I was one of the few students in this class that did not go abroad and I always felt that I would not get the same value from this class as those who did. However, I see now that everyone travels in their own way, whether it is a semester in a foreign country or a weekend trip to visit a family member. From this class I learned to appreciate the significance of a journey no matter how close or short. I am actually happy that I am traveling to South America in January because I believe I will get a much better experience out of it after taking this class.
First of all, I plan on keeping a blog of my trip. Although I will probably not have time to go on in the internet and post everything I’ve learned every day, I will certainly make an effort to at least write down what happens in order to organize and record them later on.
Just like in Krik? Krak!, I plan on writing letters home about the things I do. These letters will be like a blog except it will be a way to share my experiences with my family at home. In this class all semester I enjoyed listening to the life-changing experiences everyone else had because I truly connected with them. My parents are paying for this trip so the least I can do is keep them informed of my experiences and they can try to relate to them. With computers and the internet being everywhere there’s no reason why I couldn’t e-mail many of my family and friends a few times telling them all about who I’ve met and what I’ve learned. Also like Krik? Krak! I plan to tell many stories when I get home in the hopes that the people who weren’t fortunate enough to travel with me to South America can share some of the knowledge I gained while over there.
This evening we had a class for my trip to South America where we watched a video on Argentina’s culture and how Americans should interact with the people. One of the things the video showed was that Argentine people are not too happy with American politics. This does not mean they hate Americans as individual people, but they do hate America as a whole. Because of this, the video encouraged us to go out of our way to be nice the people of Argentina and show them that Americans can be good people too. Immediately I thought of some of the readings from this class, which emphasized respecting foreign cultures and even more so, respecting the individuals of such cultures. I will be open-minded and respectful to anyone I meet in my travels and I would hope a visitor to the United States would do the same.
Another thing that was mentioned in the video was that Argentines speak Spanish, and their own kind of Spanish dialect known as Castazano. Unfortunately I don’t speak a word of Spanish, but I have realized from this class that there is so much more to be communicated than just through language alone. Our teacher for this trip told us that the locals always befriend the students on the trip and take them out to the clubs at night to show them the local dances and what a typical night is like. I can only imagine what an experience it will be to meet someone from a foreign continent and not even speak the same language as them yet share an evening just as I would with a Loyola student on a typical Friday night.
Finally, I plan to reflect on my trip daily just as we did in class the other day. It was amazing to see how much I got out of my relatively lazy day just by going back and thinking about all my choices and interactions. Although I only get a ten day trip to Chile and Argentina, I know that if I reflect daily I can amplify the learning experiences I have. I will be encountering so many new people, places, and ideas that it is only right I take it all in as slow as possible. This semester has already flown by so quickly that I can only imagine how quick a ten day trip to South America would pass me by. By using this method of reflection practiced by both Jesuits and Buddhists, I can get the most out of my trip.