Nick Zanette

From January to June 2012 I worked as an intern, the first of its kind, for Ecléctico Internacional Inc. based in San Juan, Puerto Rico. As a language student (Spanish in my case) from the University of Manchester, it was required of me to undertake the 3rd year of my studies in a country where my target language was spoken. My options where to either study abroad or work. Naturally I opted for the latter, and was extremely lucky to have met Orlando Gonzalez, the director of the organization, a couple of years prior to leaving for the Caribbean island. 

Before arriving in Puerto Rico, I had spent 4 months working in Argentina and thus I believed I had a decent idea of what this next experience was to hold for me. However, my time with Ecléctico taught me a lot more than just the required improving of my Spanish language. The role I played as intern to the organization was far from what one would have in mind when picturing a regular internship. The organization is a small one, made up of two permanent members and others collaborators involved in different projects.   It all helped me to quickly solidify a family atmosphere and also meant that my addition was a greatly valued one.  Immediately, my role and tasks directly influenced everyone involved, making it feel as though I was definitely part of the collective. 

Initially, I worked mainly on my linguistic aspect, targeting a number of different techniques to improve my Spanish.  Not only was there daily contact on a spoken basis, but tasks such as regular translations ranging from legal documents to DVD subtitles or the organization website, served to really challenge my Spanish on a grammatical level to which, I hope, I rose to the occasion! 

However, my time with Ecléctico really opened my eyes to a cause that I knew very little about before: making the arts accessible to all.  One would be forgiven to think that in a country so advanced as Puerto Rico with its connections to the USA, that this would already be an issue of pubic concern. However, today it is slowly becoming one in Puerto Rico, and this is thanks to the non-stop efforts of Ecléctico and their unquestionable professionalism and work ethic.  As part of the team, we were responsible for giving 15 workshops around the island to various institutions ranging from museums, theatres and schools for the deaf. My role here allowed me to visit almost every corner of this beautiful island while being responsible for the video recording and administration of these events. Writing press releases of the workshops held by Ecléctico was another experience in the world of PR in trying to raise the profile of the organisation. 

My time here also permitted me to sample some of the finest works that Puerto Rican theatre had to offer as with Ecléctico and Orlando we worked in conjunction with the country’s Department of Culture during the Festival of the Arts in providing live sign language interpreting for the deaf and audio-description for visually impaired at over a dozen theatrical productions over the course of the month long festival.  

Naturally, work of this sort requires funding and my experience taught me an invaluable skill in proposal writing and organization, something that this organization would not be able to survive without. These proposals meant that I worked closely with the Puerto Rican Department of Culture and this was just another thing on the varied schedule that I experienced, ranging from press conferences to proposal meetings. 

One of the most rewarding experiences was on a project that Ecléctico received towards the end of my stay that worked with children with various learning disabilities in offering them a variety of summer school classes centred on the arts. It was a first of its kind on the island and was extremely rewarding on both the sides of the kids and teachers alike. 

Ecléctico is also blessed to have Tony Torres on their team, an extremely talented graphics designer and all round IT wiz! Though not my personal strong point, I learned a lot just being around him and witnessing all the designs and animations he created for various projects of the organization. For anyone in this field, I see a fantastic opportunity to work along side Tony in developing their artistic IT skills. 

 A fortunate turn of events brought me to meet Orlando González and be able to have this opportunity, and in doing so has opened up the door to future interns or university students across the world in being able to work with him and his organization through the recently developed Internship programme.  

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