Casey Correa ’14, a visual arts and English major, has a Community Matters in Maine fellowship this summer to bring art classes to disadvantaged children. She is interning with ArtVan, a “free mobile arts therapy program” based in Bath, Maine. The nonprofit transports art supplies and art teachers “via a colorful painted van to children, teens and adults who have the least amount of social services, after-school and summer activities available to them,” ArtVan’s website says.
Each summer, the McKeen Center places students with local nonprofits to address community issues while strengthening campus-community partnerships. Correa recently answered some questions about her internship via email.
Bowdoin Daily Sun: What’s an average day at ArtVan like for you?
Casey Correa: ArtVan is, by nature, a fast-paced and (quite literally) mobile environment. My responsibilities change depending on the day of the week. One morning I could be a passenger on the van, heading to Lewiston to work with the toddlers of Somali refugees, and the next I am helping a middle schooler, who lives no more than five to ten minutes away from me, paint a piece of pottery.
BDS: What attracted you to this opportunity?
CC: My passion for art has grown immensely during my time both on campus and during my semester off campus at the San Francisco Art Institute last year. Upon recommendation from my softball coach, I looked into the opportunity with ArtVan, and was immediately intrigued and excited to apply. Being the oldest of three and a part of a large extended family, as well as experiencing years of coaching and babysitting growing up, I have grown to really love and understand working alongside kids. I feel so fortunate to have the unique opportunity to work with ArtVan because it allows me to explore and develop multiple areas of my own interest while really making a difference for kids in Maine.
BDS: What are your expectations for the summer?
CC: I am hoping to take full advantage of everything the amazing staff at ArtVan has to teach me about the intricacies of running an exceptional non-profit organization. I will be focusing on two to three programs weekly, including one at Oliver Place, a group home for teenagers in Bath, Maine. I will also familiarize myself with the development side of things by working in the office on grants, social media, promotions, fundraisers and newsletters.BDS: What do you think you will be uniquely contributing to the organization this summer (or have been already)?
CC: I think the most important thing is that at the end of the day, I WANT to be there. I love making art and talking to kids, and if I get to do that every day, I think that I am benefiting as much as anyone from what ArtVan does.
BDS: How does this experience fit into your longer term goals?
CC: I am a little jealous of the students here who seem to see their future more clearly than I can at this point in my Bowdoin career. I am wholly unsure of where I will be this time next year, and hopefully that changes soon. However, I think that spending my time with ArtVan this summer was the best possible decision I could have made for myself. It is fortifying my belief that art should continue to be an integral part of my life, and forcing me out of my comfort zone to look into possible career choices that I had not necessarily considered. I have always known that I love to make art and help kids, but having the opportunity to see people around me make a real impact by doing those things as a career has been tremendously eye-opening.