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  • Writer's pictureAl G

Coming Home

Updated: Dec 26, 2022

tldr: the body is a vessel, internship update, celebration of life, finding a home in my culture

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!

 

Welcome back! Another sacred week in the books!!

Oh....what a blur these past two weeks (and honestly semester) have been! Where has time gone? As I count down the number of DAYS left here in Buenos Aires, I'm left to reflect upon how life-changing this experience has been. But-don't worry, that 15 minute long post is not here QUITE yet....haha. For this post, I will focus on the past 14 days and what has been going on in my life recently! For this week's blog theme I want to focus specifically on the theme of

*:・゚✧ HOME ✧ ・゚:*

What does the word "home" mean for you? When I think of home, the term is extremely elusive. It doesn't reside in one place. In fact, when I think of "home," the definition I have cultivated for myself has evolved so much over the past years and even within this semester that for me.... home is a place where I feel safe to express my authentic self. It doesn't have to be a certain physical location. In fact, more often than not, it is tied to the emotional space that people in your life create for you, rather than a certain destination or place. Furthermore, home is also a space where you can create for yourself - a liminal space that exists where you can drop into your fullest being. Activities that could cultivate the feeling of "home" for you could be dancing, listening to music, curating art, or exercising! Home comes in so many different forms and is individual, unique, and special for each individual person. Today, I'm going to dive into what home really looks like for me.

***

These past two weeks have honestly been a whirlwind as I have been bopping around to event to event, trying to fit everything in before I leave, while also *trying* to give myself grace and take a breather (although for those of you who know me, this is definitely a W.I.P.!) Some highlights of the various events I went to these past fourteen days include:

  • Día Nacional de lxs Afro-Argentinxs y la Cultura Afro | National Day of Afro-Argentinians y Afro-Culture.

I had the privilege to be able to see the unveiling of the statue of María Remedios de la Valle. On November 8th, the Afro-Argentinian community honors her memory. Valle served as an integral part of the community. She was an activist and was known as the "Madre de la Patria" who fought against Spanish forces during the war of independence (photo 1)

  • Marcha de Orgullo | Pride March / Weekend

I also had the wonderful opportunity to attend the Pride March two weekend's ago! There were amazing floats with music drawing from all different backgrounds. I had so much fun spending time with my friends; although, we almost got stuck in a mob crowd and two of my friends got their phones stolen, so I made a swift exit after that happened...and instead decided to take myself out to dinner! (photo 2)

  • Day Trip to Tigre (45 minutes away by train!)

Last Friday, I decided to take a mental health day and take myself on a day-trip to the river! I took a boat tour that showed us 6 different rivers and then went out to this super cute vegetarian lunch spot tucked away in a little neighborhood off the river. Tigre is extremely touristy, even on a Friday, but walking through the neighborhoods and enjoying the absolutely gorgeous weather was so much fun! This trip served as much needed alone time and a way for me to partially escape the craziness of the city! (photo 3-6)

  • Wakanda Forever

After I came back from Tigre, I hung out with my lovely friend Paola (who is actually originally from Charlotte, North Carolina!) and we went to the movies together! We decided to watch Wakanda Forever (in 3D!) and it was so much fun. In fact, I think it was one of the best movies I've seen....ever. The movie was extremely touching and even made me tear up in some parts. I would definitely recommend if you have not watched it to go NOW (and then text me and let me know allllll of your thoughts!) (photo 7 - glasses upon glasses haha)

  • Parks

These past two weeks I have been exploring more parks! I finally went to the Japanese Botanical Garden with my wonderful friend Gabi (the girl from Davidson on my program!). I also was able to go to Parque las Heras with my friend Shreya (who actually is here on another SIT program for 1 month - she is part of a 3 country program focused on Public Health which just happens to pick Buenos Aires, what a coincidence!). There is something about public parks that I just love in ALL cities. People draw from so many different backgrounds and walks of life but the park all brings us together in some way, whether that be to do calisthenics in the park, walk your dog, or play a game of chess! It's such a community that I love to observe while basking in the sun and lying in the grass! It was so great to finally catch up with Shreya and find a home with her. Shreya and I have known each other since literally DAY 1 of Davidson, as we were in the same orientation group and immediately clicked at the start of orientation. Although we don't see each other a lot at Davidson, it was such a cherished time to finally catch up with her 1:1, spend some time in the public park, and also people-watch! We reflected upon how we have changed thus far over abroad and how much we appreciate our Davidson community as well. As I said before, I feel so lucky for my Davidson community who has visited me in Buenos Aires (Luis, Kaia, Shreya, Gabi). I wouldn't be able to function in Buenos Aires quite frankly without their constant support and love. (photo 8)

