I have always been passionate about art and travel, so when I came across VAWAA, I was immediately intrigued. I could see VAWAA was special because it’s providing more than a unique way to travel. It’s creating a societal shift toward an open & sustainable world while preserving global arts & actively pursuing human connection.
As we begin a new year, I’ve been reflecting on my first 3 months working in VAWAA and how this experience has challenged me as a professional, inspired me, and helped me find my creativity.
Needing to make a change.
I had been feeling stuck in a creative rut and was having difficulties enjoying the process of making art. I started many projects but was unable to follow through to the end because I worried the process, time, and effort wouldn’t be worthwhile if it wasn’t perfect.
As life became more hectic, I felt too busy to push myself and believed it wasn’t worth the time and effort. Unfortunately after a few years, I began to feel a need for a creative outlet; it was as if my "creative cup" was empty and needed to be filled.
I decided to do something about it and started following amazing illustrators, painters, filmmakers, and other artists online. When I began to immerse myself into this world, I started wondering why I was so worried about the outcome. I noticed that artists are simply creating something from their personal experiences.
Some artists build awareness of environmental issues with photographs, some weave baskets to share their culture’s history, and other artists make people laugh with their drawings. As long as you are vulnerable and pursuing your truth, the outcome can be anything.
Once I had this realization, I wanted to be surrounded with creative people so I could immerse myself even further. I was following my curiosity when I came across VAWAAs job posting and loved the idea of getting to be a part of a creative community. Also, the Guest Experience role looked like a good fit since I’m pursuing a career in Customer Success. It felt like the right time to make a change plus, the opportunity to work with a small startup is a great way to gain a lot of experience very quickly.
Learning to make connections.
Once I started, I immediately gained access to an entire world of art. I was suddenly speaking with creative people who are masters of their craft and a community of brave individuals following their curiosity.
Since VAWAA is available on a global scale, it’s the epitome of diversity. I’ve had the opportunity to connect with artists and guests from all types of backgrounds and cultures. I’ve gained valuable perspective because I’m learning about different parts of the world directly from the people who live there.
It’s been challenging but rewarding to communicate in different languages and tailor my approach to ensure I’m respecting each individual and their culture. As the Guest Experience Manager, I’ve discovered many areas of improvements in communication and am learning to build deeper relationships with the artists, guests, and the team. It’s important to truly listen and build these connections to ensure everyone feels heard and knows how to take action.
Since I have a background in customer service, I was already good at attending to needs and resolving day to day issues. However, to succeed in this role, VAWAA requires a different level of service and goes beyond solving problems. It requires learning to speak with more clarity and empathy while guiding guests through the process of their VAWAA from end to end.
It was challenging at first to develop these skills while keeping up with the speed of a startup. However, everyday I get more comfortable anticipating needs, communicating clearly, and sharing my ideas. I’m looking forward to taking more initiative and refining my skills in order to provide a better experience for the guests and artists.
Exposure to new ideas.
During these first 3 months, one of my goals was to learn about the 120 VAWAA artists. It was fun getting to learn about their crafts, their process, and their culture. I could see their passion and how personal their work is and learning more about them showed me how many different crafts available are out there.
The exposure to so many examples of expression was inspiring and gave me a lot of ideas. Kimiko’s VAWAA introduced me to Ikebana and how it's a way to look deeper within us and come closer to nature. Annette’s photomontages showed me how to use perspective and depth of field. Her work looks like film stills and the use of symmetry is powerful. Gonzalo’s approach to creating wooden toys helped open my mind to new ways of thinking. Our guest Bruno explains his approach perfectly, “Instead of thinking of a solution, you just start playing, and eventually a solution will come. You can be surprised that it’s not what you were originally looking for, but it’s still something new and innovative.” The lessons I learned from each artist were compounding and my imagination began to flow.
Yoshi’s and Pum Pum’s work really piqued my interest. I’ve always loved drawing little characters and was amazed at how they elevated cute and fun drawings into complex stories. Pum Pum’s colors sparked an idea by luring me into a vibrant world, and helped me create my first painting in years! Because her murals decorating the streets of Buenos Aires are full of life and wonder, it helped me express myself in whatever way felt natural and honest.
Looking forward to discovering more.
This new found creativity helped me unlock barriers on a personal level and reminded me how fun it is to follow your curiosity. Beyond that, I developed a deeper appreciation for crafts that I know will help me in this role. This appreciation has given me a better understanding of the needs of the guests and artists looking to join the VAWAA community.
I’m grateful for this community and how it’s shown me so many different ways of expressing myself. The last 3 months have submerged me into a world full of beauty and creativity but It’s also helped me become a better communicator in my role and through art. I’ve learned a lot in a short time and can't wait to see the new art forms and locations we will add in 2023!
Written by VAWAA Guest Experience Manager, Erica Batista