Well, I've spent the last week backpacking around the south of the country of Bolivia. I went to Tarija, the wine growing region, billed as the highest vineyards in the world; to Sucre, the official capital of the country, called the "white city" for the beautiful all white colonial architecture; Potosi, the highest city in the world that essentially funded the Spanish empire with its silver mines that are still functioning today; and to the Salar de Uyuni, the beautiful world famous salt flats of Bolivia. Interestingly, I basically hit all the spots that my SIT program goes to on off years - the program switches off between two different focuses every semester. The focus for my semester was the conflicts around the TIPNIS indigenous reserve and the road the central government wants to build through it, as well as the Movimento Sem Terra in Brazil. In the off years, the students in the program study the movements around the mines, as well as go to Argentina, passing through the salt flat on their way. As I was talking to my host dad, Alberto, after I got back, he remarked that I have seen and learned about more regions in Bolivia than most Bolivians. In all, I have been to 6 out of 9 departments (sort of like states) in the country. ...continue reading "Hey, now I’m a tourist!: Reverse Culture Shock Without Leaving the Country"
Hello everyone! I'm back- after a big drama with the internet providers here in Jordan! Cheap and abundant wifi/3G is one thing I will definitely be a lot more thankful for once I am in the states. It is a big hassle here to get yourself situated with a good company, and mine just went out of business so I have been internet free the past few days.
I am leaving Jordan on Monday to spend three weeks in the US before coming back. My experience in Jordan has been overwhelmingly positive, and that is why I decided to stay for the whole academic year. Undoubtedly, my time abroad was only enriched by the experience of volunteering at the Mubarrat.
To backtrack, this semester I volunteered twice a week at the Mubarrat Um El Hossain. From their website : ...continue reading "Goodbye from Jordan!"
I just got off the plane in Newark, NJ a few hours ago. The moment my flight touched the tarmac, everything about my life in the US came rushing back to me in a single instant. My phone began to vibrate madly in my pocket a good five minutes before the light telling us it was ok to turn our connective tech “bing-bong-ed” on with a pleasant chime. E-mails. Texts. Tweets and Facebook messages streamed into my hand and I was struck with the gravity of the situation: I was home.
Beelining for the terminal, I unhinged my metaphorical jaw, let my eyes roll back into my head and began to devour digital information much in the same way great whites seem to inhale schools of terrified fish. Of all the things I’d come to miss in Italy, my constant connectivity was perhaps the most important. More than my life revolving around tech, my hopes and dreams lived within the cloud. I wanted (want) to write about tech journalism more than anything else in the world. I’d scoured the net for internship opportunities at tech blogs but most of the work in D.C. was politically oriented. C’est la vie. ...continue reading "It’s (Not) Over"
My semester in Cape Town has been truly transformative. I will take so many lessons from it, about myself, my goals, and the world around me. My time volunteering with the people of South Africa has shown me that poverty is one of, if not the most, important issue facing South Africa in particular and the Global South in general. Impoverished environments breed a lack of education, unemployment, and ill health. These, in turn, perpetuate poverty, and the cycle continues. It’s a big problem, one that no one person can tackle, and as I spent time volunteering in Cape Town, it was all too clear to me that the influence of one person is fairly small, and that even though one person can make a difference, it is often not as big an impact as that person would like. At times this realization was disheartening; I felt that because my contributions were small, they somehow weren’t all that worthwhile. But as I reflect on my time in Cape Town, I realize that the small contributions I made mattered to the people we helped; the men, women and children we provided with a meal, a listening ear, and a smile. These offerings are indeed small, but they are nothing to be scoffed at. The smallest acts of kindness are still kind, and they can provide hope to those who need it most. They can also profoundly change the actor. Showing compassion and finding the value in volunteer work, no matter how seemingly insignificant, can influence the way one views oneself and the world. ...continue reading "Reflections on Cape Town"
This semester has been the best of my college career, but I feel suspended. I feel like I’m floating, wholly unable to grab onto anything concrete like degree-furthering classes and the general “real life” of a university senior, full of cliched anxieties and problems. I don’t want to leave Russia, but I should leave. To continue to live this wonderful life would be too good to be true, and I don't want to give it the chance to get sour (not that it ever would).
