The most memorable experience I have is teaching English at a school in Sevilla named Sagrado Corazón. The ages of the students ranged from 15 to 17 years old. Every Tuesday and Thursday I would wake up at 6:30am to eat breakfast, get ready and head to class. I had four classes that I had to prepare lesson plans for. Every day they greeted me with great enthusiasm and laughter.
One of my favorite moments was during my second to last class. A student from cuarto de la ESO (10th grade) approached me and told me that I had made an impact on her. She thanked me because every Tuesday (one hour per week), she looked forward to see me because she always had fun in class. I stood in silence for a couple of minutes not knowing what to say. Those words had meant a lot to me because I had cause a little happiness on a student's life. I told her I was lucky to be able to talk to them and to get to know them.
Further, the students of segundo de bachillerato (seniors), on my very last day were able to show me a little bit of the flamenco culture. They took out their instruments and started to sign typical songs from Andalucía. I was happy to join them and I learned a couple of steps here and there. It were moments like those that reflected a great time as an English student teacher.
...continue reading "Let’s learn together!"
大家好！Hello everybody! I'm Annie, but my Chinese name is 丁爱丽 (Dīng Aì Lì meaning, love and beauty, not to brag). I am currently living in Kunming, which is the center hub of the Yunnan Province of China. For those of you unfamiliar with China's vast geography, it is close to the Vietnamese and Laos border in the south. Although Kunming is often touted as a small city with perfect weather, it is actually a city of about 9 million people and it is currently rainy season. But you won't catch me complaining! I am enjoying everyday, even those with bouts of homesickness, due to excellent program staff, infinite places to explore, and some cheap dumplings waiting for me at the end of every day- pause for a group "yummm." Yunnan is incredibly interesting from its extensive topography, including the mountains in the north west to the beaches in the south east, to the 24 minority populations that call Yunnan their indigenous home.
This is what makes my program with SIT so special. I am learning about minority health and traditional Chinese medicine from indigenous people, in Chinese. Chinese language skill is so important because understanding what an expert means in their chosen language opens up the depth of knowledge at which we can understand the more rooted truths of their experiences. Just for example, there are two forms of and; one that adds value and one that does not. Understanding caveats of language open doors to deeper and more meaningful research. I was nervous about my language skills at first, however, 4 hours of Chinese class everyday while being immersed in the language can speed up retention times!
...continue reading "An Auspicious Beginning"
Oli Otya! Gyendi. (How are you! I am fine.)
This is how almost every conversation here in central Uganda starts. The local language we are studying, Luganda, is beautiful and full of emotional inflection. I have been in Uganda for about a month now and the language is only a part of the amazing experience I've had in my first few weeks here. There are over 50 languages within the country and all of them are accompanied by their own unique culture and history. The one we have been immersed in the most is the Luganda speaking Buganda region, where the capital city, Kampala, is located.
Other than our academic studies of the region, the best way we have experienced the Buganda culture here is through our home-stays. My family is part of the Nvubu (Hippo) clan of the Buganda Kingdom. They welcomed me into their family by giving me the name Nakasoma Jordan Nvubu (Jordan the one who loves to study of the Nvubu clan). From the day I met my family they have been extremely inclusive and supportive. They are always there to answer my questions about culture, politics, food, development, or anything else that comes to my mind.
We have done so much in this first month that it is impossible to fit it all into my first blog. We have had eye opening excursions about development, like visiting Uganda's parliament, AIDs prevention and treatment centers, NGO's helping children in slums, and child malnutrition clinics. Each of these excursions could have an entire blog around them, but for now all I can do is mention them. One of my favorite excursions so far was a boat ride in Jinja to the source of the River Nile. I am a whitewater kayaker and have a deep love for rivers so being on the source of the world's longest river was unbelievable.
...continue reading "Oli Otya!"
My identity has been something that I have questioned with my whole life. My father is Sri Lankan, and my mother is American. They come from two very different worlds – one the son of a tailor who lived in a small village, and the other the daughter of an auditor at the Federal Reserve in New York. They met in Tanzania, while working in refugee camps after the Rwandan genocide, and soon afterwards got married in Sri Lanka. My relatives live in all corners of the world and are all exceedingly different.
Being multiracial and having international roots, I was lucky to have the opportunity to grow up in different countries, and to have my feet planted in the roots of both my parents’ cultures. Going to international schools, then moving to the US were experiences that have made me aware of my identity, and has forced me to think about how others view me as a woman, Muslim, American, foreigner, or anything else.
By diverse background has been a source of constant learning and has shaped my mindset to be more accepting and globally minded. But being biracial and having international roots can often mean being invisible as well. My body is a battleground of two nations and cultures, constantly vying to be defining parts of my story. I am simultaneously my mother’s child and my father’s biological heir, and balancing the two can sometimes feel impossible.
...continue reading "Your Identity is What You Make It"
Even though I arrived in Australia over two months ago, I’m going to start this blog at the beginning of my adventures in Melbourne. As of right now, we have already finished nine (!!!) weeks of classes and are headed into mid-semester break.
So rewind to July 11, the first day I arrived… Two main things shocked me: the temperature/weather and the many different ethnicities and cultures in Melbourne. Obviously being in the Southern Hemisphere, Australia is experiencing winter during June, July and August. However, when I think of Australia, I usually picture warm beaches and sunshine. This, unfortunately, is not the case in the winter months (especially in Melbourne)! I did not pack a winter jacket or scarf and wound up freezing for a lot of the first month.
