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  • Writer's pictureAl G

Fostering a Community

Updated: Nov 19, 2022

tldr: exams, trying to find home, starting my internship

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 to my blog!!!!!!!

I am so excited to catch you all up with my life. I am very sorry I did not get a post up on Sunday, but hey, c'est la vie...wait that's French hahaha. Anyways...these past two weeks have been filled with ups and downs. To start off, I had exams last week for all of my classes (my SIT Social Movements and Human Rights Seminar as well as my Intensive Spanish Class at the University of San Martin). I felt very confident in my performance for both, which I was extremely happy about. It was a bit bitter-sweet to say goodbye to my lovely professor Mercedes, who was my Spanish teacher. Although I have not talked about her on the blog, Mercedes was my Spanish Profe for 2 months. Her smile, positive energy, and optimistic attitude made every day so much brighter! Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday while we were in Buenos Aires, we always had 2.5 hours of intensive Spanish class! We focused on grammar, reading comprehension, and writing argumentative texts! Even though I do believe an integral part of the learning process happens outside of the classroom, I was extremely grateful for our Spanish class to re-establish a more formal practice including complex grammar and vocabulary! Featured below is a video of me dancing in class! For one of our comprehension exercises, we had to listen to a song and of course I decided to dance! (with permission of Mercedes of course!) For those of you who don't know me.....I LOVE TO DANCE! I've always loved to dance since I could walk practically. Dancing is such a grounding practice for me. Truly allowing yourself to feel your body and drop into an intimate space with yourself and yourself only is such a powerful and liberating feeling.

After my Spanish exams were over (phew!), my SIT class had our final excursion to cap off the semester. We visited CTEP Argentina (Confederación de Trabajadores de La Economía Popular) in a "barrio popular." This barrio (neighborhood in Spanish) was unlike many of the other barrios that I've been to in Buenos Aires. Our program intentionally places us in host families that live in the more affluent neighborhoods; therefore, mostly while I have been in the city, I have only explored those respective neighborhoods.

During our excursion, we visited a bachillerato and talked with members of CTEP. Bachilleratos provide a more accessible, equitable, and inclusive education for members in the community, especially those living in this neighborhood that are at a lower socio-economic status. CTEP focuses on regaining and recuperating fair worker's rights for those in the barrios populares (especially for those who are excluded from more formal jobs and companies). CTEP grounds its mission in the unity of the working-class members who are fighting for labor rights. Furthermore, they work with UTT! (an organization I talked about in last week's blog....remember the farm I visited that focuses on sustainable practices and food sovereignty?) I felt extremely grateful to have been able to enter this space and as I reflect upon my semester of classes (or half of a semester really considering I finished in October!), I am so thankful for SIT for providing such intentional excursions within the program. Not many programs provide such detailed and well-planned out excursions to human rights and social movement organizations and Indigenous communities.

 

While I was finishing up classes, one of my closest friends from Davidson came to visit me! Kaia is such a kindred spirit and I am so lucky to have her as a friend! She is currently studying abroad in Santiago, Chile and came with a group of her friends to visit the city for a couple of days! Although her time in the city passed extremely quickly, I was so glad that I was able to see her for a couple of days. I showed her my favorite parks, vegetarian cafes/restaurants, and we went to see jazz as well! At the end of her stay before she left for her next adventure, Kaia was able to meet all of my friends from my program! It was such a crazy experience seeing so many worlds collide at once, but it made my heart swell knowing that so many people I love dearly were able to come together and celebrate life!

Here is a photo of us at a boliche (party/discoteca) before Kaia left!

After being away from college for almost 7 months now (crazy!), I have come to the conclusion that Davidson is definitely an EXTREMELY difficult place to exist in. Although I already knew this, being away from the physical space that has caused a lot of trauma for me, just further reinforced that what I miss most about college is the community--not the actual location of Davidson. Seeing Kaia this past weekend, being able to spend time with Luis for a little over a month (the Watson scholar '22 grad who have I mentioned multiple times in my blog), and having Gabi (a girl in my grade!) in my program has been the medicine I desperately need while studying abroad at Davidson. Despite my fraught past with the school, the people who I am closest to, those who I have been keeping in contact with throughout these past 8 months and making time to see, remind me why I love Davidson. My Davidson friends are so full of kindness and love and I know they will do absolutely anything for me. I am quite nervous to go back to the physical location of Davidson, but I know that this community I have cultivated over the past two years at Davidson, will help hold me afloat for the next 3 semesters....or will it be two??!?

Jazz with Kaia. The perfect Friday night in my opinion!

Over the past couple of days, I have been thinking more seriously about the possibility of graduating early! Although plans are not set in stone and there are still many logistical questions I have to sort out, I am entertaining the possibility of graduating one semester early! I will keep you all updated as I embark upon this exciting chapter of my life!!


