Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Ecuador Calling! (The Beginning of a First-Generation Study Abroad Blog)

Guess what, guys?  I have a study abroad blog (like everyone and their sister).  My perspective is a bit different than the other blogs, though. Lots of people in my family have BEEN abroad, mostly for military service, but I'm the only one out of my extended family (think first cousins, parents, parents' siblings, grandparents, grandparents' siblings) to spend an extended period of time in another country for study.  My parents were both first-generation college students, and the majority of the rest of my family did not complete bachelors degrees.  What I'm doing is pretty radical to my family AND to me, and that perspective will flow through everything I think, see, and do while I'm there.  This is a first-generation study abroad blog.

Here, I'll cover- hidden costs (those aren't things they advertise, and if no one else near me knew, then I couldn't either), how to talk to your family about your trip, anxieties, barriers, all things social justice.  I'll also cover a whole bunch of completely run-of-the-mill things- once I figure out what those are.  I'm not saying that I face the hardest situation you could ever imagine in getting to and then navigating my adventures abroad.  I'm only saying that there are definite education/class/race barriers to opportunities such as this, and I want to expose and challenge them.  I want to use my perspective, an academic perspective, and the perspective of others to do this.  I am not saying that I am the authority on this subject- many people are in situations similar to mine, and I hope we can form a community in solidarity and have all sorts of discussions on international travel.  I want to do all of this while recognizing my privilege in the United States, as well as the privilege and positionality I hold abroad, especially on an international development program.  Privilege and social justice are not just buzzwords to me.  (Here is a little baby example- my white skin privilege is not erased by my Mexican heritage.  I hope to delve into these themes more as I get started, especially the idea of the colonizer and colonized- because Latin America.)

For those of you wondering at home, my program consists of two components- an eight-week classroom component in Quito and a seven-week internship component ideally in a rural setting.  When choosing the program, the second portion sealed the deal for me.  I wanted to be totally immersed in a new language and culture.  I'm not going abroad to party or to hang out with other United States college students.  I'm going there to work, and to learn, to improve my Spanish, to understand public health from a global perspective, and to be challenged beyond all reason.  I may as well go all the way.

You can join me on my journey, which started quite some time ago, when I made the decision to do this at all.  Therefore, though I fly off the 27th, this blog starts now.

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