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  • Writer's pictureAl G

Tension

Updated: Nov 20, 2022

tldr: resetting, connecting studies to Africana thought, feeling tired, missing home

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 felt super inspired (thanks to Kaia and Anna, my fellow-Davidson wildcats who are also keeping a blog about their study abroad experience) to write a post, even though it hasn't been quite a full week since my last one! As they both similarly mention in their own respective blogs (which you should totally check out if you have time!), it's been hard for me to maintain a balance of "living in the moment" and keeping up a blog! I love reflecting upon my week and looking back at old photos, but sometimes when writing it, it does feel like a chore. I want to include academic content that I've learned here in Argentina and also maintain a somewhat academic tone, but also, I want to be personal with you all! I want to share my LIFE with you, not just what we learn in the classroom. I want to really delve into the high's and low's of being abroad and showcase the most authentic experience possible for you all, as abroad is far more than just a highlight reel you see on social media. In fact, as I have touched on in my past blog posts, abroad is a holistic learning experience (but isn't life in general too? This human experience that we all embark on just doesn't fail to amaze me!!) It's also hard for me to maintain a blog in English when I really want to be maintaining my Spanish as much as possible.... Needless to say, I really am enjoying writing my blog despite its challenges at times. It honestly feels like I'm writing a little letter to all of you back at "home" or wherever home is for you all and sending it in a little bottle to you across the ocean from Argentina to wherever you are all right now! Now, let's dive into this week's letter...

Argentina Skyline!

After coming back from a long day of travel this Monday from our excursion to the North (which I talked about in my last post), I took time to reset a bit and catch my break from all of the travel. However, that rest really did not last long, as we all jumped right back into class on Tuesday. I ended up volunteering to "take-over" the Davidson Study-Abroad Instagram and vlogging (video logging or filming) my day! I had so much fun taking everyone along on my busy day (which felt like a SUPER SUPER MONDAY!) which consisted of two classes (Research Methods & Social Movements Class) and an informational interview. I was reminded how much I miss YouTube and filming for my channel....


During our social movements class, we talked about the concepts of territorialization and reterritorialization. More specifically, our professor (....who actually is my host mom's nephew. What a small world!) spoke about the concepts of space and power. How can physical territory take up political space? How do these locations become battlefields for power and moreover, how can the people who inhabit these places use their own positionality as agency to define their own narrative? This class both made me think about our visits to the Mapuche community and their fight for land reclamation, as well as Simone Brown's book Dark Matters on racial surveillance (an Africana thinker that I covered in class at Davidson). How do the Mapuche community "take up space" literally and metaphorically? When we visited the different tribes, we learned how many of the communities are facing eviction. Any day, the government might come and kick them out and they have no place to go. How does territory become a political battlefield as some Mapuche communities are fighting for legal recognition of their physical space? Then, as our professor continued his lecture, I began to draw connections to my Africana studies at Davidson. Throughout last Spring, I learned about racial surveillance and the way Black bodies are objectified, surveilled, and "territorialized." In Simone Browne's words, the Black body is “technologically enhanced by way of a simple device made for a visual surplus where technology met surveillance” (79)" As the book continues, Browne then begins to question this discourse and challenges how these Black bodies can be re-imagined, re-defined....and perhaps...."re-territorialized"? I would highly recommend Browne's book for anyone who is fascinated in racial surveillance - a concept that is extremely important to be aware of in general. We live within a society that continues to uphold white supremacy with its surveillance practices that target underserved communities. I strongly believe it is our job to help dismantle this systemic racism and educate ourselves to understand how we, as individuals, can disengage from these harmful narratives and instead, learn how to elevate Black voices and those who are not given the chance to speak their truth.


After my fascinating class where I was able to intersect Africana thought and Social Movements (not surprising, since Africana studies is SO interdisciplinary!), I had an informational interview with a Davidson alumni and then I went to a cafe with my friend Maddie to study....I am trying to balance being present in the moment here, while also focusing on applying to internships for next summer! I hope to be in San Francisco next summer; however, the internship search is extremely competitive, which is why I started in August and I have been on the grind (as this generation would say haha....) ever since. I've been completing informational interviews, doing interviews for jobs, and writing cover letters for various jobs in the Bay Area. Although it has been difficult being rejected from some jobs and putting in all of this effort to search for a job that has yet to come to fruition, I have faith in the process and I know that every single moment throughout my internship search has been extremely important for my professional development!


Betina's Art Gallery!

On Wednesday, I went to class and then had Betina's art gallery! Betina is my host mom and is an artist who sells her paintings all over the world (Canada, Europe, United States, Latin America!) I had the extremely privilege to be able to attend one of her art showings in Espacio Colegiales - a gallery nearby our house! Her work was incredible and I'm so proud of her!! It was also so much fun to meet her family and friends who attended her gallery.


