Travel Log 15: “Rites of Reincorporation” by Janine Jay. Old Greenwich, Connecticut

I hauled by 100+ pound bags across the whole of London, to Heathrow with my muscles shaking by the end of it. I finally got to sit down on the plane for 8 hours and in that time leaving this new home of mine it really started to hit me that the past five months were really coming to a conclusion. Could I really be going home already? I started to make a mental list to see that I’d covered everything on my London bucket list. It seemed like the plane was going through a portal taking me to a new world I had known forever, but that will never be the same to me after this journey. After piling my bags in the car and cuddling my puppy in the back seat, my parents told me that the dog had started to bark out the window and get excited even before I had left the airport; she somehow knew I was there. To me that was the sign that I was where I belonged. If there is one thing that I have absolutely learned from this trip, it’s that home is where your loved ones are, the memories and good times will always follow that.

It’s hard to believe that I was thousands of miles away only a week ago but since coming home it’s been a whirlwind of family visits and endless questions about what my favorite part was. (I still can’t answer that myself, I loved everything!) I think the hardest part of this all was trying to finish everything I needed to do in the week I was home amidst my parents packing for a trip of their own and half of my house being under construction. But amongst this chaos is home, my family has always been a fast-paced group of people who always are moving onto the next adventure. If I had come home to everything orderly, then it simply wouldn’t have been home. Besides, who wants to slow down when there is so much life to live?

In my letter of reincorporation, I shared a quote by Paul Fussel who commented, “In that travel provides at least temporary escape from inherited traditions and personal identity, it can be seen as an act of rebellion, a means of separating oneself from the dominant influences of kith and kin in order to define and assert an identity of our own. I travel; therefore, I am.” (2010, pg. 203) This quote struck me because it showed to my parents how this experience has changed me as an individual, separate from my family ties and now it is my mission to combine the new person I am with the communities I’ve grown up in. My parents were very supportive of all that I have done in the past few months and continue to be supportive every day. They always helped me out when I had a question and always offered ideas of things to do in the places I visited so that I could experience everything that I could. They made sure that I was comfortable and ready for each next step. It means the world to me that I have them as a support system. I wouldn’t have been able to study abroad in the first place, physically or emotionally without them.

Now that I am back in the states, I have been looking for ways to make sure that the patterns I had learned in Europe continued in my life here. As I read Slimbach’s paragraph on habits, I remembered how I had started to create routines during my journey that were really beneficial. When I started my time in London I made my bucket list, so that I would always have a next step of what to do. I learned to plan ahead and to make sure that every day I left the dorm by mid-morning so that I would experience everything I could instead of remembering my time from inside a dorm room. These routines and rules let me explore areas of London that I hadn’t known existed before just from walking around aimlessly. To continue with these patterns here, I plan on keeping my mid-morning rule and to create a bucket list for each new phase of my life- including both my internship this summer, and senior year. I learned to be a more relaxed person in Europe and enjoy everything that comes my way. As Slimbach remarks, “Realize that, in the end, explaining one’s personal transformation is not nearly as important as living it.” (2010, pg. 210) I want to show all of the people around me that Europe has changed me for the better and that and that as a result I will bring the ideals I have learned there with me everywhere I go.

 

Works Cited

Slimbach, Richard. Becoming World Wise: A Guide to Global Learning. Sterling, VA: Stylus Pub., LLC, 2010. Kindle for Mac.

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Travel Log 14: “Global Connections & Rites of Separation” by Janine Jay. London, England

With only two weeks left in my new home, I’ve spent the entire morning wondering how I am going to fit in seeing all of my favorite spots before my departure. I don’t want to even start to think about how I need to pack up all of my belongings and leave, so I’m distracting myself by having every day packed with adventures both new and old to make sure that no stone is left unturned before I leave. On my last night, it only seems right to leave the way I started and return to the first pub I ever went to. But I have been taking walks every day to try to take pictures of everything that I can. These confusing and sometimes scary streets have become familiar, each turn containing a memory.

