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  • Writer's pictureAl G

Bon Voyage!

Updated: Nov 20, 2022

tldr: introductory welcome post, FAQ, welcome to my blog (hopes/fears/intentions)

TLDR: too long didn't read. I will include this at the top of my blog entry every week! I understand. We are all busy. I appreciate you all taking the time to even read just a couple entries of my blog! Scroll down for the quick links mentioned in my blog.

 

As I sit here in Baker Library in the small town of Hanover, New Hampshire, I can not believe I will be on the way to Buenos Aires, Argentina in 36 hours. I'm still in shock with how fast time flies. It felt like just yesterday that I was just on the plane to San Francisco from Boston at the end of May to start my internship. And now, in 36 hours, I will be on the way to South America. To a whole new destination. To a whole new community. To a whole new chapter of my life......


I'm super excited to keep this blog up through my website and travel Instagram (see here!). My Instagram will be primarily for sharing photos and short memos in my life during my time abroad in Argentina. My blog will be meant for longer reflections that I will do weekly (hopefully post by Sunday or Monday)!


Now, for those of you who are new to this chapter of my life or don't know me at all (very unlikely but hello if you're new here!), let me go through some of the basics / frequently asked questions.


Who are you? Why are you keeping a blog?

Hello! My name is Alice Garner. I use she/her pronouns and I'm a rising third-year at Davidson College in Davidson, North Carolina. I study at a liberal arts college, but my major is Africana Studies and my minor is Hispanics Studies. I will be studying abroad in Buenos Aires for 4 months with a non-Davidson program. With this blog, I hope to keep people updated in my life that I care about as well as have this serve as a way to look back fondly at my time abroad in South America when I was 20 years old!


How long will you be in Argentina for?

I will be in Argentina from the end of August to the beginning of December. Officially, the program is around 14 weeks long. We have 10 weeks of intensive classes (all in Spanish!) grounded in experiential learning and then a 4 week internship/independent study period where we will be allowed to explore our own academic interests through a work study or an independent project. I have chosen to do an internship with an NGO. I'm not sure yet which organization yet, but SIT will help me find the internship that matches my academic interests!


What program are you going on to study abroad?

I am not going on a Davidson program. Instead, I chose to enroll in a Davidson partner program. This study abroad program is with the School for International Training (I will refer to the school as SIT from now on). The program is called "Social Movements and Human Rights." To learn more about SIT and my program, you can click here. There are about 15 other girls going on the trip to Argentina; they are from all over the country and all rising third or fourth-years!


Why Argentina? Why South America and not somewhere like Spain?

When I was deciding on which programs to apply to for my study abroad experience, I knew that I wanted to go on a Spanish immersion program (since I'm minoring in Hispanic Studies) and I knew I wanted to go to South America. Although it would have been fun to have the classic European study abroad experience in Spain where you could hop around, country to country, I knew that studying abroad in Latin America would more closely align with my academic interests (and especially touch upon the intersection between Africana Studies and Hispanic Studies). I'm specifically interested in exploring the underrepresented, BiPOC experience in Argentina. Furthermore, going on a quick trip to South America is a bit less accessible than booking flight to Madrid. I wanted to fully take advantage of this study abroad experience as much as possible and believed that South America was the right choice for me! Initially, I was in between three SIT programs, one in Santiago, Chile, one in Oaxaca, Mexico, and then this one. I'm excited for this chapter of my life and really blessed that everything worked out for me to be able to go!


What classes will you be taking in Argentina?

As mentioned before, all of my classes will be 100% in Spanish! SIT automatically enrolls you in the 4 classes that everyone in the program takes: - History of Argentina

- Social Movements and Human Rights Seminar

- Research Methods (to prepare for my internship)

These 3 classes above will be at the SIT Office in Buenos Aires.

- Spanish Intensive Class at the Universidad de San Martin.


Where / who will you be staying with in Argentina?

I will be staying with a host family in downtown Buenos Aires. I don't know my host family assignment yet, but I'm excited to meet them!


Will you be traveling anywhere besides Buenos Aires, Argentina?

Yes! I will be doing a day trip to Uruguay sometime in mid-October. In addition, we will be traveling to Patagonia in September and then Salta/Jujuy (North-Western Argentina) in October as well! I'm very excited to go on all of the trips, but especially to North Western Argentina, because for my final project for one of my classes at Davidson (Colonialism and Digital Media), I made a YouTube video about one of the Indigenous populations in North Western Argentina. In this video, I explore themes of identity, specifically regarding indigenous identity construction against the national narrative (focusing on the whitening or 'blanqueamiento' movement). To see this video, you can click here.


What are you most excited / nervous for while studying abroad?

Through an academic lens, I am most excited about exploring the intersection of Africana and Hispanics studies while abroad. While in Dr. Luis's class, History of Enslaved Latin America, in my Fall of Sophomore Year, I was able to explore this intersectionality by doing my final project on the enslaved Chinese in Latin America. I'm excited to further this academic research through my internship and general travel to Argentina. As an adoptee, I've always been very curious to delve deeper into my family history in China. Learning about the trans-pacific slave trade in the 16th century and knowing that the province where I was adopted from (Guangdong) was one of the main locations where enslaved Chinese were shipped to Latin America, has now sparked this deep fascination of the Asian (and specifically Chinese) diaspora in Latin America!