But here I am, acting like this is the finale. It's not over, just a pause. I’ve convinced myself that I just have temporary matters to attend to, and I’ll be back in the Motherland before I know it. ...continue reading "Dasvidanya, My Dear (До свидания Моя Дорогая)"
Along with most of AUC’s students, I’m in the midst of finals. I’ve been holed up in my room studying, occasionally emerging so my friends and I can quiz each other on material. When we need a break from verb charts and Pharaonic timelines, we play with the kittens that live in our dorm. I’m sad to leave, but I will be back next semester. Mostly, I’m going to miss all the people that I’ve become close to. But lots of my friends are staying the year, too. ...continue reading "Ma’Salama, Misr!"
Despite being half Japanese, despite having lived here in when I was young, I had some experiences that I don’t think would have ever happened had I grown up in Japan and not come here for study abroad. Originally I had planned to arrive in Japan early just to be with family and get used to the lifestyle, however the opportunity to volunteer for the TOMODACHI Initiative came up and my summer gained a new purpose. If I hadn’t planned on being in Japan for the fall semester then I wouldn’t have had any intention of returning to Japan for the summer.
This lead me to get involved in Tohoku (Northeastern Japan) related service in a way that is much more sustainable then I had been able to do up until this point. I was working with high school students from the regions who were about to leave for a life-changing learning opportunity in Berkeley, California with the TOMODACHI Summer 2012 Softbank Leadership Program. I arranged and facilitated events with Japanese university students to find out how TOMODACHI can help students and young professionals follow their US related dreams and passions. I was able to physically GO TO Tohoku and volunteer for a few days and see with my own eyes the damage that a horrible earthquake and tsunami wreaked upon a small town, and hear with my own ears stories of those who faced that horror that day. Fundraising at GWU for a region that most people had forgotten of the following year was definitely a challenge, but I now believe that I was really approaching this service for Tohoku in the wrong way. Sending money to a region is not very sustainable. On a whim a donor can decide to withdraw their decision to donate, but this summer I was given the chance to make people to people connections that have much more directly tied to the region that I think I can help the most in. ...continue reading "これからも、ずっとTOMODACHIだよ! From here on out we will always be FRIENDS!"
I officially left Singapore for winter break on December 3rd and have been in Gujarat, India since then. I don't think a single blog post could accurately describe how amazing this experience has been thus far. Looking back on my first semester study abroad experience, I can honestly say I would not have learned as much as I did by staying in the states. By 'learned', I am not referring to things textbooks can teach you, but rather about life experiences and cultural experiences.
While studying in Singapore, I had the opportunity to meet people from all over the world. I had friends from Australia, Sweden, China, Canada, France and of course, locals from Singapore and the US. The hardest part of finishing up my semester was saying bye to all these wonderful people I had met. I'm unfortunately the only one from my groups of friends that is returning next semester, but am looking forward to all the new people I will get to meet next semester. Additionally, I am planning a trip to Australia to meet up with my friends from Melbourne that I met this semester. ...continue reading "Goodbye (for now) Singapore!"
So, this is it: my last post for this blog. I think in my first entry after arriving in Prague, I said something to the effect of me not even being able to put into words how I felt about the kinds of experiences I had had just in that first week. I think now I can say with confidence that that's true of the entire semester, really. The places I've been, things I've done, and people I've met have all had such a profound effect on me that I can't even begin to describe it. So I'm not going to try to! ...continue reading "The End"
Based on Things I’ve Learned/Observed/Reaffirmed in Spain
On the subject of friends:
- You never know where you will make a friend and how quickly he or she might bring out the best in you.
- You may not see a friend often or for long, and she may not know it, but she will be the person that lifts your spirit on any given day.
- You will have moments of friendship with someone or just a few hours and that will be it. And that’s okay. The time spent together is still a something that’s yours to keep.
- You may not consider yourself a cat person, but just wait until you have two cute ones waiting for you at the door in the afternoon, wanting to play and just hang out near you.
- Sometimes a three-way friendship also involves switching between three languages.
- People’s smiles. They can become embedded in your mind, something about them you never forget.
- A hug. It can work wonders. ...continue reading "An Almost Post-Study Abroad Manifesto to Myself"