I’ve been reflecting a lot on my past 125 days in London and trying to compare myself at the beginning of this journey with who I am now at the end. Have I managed to take the best of both of my new homes and combine it into a single persona? As Slimbach remarks, “If we allow, global learning will not only carry us into the world around us, but also into this world within” (2010, pg. 54) My time in this bustling city has allowed me to encounter people from all types of life, from my professors to the people you sit next to in the tube. The global learning that I have encountered has allowed me to learn about London and its vast history, and also about myself. When I observe cultures different than my own, I am not only learning about those cultures but I can also analyze my own with a keen eye to ask myself questions such as “why do we really have an instinct to make a batch of 24 cookies rather than 9?”. (I think it’s to do with hospitality)

This new perspective on myself and my country caused me to reflect on the elements of my culture which with I agree and disagree. I’ve begun to see healthcare, economic, and foreign policy issues in a new light. Just last week on a long 10-hour bus ride back to London I went through the UK border control at the English Channel where a mother and her daughter were turned away after traveling the same journey as me. Why am I allowed to go through when they are turned away after doing nothing wrong? Being a global citizen means that I am obligated to be more informed about what is going on in the world and what effect it will have on the future. Though I am just an individual, my small contribution will always make a big impact on the world whether directly or indirectly.

The context of my global travel has helped me to shape the person I am today. Without the physical separation of myself from my home, I would not have the mind space to reflect on the actions I take automatically. Slimbach touches on this connection when he says, “Humans are specially graced with reflective consciousness and the capacity to choose among the possibilities of our nature. As such, we have the unique opportunity to connect an inner journey of self-discovery with an outer journey of world discovery.” (2010, pg. 51) The clues from the world around me spark ideas about my own philosophy and the way in which I live my life. This in turn evolves into a reflection of how each of my actions affects others. Like moving gears on a clock I’m starting to see that every turn I take makes the whole machine tick.

 

Works Cited

Slimbach, Richard. Becoming World Wise: A Guide to Global Learning. Sterling, VA: Stylus Pub., LLC, 2010. Kindle for Mac.

Travel Log 13: “Connecting Rites of Passage and Digital Storytelling” by Janine Jay. London, England

I think I have heard “learn from other people’s mistakes” from my mother more times than I can count. In a world where many people claim that we have lost the art of common sense, I think the problem is really that we have forgotten to learn from those around us. We are rarely the first person to do something and when we are I can bet that there has been someone before us that has at least thought about or attempted what we are aiming for. Our parents, though it is hard to imagine sometimes, have been through all of the tests and trials of growing up and finding our way through the journey of becoming an adult. We have always looked to them for guidance but in a world where we don’t have a clear-cut understanding on what it means to ‘grow up’, we end up having to interpret it for ourselves.

How many times have you heard “Oh grow up”? This could mean a variety of things. ‘Stop being so immature’, ‘Go get a job’, ‘It’s time for you to move out of your parent’s basement’. As Blumenkrantz talks about- “In the absence of meaningful community-based rituals, youth will define and create their own marker events based on peer or media values, many of which may be destructive both individually and communally. Indeed, this is how binge drinking, drug use, teen pregnancy and other similar behaviors have become elevated to rites of passage reflecting adult status.” (2010, pg. 43) A quick search on Buzzfeed or Amazon will produce a bunch of results with guides on “How to Adult”. Really! A guide on how to do something that is a natural, biological process of progressing in life. As if we are the first ones to ever go through this process, we have to write our own guides for how to do what billions of people have done before us.

Rites of passage keeps us on a path towards our goal without being diverted onto trails leading to self-destruction. Without confirmation from my community, I will have to seek it from my peers with rituals that we make up ourselves. I will sneak out in high school to prove I can handle myself at night or party on my 21st birthday to make the passage to ‘freedom’. But these can be dangerous and with no one monitoring them, we end up in potentially life threatening situations. The simple way to curb this gap is to create community based rituals to bring us all together. As talked about in Grime’s book Deeply into the Bone “we risk our children’s humanity if we fail to initiate them.” (2000, pg. 100) For the sake of our own children, we should be instilling rites of passage as a fail-safe so that they will be guided on a straight path through life.

