This summer Open House New York was privileged to participate in Studio in a School’s 2015 Bloomberg Arts & Culture Internship program by hosting two rising seniors from the High School of Art and Design–a Career and Technical Education public school in Midtown Manhattan. Over the course of the six-week internship program, David Bermudez, an architecture major, and Lena Chen, a graphic design major, worked three days per week in OHNY’s office, giving them an opportunity to work at an arts and culture organization for the first time, strengthen their office and professional skills, and visit a a variety New York City institutions through Studio in a School site visits. At OHNY, David and Lena were tasked with researching, developing, and designing family-friendly materials for OHNY Weekend. To highlight their contributions, OHNY’s Elis Shin sat down with David and Lena to talk about their internship experience this summer and some of their favorite things.


Elis: What was your favorite part about interning at OHNY?

David: Probably the collaborative process of creating kids materials for OHNY Weekend and thinking about how to represent 3D ideas about architecture in the 2D of the guide. It was just a very interesting project.

Lena: My favorite part was also working on the kids materials. I liked coming up with a template, thinking about unifying it as a whole, and collaborating with David on ideas. I also really enjoyed going on a site visit to the Hamilton Avenue Marine Transfer Station on the first day, and meeting with [OHNY volunteer] Eric Ball and getting to talk to an architect about what it’s like to be an architect.


Elis: After having interned with us for six weeks, what’s your impression of working at a nonprofit?

David: It’s very interesting to be a part of a work space that’s focused on helping the community and has an educational mission of exposing the public to architecture and design.

Lena: I didn’t realize the great amount of work that goes into making an organization work so smoothly and well. I thought prior to working at OHNY that a nonprofit organization was something easy to do and laidback. It’s definitely not easy–managing and predicting so much on your own. It was really interesting seeing you guys trying to predict how many people would come to an event, how many volunteers were needed, things like that.

David: It’s also just so much more gratifying to be a part of a nonprofit. At a corporation, the focus is on serving the customer and making a profit. But for OHNY it’s more…

Lena: About improving New York City.

David: Yeah, it’s about getting exposure to the city, interacting with architecture and the city, and bonding with volunteers and participants, making sure that everyone is having a great experience. It’s very exciting to be part of something like this.


Elis: What else are you guys doing this summer other than interning at Open House New York?

David: At the same time that I started the internship, I started going to the gym every morning. And in the evenings, I attend classes at the Art Students League, where I paint and draw from life.

Lena: As part of Bloomberg’s Studio in a School Program, we go on site visits every week. I’ve also been studying for the SATs a lot. And hanging out with friends and playing sports here and there. I’ve been playing badminton this summer, and I tried skateboarding for the first time.


Elis: What was the best place you visited this summer?

Lena: Out of the site visits we took this year with Studio in a School, the Museum of the Chinese in America stood out. I never thought New York City had a whole museum dedicated to the Chinese experience in America. I also really enjoyed visiting the New York Botanical Garden. It was amazing to get out of the city. You get tired of seeing buildings all the time and being surrounded by so many people. In the botanical garden there was a lot of space to wander and appreciate the beauty of nature.

David: There are multiple sites that I enjoyed, but my favorite was the Children’s Museum of the Arts because not only do they have a mission to educate youth about art but they also show how adults in the art field interact with children.


Elis: Where do you see yourself in ten years?

David: I’m very confident I’m going to be an architect and a contemporary artist in ten years. And I’m going to continue my studies in the arts until the day I die. It’s just something I enjoy. I love architecture and art, the way they go hand in hand. You can never stop learning.

Lena: [Laughs] I have no idea. Hopefully, I’ll have a great job and be surrounded by great friends. In ten years I’ll most likely be in New York.


Elis: This questions a little more personal, but what inspires you?

David: This is really personal! I grew up with a lot of people around me who had to give up their dreams to better themselves to create opportunities for their children. My family struggled for generations, and that inspires me to go out and take initiative as a young adult to persevere in what I want to do. And you know, pave the way for my children as well, but also pave the way for myself through hard work. Bettering the world also inspires me. Even though there can be a lot of negative light in the world, I’m always trying to make things better.

Lena: My sister inspires me. She’s always pushed me ever since I was young, as long as I can remember. I remember this one incident in second grade when I came home with twos, which is like a 50, and she was really disappointed. She was like “What are you doing? School? Why are you not applying yourself?” That was probably my wake-up call. After that, she started helping me school and with my vocabulary, and labeled everything around the house. And then started I started noticing her excelling in school and I wanted to be the same way. She’s my role model.




Elis: Last question, tell us a fun fact about yourself!

Lena: I love making funny faces and I love people who make funny faces and join me. They can always ride out an awkward moment and it’s always great to make someone laugh.

David: I enjoy doing judo. It’s a very intense hobby I have. Right now I’m in a very long vacation from it because school ended, but I usually practice three days a week. I’m in a nonprofit organization that helps inner city Bronx kids under 18 who can’t pay for martial arts classes.

A big Open House New York thanks to David and Lena for all their hard work this summer!