Fine arts students Haley Ensz, Lily Guillen, Bishop Rice and Celine Sengvilay recently returned from a trip to Peru with Wichita State professor Lori Santos. They spent several days working with children at the Institución Educativa José María Arguedas, an elementary school in Lima.
The group created art with the kids and helped paint a mural at the school as part of Lori’s ongoing Puzzle Peace Pledge Project (4Peace). The project involves talking to kids about peace and having them draw what it means to them on puzzle pieces, which are then traded and used for murals.
Haley, Lily, Bishop and Celine submitted applications and interviewed for the chance to go to Peru. They didn’t know each other prior to the trip, but the opportunity to travel to another country and apply knowledge from their classes appealed to all of them.
Haley, a spring 2019 graduate of WSU’s art education program, will start teaching at Pleasant Valley Middle School in August. She talked to Lori before the trip about bringing the project to her school and knew she wanted to be involved in Peru. In addition to painting a mural at Pleasant Valley, Haley hopes to keep in touch with a school in Peru and incorporate it into her teaching.
“My kids and the kids at one of the schools we worked at are going to kind of be art pen pals,” she said.
As a sophomore in the art education program, Bishop is still getting used to college. She doesn’t know exactly what she wants to do when she graduates, but Peru helped her gain some valuable experience.
“I did learn that I like working with the really little kids,” she said.
Celine, a junior in the art education program, plans to also get a graduate degree in art therapy. She wants to work with kids and allow them to express their feelings and traumatic experiences through art.
“I thought it was interesting that I was able to connect with children who didn’t even speak the same language as me,” she said.
Lily is a grad student studying photo media. The trip was a way for her to learn more about another culture and their art. According to the others, she was also an invaluable member of the group because she speaks Spanish and helped translate.
“I think the trip was really good to branch out and relate to different kinds of people and see what artists are doing in other countries,” she said.
Even though the group felt a bit of a culture shock when they first arrived, they had a positive experience. All four students loved working with the kids and making connections through art. They also agreed that the people in Peru were some of the nicest people they had ever met and made the experience even better.