A digital story is meant to articulate one’s personal growth that has occurred before, during, and after your time abroad in order to share with the many communities that we are a part of back home. In my digital story, I want to talk about the way that slowing down has been a very important part of what I have learned here. In the Blumenkratnz reading, there were three elements of the rites of passage that stuck out to me. The first was the element of community values and ethics which talks about developing a consensus of the expectations of youth growing up. I have been thinking a lot lately about my responsibility as an adult and a global citizen and have spent a lot of time researching and reflecting on the characteristics of a good human being. This examination has led to the topic of virtues, which is a common theme throughout our readings for this class. The second element was that of silence. With the busy schedule that I lead every day, I discovered the importance and the thrill of silence. It feels like a foreign concept to me but simply laying down in my bed just to reflect on the world with no noise around me has produced peace and introspection that I find unparalleled. Lastly, an element that I really connected with was that of connection with nature. One of the most important practices that I have taken up here has been walking through the various parks around London. It is so peaceful to find yourself in a green escape in this huge, moving city. Even the canal walk along the side of my campus has become a ritual excursion that I don’t know what I would do without.

One story that struck me the most was Rachel Cox’s in Paris, France. I loved the theme of foliage as a way to show her growth as a student in a new country. It really painted a picture of how she was evolving with this new persona. With my new connection to silence and nature, I think I will incorporate a similar theme in my own digital story to show the shift in values that I have been noticing in mu time here. Hopefully my digital story will show people in my communities back home how important it is to have self-examinations and experiences to grow as an individual.

Works Cited:

Blumenkrantz, D. G., Goldstein, M. B. (2010). Rites of Passage as Framework for Community Interventions with Youth. Global Journal for Community Psychology Practice. 1 (2), 41-50.

Grimes, Ronald. (2000) Deeply into the Bone- Chapter 2 Coming of Age, Joining Up. University of California Press. 88-148.

Digital Storytelling Presentation Slides

Travel Log 12: “Service” by Janine Jay. London, England

For my community service, I chose to work at the St. Luke’s Older Person’s Lunch Club. This club meets once a month to provide a nice environment and a hearty meal to those over 75 living in a retirement community or on their own. The meals are provided by a local restaurant under contract and volunteers set up, serve, talk with guests, and clean up. They provide a great meeting place where people from the community can see their friends who they might not see otherwise due to difficulty moving about. The regular volunteers there really seemed like people that loved the ones they served, they showed a long-term relationship with the people and got to know them.

At first I was entering into a slightly familiar territory- I had volunteered as a server many times for my church back home; mass meals in the kitchen were my domain. This however was a new experience in that I was in an unfamiliar neighborhood with complete strangers. I was used to serving people that had known my parents as students or were friends with my grandparents. But here there was no common connection- I was the stranger. I started by staying in the background and helping as much as I could in the kitchen, but when I finally ventured into the dining area and talked with the people there, I could really feel a connection. The people there were really interested in what study abroad was and were amazed by all that I was experiencing at such a young age. A few of them talked about how their grandchildren went to the same school I was attending now. And of course, they all debated the correct way to serve tea.

I think I felt more integrated into the community after sitting down and talking with these people. I was more at ease in this unknown area. I felt less like a foreigner and more like a resident. There is a very strict rule about study abroad students not being able to work paid or unpaid during their time here. So besides the academic environment, it is quite difficult to meet locals to integrate into your new community. This chance to sit down and talk with people that had spent their entire lives in a little neighborhood showed me a new side of the London I had seen. London is a very diverse city, so to meet true born English was something I really hadn’t had the chance to experience.

Volunteering is important because it really takes you out of the bubble you adjust to during your time abroad and shows you a new light on your surroundings. You might walk down a street a thousand times during your stay here but little did you know that around the corner there was a whole new area with new stories to tell. It’s our duty as mindful travelers to put ourselves in situations we aren’t entirely used to so that we can experience the world from as many different perspectives as we can. This will ultimately make us better people by being able to see the effects a situation has on many different areas of life. Slimbach references in his writing “Upon returning home, our challenge is to then transform our new consciousness into responsible actions within nearby communities”. (2010, pg. 28) This observation is completely accurate in that as I rode the underground back to campus after my time at St. Luke’s, I could only think of different ways that I could get more involved back home in my own neighborhood.

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Slimbach remarks, “The first step in this journey is to venture outside our comfort zones and get involved directly and personally in the lives of others, especially those occupying the margins of society…to create respectful and mutually beneficial relationships”. Without this opportunity at St. Luke’s, I would have never met the people that helped me feel less of an outsider in this new community. These people don’t often get to leave their homes or retirement communities; by helping them enjoy this time together, we both benefitted.

