Graduate assistant Sarah Lempke is wrapping up her year with Lotus. Before she says her last good-byes, we asked her to look back at her Lotus adventures.
My brief time at Lotus has been full: of events and projects, new experiences, and great people. On my first day, I began communicating with artists and teachers for Lotus Blossoms; on my last day, I presented a project to the Lotus board of directors. Everything in this internship has been an amazing learning opportunity.
As the Lotus Blossoms Scheduling Coordinator, I met new people: performing artists, educators, volunteers, and even sponsors. I also developed planning skills that will be tremendously useful beyond my stint at Lotus. Coordinating performances at all of the schools interested in Blossoms was the first challenge, while matching artists’ availability to busy school schedules. Learning to juggle all types of tasks — from creating artist itineraries, to finessing last-minute scheduling changes, to taking lunch orders for hard-working musicians — was exciting, and I navigated the tasks with the support of Director Lee Williams and Assistant Director LuAnne Holladay. Working directly with professional artists and hearing their stories was inspiring, too, and something I will always treasure.
I am dedicated to the mission of Blossoms, which nurtures children’s curiosity about other cultures by bringing internationally respected artist-educators into southern Indiana schools. Seeing children profoundly inspired by the programs that I’d helped facilitate was a source of tremendous pride for me. I hope that the experiences that I helped provide for those children will fuel their curiosity for music — just as these types of programs did for me when I was a child.
I’m especially proud of the work I did coordinating a performance with the Brown County YMCA, which allowed Blossoms to reach into the Brown County community for the first time in several years. Developing this new partnership is one step toward providing cultural experiences for more Southern Indiana residents.
Like all Lotus graduate assistants, I was part of the Lotus World Music and Arts Festival team. Locals (including Lotus staff) had tried to describe the Festival for me, but I wasn’t prepared for how all-consuming it would be for staff and other planners. My major tasks were working with Outreach Director Loraine Martin on the Arts Village, Lotus in the Park, and the “WOVEN and CONSTRUCTED” exhibit. I was doubly inspired, by the extensive community involvement in these projects, and by the commitment and hard work of the Lotus volunteers I encountered.
After the Festival, I worked with Development Director Kristin Varella to update and redesign board fundraising materials. This was an excellent opportunity to supplement what I was learning in my graduate courses with “real life” experience. Not many graduate assistantships allow for students to work directly with an organization’s board, but Lotus was able to provide this amazing learning opportunity for me.
My year with Lotus has been outstanding, personally and professionally. I leave feeling that I contributed to the Lotus mission by helping provide cultural experiences to thousands of people, and I’ve learned some valuable lessons and skills along the way, too. An added benefit has been the opportunity to build new friendships with talented colleagues. I hope that I will be able to work with the Lotus staff and board members in the future – as I return for more Lotus World Music and Art Festivals.
Photo captions and credits, from top: Sarah plants a flag near the entrance to the Festival’s Arts Village (photo by Pat Glushko); two scenes from Lotus Blossoms — Keith Terry and Evie Ladin perform at Stone Belt, and Harmony School students watch Los Llaneros perform (both photos by Sarah Lempke); Sarah helps the Lotus Visual Arts Committee with Arts Village set-up (photo by Pat Glushko).