My body was definitely not used to the cold weather, coming from the hot summer in the States, and it took a couple weeks to adjust. While it’s not actually freezing weather here, the temperatures would dip below 40°F and the wind would blast in your face throughout July and early August. Melbourne also famously has all four seasons in one day, which meant I never knew what to wear in the morning. Some days it would be sunny and fairly warm in the morning, but it would transition to spitting rain and cold by 3 p.m.!
...continue reading "First Melbournian Impressions"
At first glance, Hong Kong is just like the online pictures - a metropolis built on mountains and islands; unique and majestic. Upon arrival, however, there are details available to you that an image cannot capture. Details may be small and easy to overlook, but they can reveal the real story of the environment, culture, and daily life of a place and its people. Allow my first blog post to share how I have come to know Hong Kong through its details.
...continue reading "It's All in the Details"
By Kellie Bancalari
"Muzungu!" The local Rwandan kids giggle as my friends and I walk passed and smile. Muzungu or white person in the local language is a common word I hear when walking the streets of Kigali.
It's been a full five weeks since I've touched down here in the capitol city of Rwanda and to be honest with you, I feel more like a local than a Muzungu by now.
Kigali is a city full of life. Motor bikes speed by in and out of traffic, kids play soccer on the street, friendly locals dance the nights away. Its so similar, yet so different to any city in the USA.
When I was a freshman in high school, I dreamed of the day I’d travel to Africa. It's funny how dreams have a way of becoming reality. Little did I know back then though, Rwanda is nothing like people think it is. Its not a jungle, with poverty enveloping every citizen, there are no vicious animals roaming the streets, and tribal clothing is definitely not the style.
Kigali, from what I’ve seen so far, is the cleanest city I’ve ever been to. Every citizen here is so proud of what they have built. The first thing they ask you when you meet them is “What do you think of our city?” They boast about their economic progress and how they are much more peaceful than surrounding nations. They truly have come so far from the 1994 Genocide.
...continue reading "Welcome to Rwanda, muzungu"
As-salamu alaykum (وَعَلَيْكُم السَّلَام, peace be upon you) from Morocco! Life is great. This blog has been a slow process, as my days have been full of cultural orientation, intensive classes, family time and exploring my new city with some bright people.
My name is Calla, although (everyone here pronounces it K-eye-lah). Macharfeen (nice to meet you!). I am a senior, studying International Affairs and Religion at The George Washington University in Washington, D.C. Hailing from a small farm town in Ohio, I often explain my major as the study of diplomacy, focusing on conflict resolution. In my field of study, it is very important to acquire experience abroad.
...continue reading "Yalla! ياللا"
London was not designed on a grid system. It was not even built as a city based on layers of concentric circles. Rather, it’s a hodgepodge of streets and squares and alleys that somehow makes up a city that 9 million people call home. This means that, if you’re walking, unless you have a good general idea of where you’re going, you will become lost. Larger, more prominent streets veer off into slim side streets, which then veer off into even slimmer side streets, which inexplicably lead to a small park, which contains a small cafe that might have WiFi. And by the time you reach that small cafe in that small park off that slimmest of side streets, you realize that you are way off from where you thought you were, and that you are both exploring and lost in a city that you are totally unfamiliar with but will be your home for three months.
Also, you have been here for a week and have yet to buy a UK SIM card. So, whenever you leave your flat, your phone turns into an iPod, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing because it gives you an excuse to not be on your phone. But it also wrestles the raft that is the “Maps” app from your arms, leaving you to rely on your own sense of direction, which is poor, and then—when that strategy inevitably fails—ask help from strangers, which is just the kind of social interaction that you have spent a good amount of your life avoiding.
Every day of my first week in London, I have become lost. And, every day, I’ve had to swallow the pill dry, and ask a stranger for directions. On Wednesday I ran around Bloomsbury frantically trying to find UCL’s main quad for my enrolment appointment. It took me half an hour to finally admit defeat and ask for directions from a police officer. By the time I found the quad, I was sweaty, late for my appointment, and annoyed by the fact that I had basically been told that I’d been in panicked search of a street I’d been walking directly parallel of for half an hour.
...continue reading "On relearning in the Boston of Europe"
Latina. That is the first word that comes to mind when I am asked about my identity. It is a powerful word that depicts the struggles my parents and I faced when coming to the land of the American dream. At the age of eight, I knew multiplication tables, I could read legends and dance to cumbia - all as a native Spanish speaker. As the years passed, I became aware that some of the things I valued the most as a little girl seemed to have been lost in translation.
As the oldest of three children, I did not have the option to put my education on pause after I graduated high school. Since I arrived to the states my main goal has always been to graduate from college. I owe that to my parents, who taught me that being bilingual is not only a matter of knowing two languages. They taught me that being bilingual was cooking pupusas for lunch and getting McDonalds for dinner. Bilingual in the sense that as a first generation student in the United States, I was able to hold my high school diploma from an American school system while that same day attend mass in Spanish to give thanks for my acceptance to college.
I am beyond proud of where I come from. When I was younger my accent could have been distinguished a mile away. Sometimes I still feel subconscious about it, but some people seemed not to notice it. Some act surprise when they hear that most of my childhood I spent in Central America. Others, after hearing my story congratulate me and tell me that because of my background I am fighting the odds of graduating college. To those I say, nothing is impossible. Gracias por leer mi historia.