Works Cited:

Slimbach, Richard. Becoming World Wise: A Guide to Global Learning. Sterling, VA: Stylus Pub., LLC, 2010. Kindle for Mac.

Travel Log 11: “Holding up Half the Sky” by Janine Jay. London, England

Half the Sky focused on the imbalance of privilege and human rights between men and women across the globe. Although in first world countries, women have fought for their rights and now are being seen as equal to their male counter parts, there is still a long way to come for women across the globe to be considered the same status. When the basic questions of ‘Does your husband beat you?’ or ‘Do you receive an education?’ can be answered with the shockingly less-obvious answer without so much as a blink of an eye, it makes you wonder why this isn’t a bigger deal. Here in this documentary, celebrities were going on these journeys and meeting these people- but I had never seen any of this in our news. What happened after this documentary was made? Where were these people now? Why wasn’t anyone talking about this?

I was shocked to watch it. Why did I live the life I did when across the world I might not even have a say in what I did with my life? I’ve never had to be very concerned about my own safety or access to an education but this was a reality that people had to face every single day. Half the Sky revealed the tragic realities that these women woke up each morning and thought about each night before bed. They had no faults except for the place and time they were born. The message of the film was clear- it brought awareness to the rights that we take for granted that are only a dream to millions around the globe- namely, basic human rights for women. It is our responsibility to act on behalf of these women to make the world a place of equality.

One girls story struck a chord with me; Duyen My Thi Le from Vietnam was born to a family of eucalyptus farmers where she spends her days watching the other children. She was selected to be a part of the program Room to Read that brings education to girls from select poor families. They provide books, tutors, and a location to study, all to help being literacy and options to these girls. Duyen has to bike 17 miles every day to school through areas that I without a doubt wouldn’t have been allowed to go as a kid. But, she makes the journey every day because she knows this might be her only opportunity to get out from below the poverty line. They interviewed her family and asked if they approve of their daughter going to school. Her parents responded that they appreciated it, but it was apparent to the viewer that they still thought it was a bit strange for them. I have no doubt in my mind that they believed their daughters place was to be pretty and attract a rich husband so that she could take care of them. In their mind a smart girl would probably find it more difficult to find a husband- she would get ideas of her own. They asked Duyen if her parents would treat her differently as a boy. She responded, “They often did wish I was a son so that I could help them”. They followed by saying that they are proud of her and all that she is learning but this speaks an undeniable truth about the expectancies and privilege being a boy gains across the world.

To me, Duyen seemed conflicted; she was happy for the education that she was receiving and the opportunities it would give her that would only be a distant dream in the past but she was also sad about the differences in expectations that she was showing her parents. This was not the life they imagined for her and I doubt they would fully understand what something like this would mean for their family. It’s simply unfathomable to them even though it could break them out of poverty. But Duyen still pushes herself to bike those 17 miles to and from school so that she can get this education that her parents aren’t terribly keen on because she knows the difference it could make. I don’t know if I have ever heard of an act more brave that what she is doing.

When I think back to my own area of study, it is hard to picture teaching code to someone who has most likely never seen a computer. I mean after all the industry itself is only a few decades old. But there is no doubt that it would make a significant difference in someone in the third world’s life. I mean think of the possibilities you could have if you were one of the first programmers in your country. Learning to program was fairly simple and with the right tools and teachers I have no doubt that a literate girl in these programs would be able to build something to sell. The internet itself opens up many new possibilities- for instance it might be hard to create a popular website in a country where most people don’t have access to the internet, but being one of the few would open up the world as far as information and trade goes. You could set up a website that sells to someone across the globe willing to pay for a product and shipping which would open up for money to pour into the country. STEM is such a helpful and versatile field that a few volunteer tutors could make a huge difference in one of these girls’ lives. One day, I hope that one of those volunteers is me.

Travel Log 10: “Encountering Globalization” by Janine Jay. London, England

On our first day, we trekked one tube stop down from the school to the largest mall in Europe to find bedding. The size of the place was unbelievable as 300+ shops loomed over us on multiple floors all boasting their January sales. We walked down the center of the mall trying to find stores that would sell pillows and I was struck by how many stores I recognized. I mean I really didn’t expect to see a T.G.I.Fridays in the middle of England. Some stores that I had known to have gone out of business back home were here showing off products from catalogues past. Levi, Hollister, Build-A-Bear, Claire’s, Pizza Hut, Urban Outfitters, KFC, Krispy Kreme, and of course McDonalds to name a few. What were these doing here in a British mall? All around me were the brands I was familiar with, some even advertising their Americana image.