On Thursday, we had a VERY busy day. Just when you thought the traveling was over.....we took a 45 minute bus to the country side outside of CABA (Autonomous City of Buenos Aires) and visited a human rights / social movements organization called UTT (Union of the Workers of the Earth). This collective focuses specifically on food sovereignty. However, it is not just about getting fresh food, such as fruits and vegetables, directly to the table. UTT has educational workshops for everyone (especially youth) to explain the importance of sustainable food practices (such as not using chemicals and toxins!!) and equitable work practices. We had the tremendous privilege and opportunity to directly visit one of the families who is part of the organization that is made up of over 25,000 families. Our group of 16 cooked lunch with those from UTT, using fresh ingredients from the field. We ended up making veggie burgers from lentils, beets, squash, and chickpeas. They were absolutely delicious! They also taught us how to make "Paraguayan Soup" which is NOT a soup texture, but more like a corn-bread with onion and cheese inside. Our entire meal was scrumptious and I cultivated such gratitude for the food before me. Knowing where your food is sourced and understanding the labor that was put into it, in my opinion, increases your gratitude for that meal by tremendous lengths. My friend Cece and I said a quick prayer before diving into our meal, which really emphasized the thankfulness we had for that very moment and made us cherish each bite even more!

After our day-long class in the morning and day-long excursion, I decided to go to hatha yoga class to unwind. As I sat on the yoga mat, I realized how tight my entire body was. Learning about such intense topics throughout that entire week prior during our excursion (police brutality, sexual assault/abuse, domestic violence, etc.) and just in general, existing in a location where I don't feel represented (physically) by the people around me...made me reflect on how much my body holds this....tension......this tension that builds and builds and builds, whether you know it or not! Doing this yoga class (although it didn't make the tension magically disappear) provided me a space to really reflect within my body in a physical and metaphorical way. Where is the tension literally pent up in my body? Through my difficult yoga poses as I struggled to balance, I focused on my breath. Breathing in. Breathing out. I allowed myself to be OKAY with the discomfort. I've been feeling homesick for people I love, for familiarity, for a place where I feel represented by people who look like me. But, I know it's going to be okay....

Having a café with my friends :)

On Friday, I had a lovely tea and cookies moment with my friends from my program. I can't iterate enough how lucky I am to have such a special group on this study abroad experience! They have been such spiritual guides, such grounding forces for me, as we all navigate this crazy time in Argentina.... I feel so grateful to be able to have this space to drop into with them. I can really be my authentic self and I can't tell you how many times I have burst out in laughter and had the whole restaurant staring because my laugh is so loud and full of love for these humans!! Furthermore, over this past week, I took time to call many friends from back home. Although I pride myself for living in the moment, I have discovered that being present can still include video calling and texting people you love and that you call home! It's a delicate balance that I'm still honestly navigating, but I'm trying not to let myself feel guilty about missing people who I care about and taking time to include them in my life in Argentina!

On Saturday, I went to Uruguay for the day! We took a boat at 8:30 am in the morning (but had to be at the station at 6:30 am...) and then took the 5:00 pm boat back. My friends and I explored Colonia, a very quaint city on the river and had lunch. Unfortunately, we did not have much time to wander around and it was SUPER cold (for Argentina in the Spring that is). This trip was a planned excursion by our program directors as we have to "leave" the country to keep our visa's! After I got back from Colonia, I went straight to the "Noche of Museos" (Night of the Museum - a cultural celebration in the city where all of the museums are open until 2 am and free!) I helped out with my internship group (the Asociación Cultural Chino-Argentino - ACCA) and got to see a cultural celebration where there was all of this live music and dance from various countries!

I ended the night catching up with my close friend Luis, who is currently doing a Watson fellowship and was just in Argentina with me for two months (coincidentally!) but now is in Brazil! I spent all of today (Sunday) studying for my FINAL EXAMS (crazy, right...!!?) I have two tests in Spanish this week and then my final week of classes as well for SIT! I start my internship "officially" this week, but then really start working for them on a regular basis a week from tomorrow! I'm super excited for what this next (and final) chapter of abroad will bring and I'm excited for you all to come along for my journey!


I really love how I thought this was going to be a "short" blog post, but for some reason, I just can't seem to hold myself back from sharing everything with you all! I hope you all enjoyed my post and thank you again for reading my blog. You all mean so much to me.

Sending love from Argentina,

Alice <3

and love from the dogs of Argentina <3

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genagarner
Oct 29, 2022

More action-packed living. Please bottle up some of your energy and give it to me! I’d say “good luck on your finals!”, but it is too late for that! So, all the best wishes for your internship! I love reading all that are sharing. ❤️❤️❤️❤️😊

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