As I say my last goodbyes or “hopefully see you laters” to new friends and acquaintances I have made in Barcelona, I reflect on what it means to be a mindful traveler and studying abroad. As I reincorporate back into my home country, I take into account my impression that I have made in Barcelona. At first, I was stunned by the dazzling new environment I was going to be in and the new things that it was going to offer me. However, I slowly found myself becoming more engrossed with Spain`s motivations behind its legislations, protests, thoughts, and philosophies about life. This attributes to getting to know the deep cultural level of a new society. This focuses on the development of attitudes, history, traditions on a global and national level. Slimbach talks about this in the second chapter, “The StoryWe Need” to emphasize how people can use their story to connect to each other on multiple levels. Global learning allows for these connections through the sharing of different stories that stresses different issues. These stories then become a motivation to learn about the issues and try to resolve them. Some of the more famous figures in history who have shared this stories include Martin Luther King Jr, Joan of Arc, and Hellen Keller. Their stories have made a huge cultural difference and paved the way for new integrated and global world. Everyone has an important story to share, but without the people behind them forcing them to be told nothing would be changed.
Global learning lets us get a clearer insight for the things that are avoided in an academic setting. An example of this would be the global warming. There are many people who do not believe that global warming is happening or they believe it is completely inexistent. However, if a person studies in a small village in China where there only source of water resources is from the melting glaciers from the North, was the person ignorant of this issue? Of course not, but the problem is that only global learning encourages these types of discussions because you deal with problems hands on. Another cause of this are the myths that our society provokes on people. These myths help us dismiss anything that is not from technological information because, ” Market capitalism, rationalism, technicism, individualism, materialism, and many other isms, as ways of seeing, shape the way we experience the world. Each may contain important truths. The problem comes when those truths are inflated and used to exclude other, perhaps more accurate, ways of seeing.” The exclusion of others numbs our sensitivity to account for others who are affected by our actions or by another group`s.” (Slimbach 1000 Kindle). Yet we can learn to retreat from these myths by using our knowledge from abroad or from service and enlightening others of what we learned.
The quote Slimbach says that reads: “If we allow, global learning will not only carry us into the world around us but also into this world within” stands out to me(p. 54). Global connections are meant to guide some sort of change within us that can better us and others. If study abroad or service were meant for totally our advantage, many of the stories noted in T-shirt travels, and Half the Sky would go unnoticed. Although I have not connected with as many locals here as I would have wished, I have connected to the culture here. Catalans are brave, in the sense that, they fight for what they truly believe in. They voice their opinions constantly because, for several centuries that opportunity was taken from them from Isabel`s rule in the 1880s, to the Franco Regime in the 1970s, Barcelona has experienced a long period of restraint. Now that I have become more engrossed in the culture, I know why they desperately fight for independence. Their stories have come to me through personal encounters, news stories, and just observation and reflection. Without this global traveling, I would not get this exposure into a new cultural context. It was never about my personal experience, but about addressing the experiences of others that have an affect on me , my country, and on a global level.
In more ways than one I consider myself to be a global learner now instead of a study abroad student. A typical study abroad student may confine themselves to their pre-expectations distancing from the unknown. Mindful travelers integrate into host country quicker, because ” Rather than trying to conquer the worlds we visit or convert them to our way of thinking, we surrender to them. The fact that we are strangers in the land quickens our attention and leaves us wide awake to our thoughts and emotional responses.” (Slimbach 1112). The connections made here with Americans and Locals can only create more bridges of understanding and value of the global community and what it means to portray the idea of being world-wise.
The global connections I have had has shown me how important it is to accept the unfamiliar without doubt or judgment. For me, judgment was a pretty easy thing because I was very used to a certain routine in life. However, being amongst others who were different than me and spoke a different language made it harder to assimilate into Spain. By going to local hang outs and exploring the city, I have made a way to make Barcelona a part of me by carrying all of the sights, sounds, and experiences here in the Spain. One specific way I have altered my way of being a responsible citizen is through travel and homelessness. Even though, I knew homelessness was a global epidemic I did not think that in Europe it would be very widespread. No matter which city I went to despite its GPD or amount of tourism homelessness plagued the streets. Homelessness is painfully worse in Barcelona because people who are missing limbs or vertebrae are the ones who are homeless. It bothers me that the European Union made up of hundreds of countries can not solve this issue let alone the United States. This is a global issue that I can relate too back home as homelessness is very prevalent to where I live. I feel highly empathetic to these people, and as I reincorporate I intend to share this story of why homelessness should be solved.
Before I leave for Barcelona, I intend to have a dinner with all of my new friends at CEA. Here in Spain lunch and dinner is a communal event marking a time of developing relationships. I plan to have tapas at a local restaurant in Barri Gotic while exclaiming “Xin Xin” as a toast. Xin Xin in Catalan means good health, cheers in Catalan. I wish everyone I have meet good health, a good year and the best of wishes. Here I have felt a personal growth unlike no other as my wealth of knowledge and hands-on experience has led me to go further into philosophical contemplation leaving me feeling more complete inside. As Gal Sheem puts it, “If we don’t
change, we don`t grow. If we don
t grow, we arent really living.
Slimbach, Richard (2012-03-12). Becoming World Wise: A Guide to Global Learning (Kindle Locations 1112-1113). Stylus Publishing. Kindle Edition.
Slimbach, Richard (2012-03-12). Becoming World Wise: A Guide to Global Learning (Kindle Locations 1000-1002). Stylus Publishing. Kindle Edition.