is my work of art, so that’s all I can think about.
I invite you to read about art and artists, which again explains it better than me.
MMZ: Do you believe the arts could play a major role when we talk about respecting cultural diversity and the comprehension of those that we feel so different from us for any reason?
AL: Narrowly thought, one can say, arts is the best introduction to different cultures, thoughts, forms, etc. When we convince ourselves that something is art or entertainment, we allow it to show or be more than what we usually let a real thing or situation be. That’s how, inadvertently our subconscious gets familiarized with concepts we wouldn’t allow in the first place if they weren’t presented in the form of art.
In a wider sense, this creator or artist persona I speak about is able to see through all his senses. If we allow ourselves to be artist, we will have more abstract thoughts, respect the creations of others as if everything was a painting or an sculpture, see stuff from different perspectives, understanding beauty or correctness as something different to everyone, not invasive, as we do with art. If we allow ourselves to be more artistic this world will be so much better, simpler, friendlier.
MMZ: Talking about artists, who would paint your portrait just as you would like it to be?
AL: I will never like my own portrait, displeasure is my main propulsor. Knowing I’m a work in progress allows me to grow.
But I can think that Modigliani has painted me a lot of times (I have that kind of long face)
Georgia O’Keeffe painted through my eyes, well that is what she makes me feel (sunlight from the base of a tree, life growing from dead bones or things)
Normal Rockwell painted my portrait (attitudes) lots of time too (his characters usually look almost crazy, very curious, I see myself in the girl with the purple eye outside the principal’s office, so proud and not sorry at all about what she just did.)
If I painted my self portrait will probably look like something of Magritte because I consider him a little ironic and nothing it’s one thing or other and that’s how I see myself.
But, for practical effects, Gustavo Silva Nuñez will be ok. He is a Hyperrealist painter, so it will be almost like a picture. Not pretending, or decorating or exaggerating, because that is how I like to be. Also, all of his women look beautiful, confident and naked. Most of the time he includes water which for me is transparency, and I believe I am too.
I will like to leave a question for you, if like Gustavo, an artist is able to paint so precisely just like a camera, Should we consider him more or less artist, more or less talented that those who create new worlds?
An artist is that who sees. And as long as Gustavo Silva sees Ariana is a gal in transit in this blue sphere we like to call ‘our world’, then he is an artist. Every work of art is a new world and Ariana has let it perfectly clear: she loves to create new worlds every step of the way.
[ mmziegler.com ]
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