****

This past week, I also celebrated my wonderful friend Maddie's 22nd birthday! It's crazy how I grew up singing the song "22" by Taylor Swift, dreaming about the moment when I would actually be celebrating this birthday! I am not that close to celebrating my 22nd birthday, but it's wild that one of my friends is!!! We went to a gorgeous park and surprised her with a cake. It was such a tender moment filled with such vivacity for life! I know that I sound like a broken record at this point, but I really felt my cheeks start to hurt as I held a beaming smile the entire time! I am not big fan of spending time in groups, because I want to make sure every person in the group feels comfortable, safe, seen, heard, and celebrated! Usually in big groups, people don't have the chance to form intimate relationships with one another to truly feel comfortable in their authentic selves. In my high school and at college, I have yet to discover a group of individuals whom I can call my "friend group." I am perfectly content though with forging individual relationships with people. However, something while abroad has changed me!! Existing in such sacred sisterhood has been extremely healing for me. I can confidently tell you that I feel so close with every single one of the girls that I have chosen to surround myself with. When we are all together, I can be myself and feel that we are all celebrating one another's existence to the fullest extent!

Happy Birthday Maddie!

Probably the craziest part of celebrating Maddie's birthday was the fact that it felt like a full circle moment. Let me explain. When I was in San Francisco this summer, I went to a club on my birthday weekend....however, little did I know, Maddie was at that same club at the exact same time! (Maddie was in SF this summer and she goes to University of SF) The next day, I went to the Pride Celebration and...little did I know....Maddie went to the same exact show that I did! Basically, I'd like to think that Maddie and I celebrated my birthday asynchronously without either one of us knowing. So.... it felt like an EXTRA special moment this weekend when we were able to finally come together and rejoice together for her birthday weekend (which is coincidentally the same weekend as Pride as well.....what synchronicity! It was meant to be!)

 

My last update for this blog post....is that I started my INTERNSHIP! As I mentioned in my last post, I am doing my internship with the Asociación Cultural Chino-Argentino (Cultural Association for Chinese-Argentinians). I chose this organization as I am extremely fascinated with the lived experiences of Chinese-Argentinians. Furthermore, I am very invested in learning more about my heritage and my cultural roots (more on this on another blog post....I could write 10 more pages about this topic haha but I will save this for a later one). This organization focuses on the dissemination of Chinese culture within the Argentinian community through offering Chinese Mandarin language courses as well as various cultural courses such as Tai Chi, ChiKong and TCM (traditional Chinese Medicinal Courses). I was so excited to start my internship this week; however, I felt very disappointed when I was put on data-entry as my first task to complete. Although, I want to help the organization in every way I can, I was a bit frustrated when I learned I was not going to be helping out with the more cultural side (for example, helping plan events or attending classes). However, I did not want this initial day spoil my impression of the organization or moreover, goals for my experience with this organization!! I communicated with my supervisor that I was extremely interested in attending the basic Chinese Mandarin courses, as well as sitting in and observing other cultural classes! To my relief, my supervisor agreed to let me enroll in those classes! Even though the first days were a bit rough, I am very excited to take Chinese-Mandarin classes and do tai-chi in these upcoming weeks!

***

Before my internship, I tried to prepare myself for all types of feeling I could experience throughout my internship period. One of these feelings was definitely: rejection. Existing in Buenos Aires, in the communities where our program places us, has been extremely difficult and taxing on my mental health. Coming from San Francisco, a place where I called my home and learned so much about my identity, values, and desire to explore about my own Chinese culture, to here, a location where I see barely anyone who looks like me and where I am constantly objectified, cat-called, and fetishized....has been really hard. At times, I have felt rejected by Buenos Aires....and a part of me felt rejected by my internship the first day. Over half of the staff are white and I didn't feel very welcomed in by those in the organization A part of me really wanted to enter my internship space and immediately feel like I found "home" in the city. This was not the case. However, as I have mentioned in my previous blog posts, home is an elusive concept and my definition is constantly changing. I haven't let go of the hope that this experience will serve as an exploration of what "home" is for me. Seeking out communities where you feel loved and celebrated is sometimes a lot harder than you think it is. It takes time, patience, and giving yourself a LOT of grace! And that is the exact practice of what I am trying to embody on a deeper level.

  • I am trying to enter my internship with an open mind. Although I didn't feel a sensation of home right away, I know that I have some time in this space to cultivate the kind of opportunity I want to manifest!

  • I am working on practicing my sacred yes's and no's! Setting boundaries in all aspects of your life (academic, personal, family, social) is crucial if you want to embody life to the fullest and drop into a deeper sense of self.

  • I am letting myself feel all the feels! (anxiety, loneliness, happiness, gratitude, and more...) Being in predominately white spaces is EXHAUSTING and I think that my body is catching up with my whirling mind and really telling me in a physical and mental way that I am just tired. I need to give myself a rest! There were definitely moments of this week where I really wanted to just go home. But where is home for me? Who is home for me?

 

Alas, every single time I think I'm going to write a "short" blog post, I always end up rolling out an 8-minute-read blog post....well. If you have made it this far, THANK YOU! Thank you always for showing up and spending some time to read about my adventures. I really appreciate it and can't thank you all enough. If you couldn't tell, these blog posts function as a type of public diary in some way where I can really take a minute to sit and reflect and be vulnerable with you all. I thank you all for making that space for me.


Until the next time.

~ alice <3


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Kaia Larsen
Kaia Larsen
Nov 02, 2022

Loved reading your post Alice, I am so happy I got to see you this past week!! Excited to hear more about your internship in the coming weeks. LOVE YOU!

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