Vanessa Smith (2015)

Name: Vanessa Smith
Field of Study: Anthropology
Expected Graduation: 2017
Summer Program: Princeton Global Seminar: Images in Transition
Program Location: Santiago, Chile

Relevance of the Program:

Vanessa is a student athlete at Princeton and a part of the Varsity Women’s Basketball Team. Majoring in cultural anthropology, her interests lie in pre-Colombian studies, ancient art, and Spanish. She is from Cleveland, Ohio and has travelled only to Europe (Spain and Ukraine), but would like to continue to travel and will be in South America for the first time this summer. Vanessa believes strongly in community development, and becoming a citizen of the world through continued exploration and education. She intends on attending graduate school after graduation to pursue a PhD and become a college professor.

Recap of Vanessa’s Experience:

This summer, thanks to the generosity of the Bruce Alan Ebersole Scholarship I had the opportunity to spend 10 weeks in Santiago, Chile participating in a Global Seminar that focused on Chilean political and social history through an artistic lens. This experience was eye-opening, visceral, and left me with a profound awareness of the impact and importance of art as a public voice and a source of documentation. Chilean art during and after the dictatorship in the 70’s and 80’s served as a platform for social critic, a voice against injustice, and a stark declaration of the truths of the atrocities committed during this time period. The promulgation of art during and after this time served as cultural artery that sustained society and Chile’s history in many ways. From this class, I have taken on a new understanding of the power of images and art, I have garnered a heightened consciousness to the underlying and structural history of a contemporary culture, and a new found appreciation of performing arts and written word.

Being completely immersed in culture whose history still reverberates within its present is an uncanny experience that I will never forget. Only 40 years removed from the most significant cultural and political rupture in the fabric of Chilean society, the streets and buildings of Santiago still echo its history, and Chilean art continues to tell the story of the foregoing and ongoing struggles of this country.

During my time there I visited art museums, travelled to the largest port city of Valparaiso to see cultural centers and historically significant sites. One of the highlights of my trip was visiting the Atacama desert in the North of Chile and learning about the intersection of temporalities (time and space) and how the desert and the night sky, littered with stars, both suspended time and preserved the history of Chile.

This experience was formative in my academic and potential career path as it sharpened my Spanish speaking abilities, tuned my aptitude for cultural exchange and fed my zeal for art and its role in shaping cultures. I am so thankful to the BAE scholarship for their support on this amazing endeavor.