In Chapter 2 of Becoming World Wise: A Guide to Global Learning Richard Slimbach profoundly states, “If we allow, global learning will not only carry us into the world around us, but also into this world within.” (p. 54) In my case the “world within” which Slimbach highlights, was a sense of belonging which went beyond being an American citizen. This being my last week before my departure for America, I found myself pondering my polarizing sojourn and story while abroad… These internal questions go hand in hand with what Slimbach calls “The Story We Need”, an idea which Slimbach holds that students time abroad should embody a loom, weaving together ideas and realizations beyond regular circumstances, eventually creating a unique fabric of moral, intellectual, and spiritual values.
As for my own loom, it has been steadfast in weaving away ever since I wrote my first Travelogue in May. Since I arrived in Spain I have never stopped wondering how my actions might influence my new world and how I might make leaps in my understanding of the world beyond my fingertips. What ultimately came out of my sojourn for such answers was a glimpse into that world within; insight which has been a precious to me. I have come to see that my purpose for making this journey has been not just to travel for wanderlust but to get acquainted with cultures before I could only cite facts about. My semester abroad brought me up close and personal with the ideas and people that had been a world away until now. I learned that what comes with spending time in a world, like an alien, is the wonderful ability to explore and learn new things with vigor; there are infinite locals, destinations, spontaneous occurrences, traditions, and conclusions to find out there. Now, because I have been abroad, as my rite of passage ends, I feel awoken to the idea of learning of strange customs in this beautiful light; no longer am I scared of strange customs, but rather intrigued and excited. And this idea I have come to learn not only applies to being abroad, but also back home too. There is so much we leave untouched in our day to day lives in America, there is much to seek and uncover on our own soil.
Slimbach pushes the student even further as he stresses, “If we view the world as signifying nothing and going nowhere, a place where we simply exert ourselves to secure personal advantage, study abroad will only serve to decorate our resume or satisfy our wanderlust. But if we define our purpose in the world as promoting what is good and just, those same sojourns will be oriented towards comprehending the world in order to remake it. Mere knowledge about the world is not sufficient as its own end; it is always situated in particular values and oriented towards ends beyond itself. This is why our overarching objective cannot merely be to become more ‘globally competent’ as important (and difficult) as that might be. The question is, Globally competent for what purpose?” (Slimbach, 42).
That question, “For what purpose” is not an easy question to answer. All I can say is that, personally, I found purpose in that my transformation from the beginning to the passage, until now has been more than I ever expected, I have found purpose that in each lesson I learn abroad brings me closer to having more connections and understandings to the world. The world is more than just myself and America.
As my departure draws near, I realize there is the process of separation once again, where I prepare for my rejoining my original culture. When I think about all the things I’ve done in my time I am proud to have made local friends, in Rosa and Julio. They are two incredible inspiring friends I’ve made. This past week I’ve made my goodbyes with Sevilla and my neighborhood in Los Remedios by wandering in the streets everyday. It’s a good way to remember this beautiful city, walking around on the sidewalks always offers glimpses into the simple life of the people of Sevilla. The city’s vibrant people and vibe is something I won’t ever forget. As Christmas is coming up I bought a few vintage American forest fire items for Julio, as he looks forward to becoming a Forest Firefighter in the future. As for Mrs. Rosa, I’ve gotten her traditional Christmas flowers. This ending is bittersweet as they come, but I’ve been prepared for this, I know I can’t stay forever and a part of me eagerly awaits returning to my loved ones back home. That does not mean I won’t be leaving loved ones behind in Sevilla… A comforting thought for myself is that I will return to this city eventually, I have made that promise to myself. Even more comforting is that all the life changing ideas and insights I have made abroad, I get to bring back with me.
Slimbach, R. (2010). Becoming World Wise: A Guide to Global Learning.