Did they all simply hook onto the American image? Or back home am I really experiencing an international palette. As Robins points out, “The globalization process can equally be associated with confrontation and the collision of cultures” (2002, pg. 240). Maybe we choose the best of each culture to morph into our own cultural identity. Does this mean that there is a piece of every culture in every corner of the globe?

According to the documentary Travels of a T-Shirt in a Global Economy, this is not the case. This film depicts the flow of the second-hand American clothes traveling to Africa where their economy has fallen as an aftermath of the first world intrusion of import/export and slavery. This is not one person, nor one country’s responsibility. As mentioned in the film, the World Bank tried to enact economic policies in order to try to get the economy functioning again. However, they did not take into account the country at hands’ needs but rather their own. This only left the countries further in debt.

I once thought of globalization as a natural side effect of creating a global community. By global community, I am referring to our class’s definition of “All people around the world living by and fighting for similar social values and basic rights”. Globalization seems to me to be the merging of different cultures into one mass culture. To me this doesn’t seem right. Aren’t we proud of our own individual identities? Sure, we love to travel to experience difference cultures, but to me this would eliminate travel if we can experience a taste of those other cultures down the road in a restaurant.  Do I really need to go to Rome and Florence if I can get all of that in in the Italian restaurants in “Little Italy” in NYC? This is what the Muslim culture is pushing back against so much- what they see as the West ‘infiltrating’ their culture and influencing their people. I don’t really blame them when the American culture seems to spread as far and wide as it can.

What do we do when there are countries and cultures that cannot afford to say no to influencing cultures? It’s hard to step back when economic deals push forward at a break-neck speed. But it is the right of those people to be able to take their culture into their own hands and choose what to and what not to allow into their country. However, there is no direct way to do this I am afraid; economic dealings come with supply and demand. The more we give into these businesses, the more they will thrive. The only thing to do in order to see these influences slowly go away is to put your money elsewhere. That is part of the reason I have vowed to not try to buy or eat anything that I can get at home. I want to experience the culture in the places I visit for what they are stereotypically known for. So, I will not be stopping into the Starbucks down the street or the Urban Outfitters when I am trying to find something new. Instead it’s Nando’s and Primark.

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I cannot decide whether I like seeing American Apparel stores in the UK. I appreciate the global reach that this company has been able to spread to, but at the same time I see it as an infringement on my time here learning about a new country. Perhaps this is making a big deal over something insignificant but it does make you wonder.

Works Cited:

Robins, K., 2002. Encountering Globalization. In: C. Held & A. McGrew, eds. The Global Transformations Reader. Cambridge: Polity. Ch. 20.

The Travels of a T-shirt in the Global Economy

Travel Log 9: “Exploring Stereotypes” by Janine Jay. London, England

In my time in the UK, I have found many different stereotypes that I had previously known have been myths, but I have also discovered new ones that tend to be true. Not all stereotypes are bad, they are meant to be a common perception of a population. Generally, when we talk about them, they end in a negative context, however some are endearing and accurate.

One stereotype that I have found is inaccurate is with British accents. As it turns out, saying that I love a ‘British’ accent is vague since there are over 20 different ones throughout the UK. If I really wanted to identify my preferences, I would have to get a lot more specific, however I do find them all charming. Another one that is very inaccurate is that Britain has bland and bad food. Really I have never seen so much diversity in one city before. I know I am limited in the fact that I am in a city, however walking down one street in London I see a number of different places to eat that I would never encounter in New York city, and each is delicious. Lastly I was completely under the impression that Brits drank tea all of the time, however I have noticed that they are quite addicted to coffee! Even when you go out for Britain’s greatest pastime, afternoon tea, they ask you if you would like tea or coffee with your meal. Now I have personally decided to stick to tea for the time I am here since I get my regular coffee fix at home and I will say that they do have a wide, complex variety of tea and that everyone has their own way of making it.