  • Museums

Finally, in these past two weeks I was able to go to 3 different museums: MALBA - Museum of Latin American Art Buenos Aires, Museum of Modern Art, and Museum of Bellas Artes. I love exploring different museums and interpreting all of the different pieces. At MALBA, I was able to visit the very special and famous Frida Kahlo Exhibit. Throughout all of the museums, I noticed a theme that circled around the impermanence of the body. Maybe, I noticed this specific thread because this thought has been on my mind; regardless, I want to address this topic in my blog. It's actually something that my friends and I have talked about a lot on the program....as humans, we have such a fleeting physical presence on this world. Our body carries us through. It serves as the vessel that we are able to carry through life. However, part of me definitely does believe that it just doesn't end right there with our physical death of our body. In fact, I believe our spirit lives way beyond the physical presence of our literal body. That being said, it makes me want to show up for my body even more now-in-days. I thank my body for giving me this vessel to pass through this world, for it to allow me to do all of these amazing things such as run, lift weights, walk, dance, and move freely. I feel like often times we lose sight of how important it is to take care of our body in this now moment so we can keep living life to the fullest extent. Moreover, how important it is to thank our bodies for being able to show up for us in this incredible way, for them to cure us, heal us of our physical wounds. We have so much to be grateful for!

Through these past two weeks, I have been so thankful for my body for giving me the ability to live these incredible experiences as I have been using live music and dancing as my medicine, as my recent home that I have cultivated for myself. I have gone to tango shows and multiple jazz nights as well as the club and through it all I have been dancing my heart out at every single event!! Club culture is definitely scary at times, at least for me in the United States. Dark enclosed spaces filled with strangers or just unfamiliar faces has most definitely served as a trigger point for me in this past year as I have begun to overcome trauma. However, I have begun to slowly but surely reclaim these spaces in Buenos Aires, Argentina! With a close group of sisters who I can trust with my entire heart and an energetic spirit and the right club, I've been able to have so much fun at the clubs I've gone to in Buenos Aires! It's been such a breath of fresh air for my spirit to be able to run free without the pressure of having to partake in the intense drinking culture that people my age usually partake in! I have also made an active decision to go to yoga every week at my local gym, as well as go to tai-chi and chigong classes (part of traditional Chinese medicine healing practices). Finally, I had the opportunity to go to Ecstatic Dance. For those of you who follow along with my YouTube channel, I went to ecstatic dance on my birthday in San Francisco this summer and had the best time of my life. Ecstatic Dance is founded on premises of just dancing to the beat of your own soul, which is exactly up my alley since I am not trained professionally. Dancing is such a spiritual process where you can really get vulnerable!! When I found out there was an ecstatic dance in Buenos Aires (it's world-wide, just search for one in your area here), I immediately signed up! I danced for 2 hours and was riding the biggest high for hours after, simply thrilled to have that opportunity to express myself and release past karmic ties through dance! After I finished throwing myself into the movement and dance of life for over two hours, my body was exhausted, but I remembered to thank it for showing up and giving me the ability to even attend this wonderful dance class!

Boliche (party!) in Buenos Aires!

And now, for the final part of the "short" blog haha. An internship update!!

✧ ・゚:*

For those of you who have been following along with the blog, I am interning at the Asociación Cultural Chino-Argentino (Cultural Chinese-Argentinian Association) for four weeks. I can't believe I'm finishing up my last week with the association this coming week. Again, where has time gone?!?! As I began my internship over two weeks ago, I knew that I was going to face all kind of emotions: sadness, happiness, home, rejection, anger, safety. Honestly, I have felt all of those listed above....in a big way. Completing this internship has been mentally draining in way I couldn't have imagined, but also one of the most rewarding experiences I have had here in Buenos Aires. At the start of my internship, I was put on data-base entry. For the first week for 6 hours a day, I worked by myself and entered data into a data-base system. It was definitely not ideal and not the experience I thought I would be having, as my focus was originally going to be on the lived experiences of Chinese-Argentinians. Once the first few days past and I was put on the same type of data-base entry again and again, I decided to take action and advocate for myself within the work-space. I asked to partake in various classes that the association offered, including a traditional Chinese medicine course, chigong, tai-chi, and a weekly Chinese class (level 1). Throughout the end of the first week and into the second week I had the opportunity to attend various classes and dedicate more of my internship towards learning about the cultural classes that ACCA held rather than entering data into a system.

