Students in Ashleigh Bobovski’s Spanish 3 class at Sehome used Skype to converse in Spanish with Peruvian artist and teacher Wari Zárate. Students were able to ask questions of both Zárate and his art students during a painting workshop.
Zárate’s students have been studying human anatomy and portraiture and Bobovski’s students have been learning how to describe different artwork. She said it was a great opportunity to see her students discover these vocabulary words transform into greater meaning.
“It was kind of magical to watch how excited they were to know that we were going to be live Skype calling another country during class,” she said. “My students have been learning about important Latin American and Spanish speaking artists of the world and I happen to have a good friend that is an indigenous artist that speaks Quechua and Spanish and lives in Peru.”
Bobovski met Zárate in 2003. He visited and painted in Whatcom County in the 1990s and early 2000s and some of his work can be found in the Viking Union at Western Washington University, a local church and in Café Rumba downtown. He has traveled all over the world sharing his art and culture. During the internal armed conflict in Peru in the 1990s, Zárate and other artists joined together to teach art to children orphaned by the war. Currently, Zárate is a professor of Fine Arts at the Escuela Nacional Superior Autónoma de Bellas Artes in Ayacucho, Peru.
As part of the lesson, Bobovski asked students to prepare questions for Zárate and his students.
“He really is a special artist and has worked all over the world promoting his Andean culture and human rights,” Bobovski said. “He happened to be teaching a workshop art class at the university while we were doing our Skype call. It was great to get to see a window into Peruvian culture through the eyes of his Year 2 Art Studio students.”
Bobovski explained that her students had to focus on articulating to be understood and that they found the experience very meaningful and helpful to their learning.
“It was very informative because it helped with pronunciation of Spanish words while also incorporating the Spanish 3 target vocabulary,” said sophomore Lucy Hodson. “The experience was also very fun!”
Luke Quinn, junior, said he appreciated the opportunity to ask a question of Zárate and to have him understand him.
“It was cool to think we are talking to someone in Peru and I’m in Bellingham, in real-time,” Quinn said. “I asked him what he did when he was younger. He said he played sports and painted in school.”
Bobvoski said she hopes to continue to use this classroom technology to create these connections for students and that it helped bring the curriculum to life.
Zárate advised the Sehome students to continue to practice their work and their Spanish, and shared a view of his school’s courtyard and the surrounding hills of Ayacucho, Peru, 5,000 miles away.