There are some British stereotypes that I have found to be accurate. First of all, Brits are very polite. Most of the people I have encountered are very courteous and are willing to have a chat or help you when they can. And yes, saying ‘sorry’ when you bump into someone or when someone bumps into you is a natural response here. In addition, queueing is very common whereas back home I can easily expect people to crowd and try to nudge their way forward, here even their chaos turns orderly. In a big crowd where people are moving in all directions, you can expect people to eventually form lines moving in specific directions.

One stereotype that I was not expecting but now am consciously aware of is that British people often are less revealing in conversation. I often find in my flat’s kitchen when my flat mates are there that I will start to talk about classes or friends or family but my flat mates will talk very vaguely about anecdotes to relate or will reference something they read. At first I thought they didn’t trust me knowing details of their personal life, but really it is just as way of life here that if you don’t know someone for that long, you simply don’t share that sort of information. It has made me very conscious of the things I say. Slimbach says “Travel allows us to distance ourselves from our homespun social standing and experiment with new identities and life directions” (2010, pg. 29). This makes me really think about the traits that I will gain here that I want to bring back with me to capture the best of my two homes.

There are times when I have heard some stereotypes of Americans from some local people who I was completely unaware of. I remember once when someone said Americans were careless with their time and lavish in their spending. I was so confused by this one but remembered that the person had only ever encountered American tourists or study abroad students, but never had actually been to America. I have to think that the people they have encountered were pretty much on vacation, so of course they are going to spend a little more than usual or are going to use their time for fun instead of for work. Meanwhile back home, people in my opinion are very frugal and hardworking. To me that has always been my stereotype of Americans being hardworking because it reflects the iconic American Dream that with equal opportunity and hard work, one can achieve their dreams. However, one stereotype that my British roommate had about Americans however is spot-on: we love peanut butter. They don’t seem to understand it but after having the peanut butter here, I can understand why.

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This photo shows the American aisle of a supermarket in London. As you can see, it is all sugar and junk food, which is where most people get their assumption of the American diet. However, I really don’t believe this accurately reflects the actual diet of many Americans. Sure, we do have a problem with obesity but this is the selection of food because this is the only food that is going to keep well when traveling by plane or boat. It’s not as if we are going to transport fresh fruit and vegetables, or meat and fish overseas. The rest of the store is going to have that, but they can’t simply label that as American, it’s just food!

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On contrast, in a recent trip to Iceland, I was lucky enough to come across this rift. As the North American and European plates collide, they created Iceland and here is the point where the two plates can be seen coming together and pulling apart. To me it was the perfect metaphor for the relationship between the two worlds. They are just that- my two worlds that will be in constant conflict but harmony. In my life they will live together but they will always find a way to contradict each other.

Works Cited:

Slimbach, Richard. Becoming World Wise: A Guide to Global Learning. Sterling, VA: Stylus Pub., LLC, 2010. Kindle for Mac.

Travel Log 8: “Global Responsibility” Part 2 by Janine Jay. London, England

Slimbach talks about how the way students study abroad in today’s world seem to travel with an entitled mindset focused on consumerism. In his view, students gain “…little of the new cultural knowledge, language ability, and perspective change that marks a well-traveled mind”. (2010, pg. 35) In his eyes, the students that travel abroad in this age are going simply on a vacation instead of going to gain a new perspective and to help the world. They focus on what souvenirs they are going to bring back and the trips they are going to go on instead of seeing the neighborhoods around them and the political issues of the country they are staying in.

In his analysis of this character, Slimbach goes on to recall Humphrey Bogart’s character in Casablanca quoting, “’I stick my neck out for nobody’ and ‘The problems of this world are not my account’ are his constant refrains. But in the end, he acts with moral commitments bigger than himself.” (2010, pg. 36) However I think Slimbach is contradicting himself here; he is saying the words of Humphrey Bogart but also pointing out that the character also acted in the way he thought was best. I think there is a similar attitude occurring when students travel abroad. On the surface, students will take thousands of pictures documenting all of the amazing new things they got to experience in their time away from their home. At the same time, these students are experiencing things a world away from what they have grown up around their entire lives. This is something that is going to spark new thoughts running through their head.

Being students, we are very impressionable when we experience things that break our comfort zone. I mean who hasn’t been at the stage in their lives when they haven’t bawled their eyes out due to a movie that made you feel things? In our time abroad, we are experiencing people we never had before, which is going to break the students’ horizons. Heck, we may see things that our parents weren’t even aware of. With this new information, we learn about the good and the bad in the world that is hidden from the public eye and we learn more about what is right and wrong. Just because the thousands of pictures taken aren’t of political issues or the homeless people passed on the street doesn’t mean that the student isn’t experiencing things, it means that they know it would be insulting to take pictures, that experiences such as those aren’t meant to be photographed but rather contemplated. With this contemplation comes a plan for action.