However, mid-way through the second week, I realized it was more than just the data entry that I was upset about. Feeling lost and confused, I came to understand what I really was missing from the internship was a lack of support. I didn't really feel welcomed into the organization at first and felt extremely isolated, especially since I was not seeing my beloved friends who cultivated a safe community for me every day (I couldn't tell if this was a culture shock or personality difference?). After all, that's what I was originally seeking from the very start....a community to call home. I thought that for ONCE in my time in Buenos Aires, I would be able to find a space where it was not predominately white and I could see people who looked like me and feel immediately at home. This was not the case. Much more than half of the administration (my co-workers) are white and even then, I didn't really find "home" with my supervisor. The initial week and half was extremely challenging for me as I navigated a space where I had so desperately wanted to find home, but didn't even know what "home" looked like....

Fortunately, the energies started to change throughout the end of the second week, as I continued to advocate for myself and maintain open communication with my supervisor. I asked to start the interview and research period of my internship and throughout the end of the second week and third week, I have been conducting interviews with various members of the Chinese/Taiwanese Argentinian community (thanks to the President of ACCA for connecting me with these wonderful people!). Through these experiences of having several conversations with people from varying background has altered my perspective greatly on Argentina and my own identity as a Chinese-American and more-over, has made me cultivate more appreciation for my internship experience and the opportunities it has allowed me to have thus far!


HOME FOR ME through my INTERNSHIP & beyond.... looks like:

  • Attending "Nivel Básico" / Level 1 Chinese Class every Thursday. It feels like I'm returning home. I don't even know / can't even really explain the feeling, but I'm so. grateful for the community within the class that is filled with curious learners and empathetic souls.

  • Getting to know various Professors and members within the Chinese-Argentinian community. Although as stated before, I haven't found intense community within my internship internal space, it's opened up a web of connections for me to meet the wonderful people who are part of ACCA, including various people I have met through my Chinese class and hot pot (shout out Cece if you are reading this <3 )

  • Going to get Chinese food every week? For the past two weeks, I've had two meals at Chinese restaurants in Barrio Chino (Chinatown here in BA). It's been so wonderful to connect with the spirits, my ancestors, and thank them for this space they are holding for me to go back to my roots and connect with them through food!

  • Committing to taking Chinese when I arrive at Davidson! I am tentatively planning on taking a basic Chinese class when I return back to the states! This decision has made me so happy and incredibly proud of myself. From someone who has developed such internalized racism due to the environments I grew up in, I'm so so proud of myself for taking that step to unravel, un-do, and unlearn that internalized hate that I had so deeply ingrained in my brain since I was so young!

  • Connecting with my ancestors....I don't even know if I'm religious, and if I am....which religion I am. However, I do know that the path that I am currently on feels like such a return to my home roots, a place where I have never had the opportunity to truly explore on my own as a young adult navigating their identity!!! I have felt so connected with them and have felt so grateful for them for guiding me and protecting me.

Chinese Lecture Notes!

In this season that I am in now, I have such a deep curiosity to explore more about my culture, my heritage my roots. I have such a passion to surround myself with people who look like me, who can share with me parts of their culture and language, and who can support me on my own journey of going home. Going home to my roots and discovering my complex identity as a trans-national identity a little further!


So thank you so much!! For everyone in my life. For showing up for me and allowing myself to express myself here and in person. I am eternally grateful for you all. I just recently celebrated my lovely friend Amelia's birthday. Being able to have the privilege to be there for such a vibrant celebration of life reminds me of how much I need to take advantage of every moment--not just here in Argentina with such few days remaining but also just in life in general!


I remind myself that these difficult moments of rejection and sadness I felt these weeks are all part of the process. They MATTER, just as much as those moments of pure bliss and joy. All of these moments teach you something deeper about yourself and make you appreciate yourself for showing up and meeting every growing edge with more grace and love for yourself.

I'll sign off now before I ramble for even LONGER. I look forward to seeing you all in the next blog. For now, if you haven't checked out my recent YouTube video, if you have time, please do....it would mean the world!

- adiós! besos, xoxo



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cjfenton1
Nov 20, 2022
谢谢你,Alice! Question from a former teacher (and aging hippie) who, honestly, yes honestly, only ever saw you as a bright-eyed, conscientious, virtuous young student with unlimited potential: Why would you likely (mis)label me based on my perceived skin reflectance, yet self-identify by referring to ethnicity and nationality? I don’t, and never have, felt comfortable with labels that way too often, imho, serve only to sever our common humanity. — Fenton 老师
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