This leads me right into some of the aspects that I am nervous about while studying abroad in Argentina. As an Asian woman living in Vermont and then attending school at a predominately white institution, I always felt hesitant about speaking Spanish. I always was worried about being doubted for my abilities since I am Asian and not Latinx. During my time in San Francisco this summer, I worked for the City of South San Francisco. On a team called "Los Promotores," I was on a bilingual team helping the low-income underrepresented populations in South San Francisco. I used my Spanish every day to engage with clients in-person and over the phone, helping them get food, medical insurance, immigration services, ESL classes and more. I used my Spanish to form bonds of trust with the local population in South San Francisco. Over 80% of our clients were undocumented and 90% of them were monolingual in Spanish. Although this experience allowed me to practice my Spanish every day and form bonds of trust with my clients, I did feel quite hesitant at first to speak Spanish with them. Sometimes when talking to the clients initially in Spanish, they would talk to me in English right away or be very confused as to why I was speaking Spanish to them. I learned to not take this too personally, although it did affect my self-esteem when it came to talking Spanish aloud. Connecting this summer experience to my upcoming chapter in Argentina, I am definitely wary of the micro-aggressions that will come with being an Asian woman in Buenos Aires. Will my Spanish abilities be doubted because of my own background identity? I'm not sure, but I will definitely update you all on my experiences as I continue to navigate new locations and grapple with my identity as a trans-national adoptee.


What are your goals and intentions for your time abroad? What do you hope to gain from this experience?

Since applying to college....over two years ago..... I have always dreamt of going to abroad. Although my path at Davidson has taken a very different turn than I had originally imagined (originally intended psychology major), I am so grateful for my support system and community I've cultivated at Davidson and beyond! I am excited to take on this new chapter of my life, but I know that as with every new chapter of my life, it's extremely important to set intentions to ground myself! With that being said, here is a bulleted list of my goals and intentions while abroad!

Intentions
  • Stay grounded! Traveling around and uprooting yourself is hard. I want to be intentional with whom I surround myself with and be aware of how my mind-body is adjusting to this new location. Although routine is hard to create when you know you're going to leave so soon, if you know me at all, I love my routines. I will find parks to go to and journal, a gym to workout at, free yoga classes in the city, and I will make sure that my Outlook calendar is booked to the max....

  • But with that being said, I also want to make sure I give myself grace! This is such an important motto I have been *trying* to live by (I haven't always followed through 100% but I'm trying my best!!) I want to make sure I tune into my inner self and make sure that I'm getting enough rest, taking the right steps for my mental health, and continuing to maintain a healthy balanced lifestyle that allows me to thrive as my authentic self! It's okay if I take the day off or don't go to every event! It's okay if I don't roll out a blog post weekly. Self-care comes first!

Goals
  • I want to continue to push myself to discover my identity as an Asian American, trans-national adoptee. Although it might be emotionally exhausting, I want to visit the barrio china (Chinatown of BA - Buenos Aires) and learn more about the lived experiences of the Chinese people in Buenos Aires.

  • I want to explore more of my Buddhist identity. How does Buddhism and religion as a whole fit into my life? How do Buddhist values shape the way I perceive the world? I would ideally like to explore various Buddhist temples and go to at least 3 services throughout my time in Argentina! (in San Francisco I got very involved with the Buddhist Churches of America and that was a community I was ever-so grateful I tapped into!)

  • I want to travel around Buenos Aires and really get to know the city more. I want to become a local by talking to the locals! This might sound cheesy, but I want to really utilize my free time to fully immerse myself in the culture. I want to go tango dancing, to rooftops to see stunning views of the city, and try all of the delicious food (yes, I am aware that I am flexivegan going to the meat capital of the world....)

  • In addition, I want to be speaking Spanish 100% of the time. I know it is a hard goal, but I did commit myself to an immersion program and I want to make sure I utilize this experience and really throw myself out into the deep end!

 

Well, if you have made it *THIS* far, THANK YOU! Thank you for showing up and taking the time to support me on this journey! I'm excited for you to embark on this journey with me (vicariously!) I can't wait for you all to be along side with me, as my people...meaning the community I've cultivated thus far in the Upper Valley, at Davidson, in San Francisco....means SO MUCH TO ME! So thank you! Until next time....

 

Quick links (mentioned in the blog)

- Follow my travel Instagram for more immediate updates: here

- For more information about my study abroad program: here

- My final project on the enslaved Chinese in Latin America: here

- My final project on the Kolla people (an Indigenous population in Argentina): here

- For my YouTube channel (covering my time at Davidson & San Francisco & Vermont): here

- For my podcast elevating marginalized voices: here

 

N.B. This blog is not for an academic project associated with Davidson, it was purely created so I could look back at my memories and update people I love!


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cjfenton1
Aug 23, 2022

Thanks so much for inviting me along, Alice! J. Fenton

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