This year I decided to study abroad in Buenos Aires, Argentina to reconnect with my Argentine heritage and culture. As a first generation American, I never exactly knew where my family came from or why my parents decided to leave Argentina and I took it upon myself to learn about this unknown history.
Studying abroad gave me the opportunity to develop direct relationships with my distant family and other people in Argentina. With my family, I was able to trace back my roots through stories of immigration stemming from Italy, Colombia, Spain, and even native ancestry. These newly found discoveries in my family tree caused me to deeply appreciate the multiculturalism that exists within our world.
In addition, I saw this study abroad opportunity as way to improve my media skills. As an aspiring filmmaker, I volunteered and collaborated with talented individuals in Buenos Aires who represent Argentine culture and I created for them more media presence. Most of them were musicians, but others were actresses and restaurant owners. Without initially knowing it, I realized this was a powerful method to completely immerse myself in Argentine culture and disseminate it through social media outlets. With such newly found relationships, I was not only able to strengthen my language skills as I did in Spanish class, but I also deepened my Latin American identity and sensibilities both culturally and sociologically. Pretty soon I was being invited to what felt like every musical or theatrical event in Buenos Aires and that powerfully enriched my study abroad experience.
I continued to expand on this search for cultural identity and fluidity while traveling through other regions in Argentina. In the north I encountered people of pure altruism and generosity. For example, I remember the day I met Ricardo, a man who was on his way to donate big packets of flour to local schools in Salta, Argentina. Here I took this unexpected opportunity to witness and register this altruistic act while meeting and conversing with children from towns that are completely off the grid.
The various things I experienced through study abroad presented themselves in forms that were constantly mixing in a whirlwind of the familiar and the foreign. I converge with my experiences when I follow a direct path; but almost like a magnet, I am diverging from that path, thrown off course by other experiences happening around me so that when I return to my designated path I am no longer the same person.
Through study abroad, we become people who have a deeper understanding of the world that surrounds us and the people who make up not one but a myriad of world cultures.