Tags: , ,

Ross Papa |

More Info


Background and expectations:
I was born in Manila, Philippines and moved to Vancouver, Canada when I was 3. I currently live in the suburbs of Surrey, but Vancouver is where I grew up and still consider it home.

I learned to love taking the bus growing up. It was great to just sit and be with a cross-section of the city and appreciate the diversity that is Canada. I enjoy playing football and basketball, volunteering with my youth group CFC-YFC, listening to provocative and hopeful ideas, designing T-shirts and pretending like I can play the guitar. I want to be Spiderman when I grow up and really do think that “With great power comes great responsibility.”

I came straight from Notre Dame Regional Secondary to Simon Fraser University not really knowing what I wanted to do. I got into the School of Interactive Arts and Technology (SIAT) by fluke. Since I didn’t know what the school had to offer, I just considered it as a launching pad to get into business or medicine. That was until I took Russell Taylor’s 2nd year design class. From then on, I have explored the field of Interaction Design and found myself subscribing to the potential, work and ideas of the field. I am now currently in my 5th year of Interaction Design at SFU.

I attended one of the Italia information sessions at school in my 2nd year. It was an interesting possibility, but at that point had little interest in it, mainly because it seemed unlikely for me to go. It wasn’t until my some of my friends and peers were accepted that the idea of going was re-planted in my head and I started to really consider going. I applied because I have seen ItaliaDesign’s transformative and inspirational effect on my peers and wanted that same challenging but incredibly fruitful experience for myself.

Experiences In-field:
I think the most profound thing that I learned from the experience was that you can LIVE life and not just drift through it. It’s hard to put into words this personal awakening, but in words that do not do the experience justice, I would relate it to seeing color for the first time. Imagine not being able to see color, but knowing it existed – then one day, being able to. I would be overwhelmed by the beauty of something that is, in essence, intangible. Living in a manner that I had only heard was possible was amazing. I was able to live, breathe, experience and hope. As lofty and intangible as that idea is, it is possible. That’s a learning outcome that I hold most dear to my heart.

About design, design process, and innovation?
The most surprising thing I learned about design, process and innovation was what was “acceptable”. In Milan, we visited the Triennale Di Milano and checked out the Serie Fuori Serie. This exhibit contained artefacts from most of, if not all, the great maestri of Italian Design and more importantly, artefacts of their process: prototypes, sketches and ways of communicating an idea. The prototypes and physical sketches blew my mind! I kept finding myself saying “This is possible? We can use a rolled-up paper and two pencils as a prototype? For real?!” (I was referring to an early physical sketch for Richard Sapper’s Caffetteria 9090). In the case of this particular process, the manifestation had no importance what-so-ever. The point was to get the IDEA across in whatever way that effectively communicated.

About living away from home?
That I am very capable of living on my own. The path to this outcome was painful and arduous, but I persevered.

About group dynamics?
I think the key points I learned about group dynamics were: the place and time for patience, the importance of maintaining a high level of personal quality, and how to be joyful while being productive.

Being patient is most definitely a virtue, but there are times when an active patience which motivates the team to finish supersedes a static patience. Secondly, high quality starts with me. That is more of a crucial part of every role I play than I realized. And most importantly, joy is possible even in the most frustrating, impossible and exhausting situations. If it’s possible at those times, then it is even more possible during other times.

In daily life?
My favorite daily moments seem to be moments that were able to connect me to home or let me compare and contrast my specific experience at home to the ones in Italy. One example would be taking the Metro in Milan. It was amazing to be so far away from home but still feel very connected to home by experiencing a globally shared experience: taking public transit. Another moment that I looked forward to every week was attending Catholic Mass in the different cities we went to. I felt incredibly overwhelmed to experience a very integral part of my life surrounded by beauty, history and passion.

During course work?
A favorite moment during coursework occurred during before one of the classes during IAT 391, our pre-Italy prep class. The morning started like many others. We were exhausted, many of us had stayed up late the night before and most of us hadn’t had breakfast and coffee yet. It was an average morning, but I had a moment to look around and experience that moment. When I looked around, I saw people who were ragged and tired, but still willing to give as much as they could muster to pull together the presentation we were assigned. I realized that these passionate, committed, and talented people were who I was going to Italy with. Even before I went, I knew that this field school would be nothing like I had ever experienced before.

In an interview?
This one is hard to explain. It was during our interview with Lorenzo Imbesi, the professor of Environmental Design at La Sapienza, University of Rome. At one point during the interview, we switched gears and presented him the research topics we, as a team, were wanting to explore while in Rome. There was a moment during the first presentation that Imbesi bought into the program. I’m not sure if it was a look or another subtle change in demeanor, but after this change, he was as much part of the group and process as any one of us. There was a specific look of engagement and interest that inspired me so greatly. I was very much affirmed in the research and work we were doing in Italy.

With the group?
It was another cold night in Rome when we went to Santa Maria in Aracoeli for the first time. We had decided earlier that day to scale the enormous set of stairs and spend some time there in the evening. We had some wine, some stories from earlier that day, and time. Once we got to the top, we sat and were compelled to soak in the entirety of the moment. What struck me the most was that I was experiencing this insanely beautiful moment with colleagues and peers that had become friends and family.

The dome of St. Peter’s Basilica at 8AM in the morning. The pictures can explain it better than my words and even then, it’s lacking. I felt so fulfilled and truly in awe of the wonder of the moment. I get chills even thinking about it now.

Be Hopeful, be Joyful and truly make an effort to embrace every situation.

italiaDesign is an undergraduate field school and research program offered by the School of Interactive Arts + Technology (SIAT) at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada. italiaDesign is a sister program to