Alumni Voices: A conversation with an Artist

When did you graduate from ISP?

I graduated in 2005, back when we still had only 2 sections per grade.

Did you pursue the IB? What were your interests as a student?  How do you think ISP prepared you for College/University?

I did pursue and get the IB Diploma; my favorite classes were Higher Level Visual Arts, Psychology, and English, and Standard Level Spanish.

As an IB student, I was very interested in the arts and exploring as many different media as I could.  Truly it had always been my favorite thing as a child, both in ISP as well as the extracurricular classes and workshops I got to take.  

Because the IB is so holistic, I really did enjoy my non-art classes as well and felt encouraged and inspired by our language teachers to savor the literature pieces they had chosen for us to read and analyze.

With regards to getting prepared to move on, I cannot say that I was decided on a career even when I was already in college.  I don't know if this is common in other schools, but my college's general course requirements were set up in a way that allowed me to continue following my varied interests as I had in the IB, while still ticking all of the boxes.  I got to take exciting classes such as Painting (oil), Drawing (human figure), Biomedical Ethics, a literature class exclusively about Shakespeare, World Religions, and even a Beatles class which counted as a music history credit.  Speaking of music, I also got to be in two of their choirs for three years, I really loved that!

I feel that ISP and the IB gave me a very real advantage over my classmates in college.  I think I usually felt less anxious about studying and preparing for big deadlines, and at the end I was even able to graduate a semester early because of credits that I exempted. 

With regards to college life, I definitely had far more experience and knowledge of cultures and languages just from going to an international school for thirteen years, than most of my classmates, who had been in "normal" schools in South Carolina and the surrounding states.  Retrospectively, I would assert that even the culture shock of being there was more manageable for me than for most of the other foreign students, who had not come from international schools in their respective countries.

One thing that ISP did not prepare me for was bullying and cliques—which certainly caught me by surprise—but she did uncompromisingly prepare me for the hardship of losing beloved friends and the effort of making new friends... so in a way, ISP gave me the tools I needed in order to face those new experiences.

I remember being a child and thinking that one day I would have a place to stay in every country of the world... and I'm smiling as I write this, excited because tomorrow I'm flying to my 10-year college reunion to see some of my southern friends, and it's true, or at least very very close.

Afterthought: ISP also prepared me for very incomplete alumnae reunions, LOL. 

What are you doing now?

I am a painter and an art teacher.  In that order.  It was not true that I could work as an employee at any full time job and also have leftover time to paint, I tried it as an interior designer and also as a school teacher, but for me it was impossible.

I am slowly building up my artist/artist teacher career. 

I paint unusually colorful portraits in a style I call "pop impressionism" for the people who commission them, and I also privately teach drawing and other art classes at people's homes, for children ages 10-99. 

It's different and scary, but also so worth the satisfaction.

Quick word of advice for artists: never let anyone tell you that artists are necessarily poor, and please ignore all of the stigmas surrounding the arts.  Instead: educate yourself in marketing and business.  We do not need to suffer for our work, we need to be smarter, now.

What is your fondest memory of ISP?

Wow ... this is the hardest question of all, because that's like asking "what is your fondest memory from 1992 to 2005" ... and so many things happened in that time-span.

Probably anything I say could feel like a betrayal to another special memory, and if I made a list, it would surely be incomplete. 

My fondest memory of ISP is possibly not even a memory because it's something I grew up with but still live with, and that is the feeling of belonging to something really extraordinary.  ...Also that feeling holds a Pandora's box of emotions, including pride, nostalgia, hope, privilege, humility, and even resentment.  We were promised a pool for years!

Thank you for coming to my TED talk,

Gabriela Arosemena '05

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