Upon my return…

Returning home to Michigan after spending my first time abroad in a place like Argentina was definitely bittersweet.  Argentina has taught me so much about myself, education, and life itself.  It is hard to explain what specifically changes you when you travel and it can be hard to pinpoint that moment as well.  Studying abroad and learning a language and culture by being immersed is the best way to fully understand everything you attempt to understand in a classroom setting.

I was lucky enough to work on my minor in Spanish as well as complete my study abroad as a part of GLI.  Argentina has not only given my insight on Latin American culture, but it has also shown me the significance of where I’m from and what it truly means to be American.  I’m forever more appreciative of the opportunity that America gives students my age and how our freedom is truly a gift.

Even though I was in Argentina, I spent some time in Uruguay and did some traveling as well.  I made a friend from Scotland, Holland, France, and made some friends in Uruguay as well.  As never having traveled to Europe either, learning about other countries thousands of miles away by meeting up with new friends across the world was a whole other experience.  We were able to talk about politics, education, laws, rights, and of course, what we all consider the basic normalities between countries.  It was amazing to me to feel as though I know so much about this large world of ours by meeting a few people in just a miniscule part of it.

As my global theme and topic is discrimination of indigenous cultures, it was also a topic I had brought up within the meetings of new friends.  We would have dinner conversations or rooftop discussions about differences within culture of their countries in comparison with the United States or Argentina.  They all helped me really put into perspective how native people, no matter the country, influence the culture and lifestyle of that country.  I’m grateful for the opportunity Argentina has given me and I’m beyond blessed to have made friends all over the world.

Being back in the United States, I’ve had plenty of time to think about the next steps in my theme as part of the GLI Program.  My topic has led me to many different areas of thinking and processing the questions of social inequality and the issue of discrimination of indigenous cultures.  I have raised some questions for myself of where to take me next steps and in what direction:

  • Is the discrimination of other countries influence in a culture considered indigenous if the inhabitants have moved by immigration?
  • What defines an indigenous group?
  • Does gender have an influence in this issue? (If so, how large of an influence?)
  • What conclusions have I made on the issue based on my time spent in Argentina? Is there a resolution I propose that could help dissolve the idea of discrimination within Argentine or within the United States?

“The Argentinian Melting Pot”

While abroad, our group is taking two classes at the University of Belgrano with two professors there.  One of our classes is related to culture of Latin America and within Argentina specifically.  Another aspect of discrimination she had discussed with us was the way that Argentinians behave around all the foreigners that live around them in the city.  There is a large population of Chinese who own many of the supermarkets, a lot of Italian influence, and also a neighborhood named after the amount of Jewish people that have immigrated to the area.  She spent a class discussing how these different cultures are referred to by many as slang terms like Chinos or Jews.

As we’ve spent much time in all different parts of the city, these areas of certainly distinct and carry their own value within the culture of Buenos Aires and even Argentina.  These areas are unique to the city with the kinds of foods that are sold, the people that live there, the way the neighborhood is designed, and sometimes even the language spoken within the corners of the streets.  These districts have their own identity and after hearing about these areas from locals like our host families, discrimination can and is present among fellow Argentinians with different original backgrounds.

I think because of what I have learned from my host family and around the city, I am becoming more interested in the idea of discrimination between groups that may not necessarily be “indigenous,” but rather groups that are considered “minorities” within such a large city.  This other aspect of discrimination is something I never thought about before arriving abroad, but I think it is another important part of racism and discrimination within places that contain more than one different culture.  We like to the think of the United States as “The Melting Pot,” but while abroad, my eyes were definitely opened to how much influence all countries have on one another and the kind of changes they create.

When thinking about my final project, I am wondering if there is a way I am able to combine some of my ideas with what I have experienced.  With three weeks left in the semester and in Argentina, I’m hoping to visit more distinct neighborhoods to learn more about the diversity of Buenos Aires and all that it has to offer.



Patagonia and the Role of Women

I have spent this entire spring semester in the beautiful country of Argentina.  On this faculty led study abroad program, we have spent time in Bariloche, Patagonia and Buenos Aires.  The things I have learned being abroad is extremely life-changing and totally gives you a new view on life as a whole.  One thing that really interests me in this country is the different cultures and social aspects of being a member of a Latin American society.  I am focusing my global theme on the idea of social inequality with a focus on discrimination of indigenous groups.  This aspect of my studies has been mainly relevant among Argentinians in Patagonia.

One of the really interesting ideas that I have been really thinking about lately is the role that women play within these groups.  In the indigenous cultures of Patagonia, the Mapuches and the Tehuelches, the role of women was very clear: take care of the family and home.  However, women were also responsible for making goods of materials that were hunted by the men.  We had the opportunity of visiting a store in Patagonia called El Mercado de la Estapa.  This was a store of hand-crafted goods made by women who are ancestors of these indigenous tribes.  They make products including gloves, ponchos, hats, sweaters, socks, and more with wool from the sheep.  They also have pelts from rabbits and other animals.  These women continue to live in their native land and obey their responsibilities held by their ancestors who were in their same positions.

Seeing this kind of place really put my topic into play and how the social aspects of certain members of indigenous cultures are all important for different reasons.  I think it is important to include all roles present in native groups because they all play a part in the kind of community the natives have.  I think the specific role of women within these groups could be something I can focus on within my final project because I think their role is just as important as any others.