Works Cited:

Slimbach, Richard. Becoming World Wise: A Guide to Global Learning. Sterling, VA: Stylus Pub., LLC, 2010. Kindle for Mac.

Travel Log 7: “Global Responsibility” Part 1 by Janine Jay. London, England

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The cartoon above is mocking the United Nations during the Rwandan Genocide. In 1994 Rwanda went through a horrifying genocide between the two groups – Hutu and Tutsi. This conflict ended in one of the bloodiest horrors that the world has experienced. Having watched Hotel Rwanda as part of my high school social studies class, I remember having to leave the room during the part when a road was lined with dead bodies and there was no other road to get back to town, so the main character was forced to drive over them as it would have taken them weeks to move all of them. This cartoon is portraying the lack of action from the United Nations during this conflict. The documentary we watched as a class Shake Hands with the Devil showed how there were pleas from UN officials to send aid to Rwanda, however there was no action to bring justice to the situation. It is very reminiscent of The Holocaust in that action was only taken when it was too late.

It was the UN’s responsibility to protect the people during this time of need, yet they sat by and did nothing while horrors were unfolding. According to Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, written by the UN, “Everyone has the right to life, liberty, and security of person”. (1948) In this account, the United Nations was not following their own principles by helping those who were being killed off in the thousands. The artist shows a sleeping UN official holding a gun sitting next to provisions while “Rwanda” burns in the background. It is not as if the UN official was making an attempt to help the people, but it clearly shows that they are not even stirred by a great fire breaking out. This shows not only ignorance on their part but also negligence to what was happening around them. The UN should have been sending in military personal to help the people as well as provisions and drafts to possibly make a two-state solution.

There are many more recent examples of this lack of action by the United Nations such as the genocides of Sudan and Darfur. Though there have been several genocides in the past 100 years closely studies by the population, we still see these events unfold with little to no action by governments in authority. The world population as a whole has taken used to shutting their eyes to such things as it was not directly affecting them, but now I believe that we are gaining a new light on the situation and seeing with our own eyes through these films that we cannot sit by when things are out of sight. We as global citizens have the responsibility to take action when someone’s human rights are being violated.

Works Cited:

The United Nations. Universal Declaration of Human Rights. 1948. Print.

Travel Log 6: “The Mindful Traveler” by Janine Jay. London, England

Yesterday I travelled down to Trafalgar Square to go to a Chinese New Year Festival. It was spectacular- all of Chinatown was decorated in paper lanterns and dancing dragons and lions to celebrate. There was a main stage with musical performers and acrobats. The entire scene took careful planning with shops, vendors, trinkets and such. Though it was raining fairly heavily the whole day, it was impossible not to be amazed by the spectacle. I particularly noticed as I was standing off to the side of the square, eating some noodles we bought from a truck nearby how the hosts of the show were trying to engage the audience in cheers. They would tell different sides of the crowd to cheer in a competition against each other, but were met with near silence from each side. Perhaps it was the fact that it was so cold and wet that people were too tired to, yet thousands shows up for the event. I became ever aware of the tradition of Chinese New Year. Was this how it was supposed to be celebrascreen-shot-2017-01-30-at-4-05-40-pmted? I was told this was one of the biggest celebrations outside of China, but why go to so much effort for an unenthusiastic crowd? It struck me that many of the people in attendance weren’t Chinese at all. In fact, I would go as far as to say that many of them were tourists like myself- observing to see the tradition but really act as a spectator (and a consumer).

After leaving the mainstage of the festival I wandered into the shops of Chinatown, I mean how could you not when the smells coming out into the street beckon you like a finger? The people in the shops were smiling from ear to ear, showing us pastries and dishes with Chinese and English writing next to them. I couldn’t help but notice how modest the prices were compared to the price we had just paid for noodles out of the truck back in the main Square. I began to recall that the people working in those trucks didn’t look remotely Asian, which seemed preposterous at a Chinese festival. In our text, it says “Mindfulness compels us to stay cognizant of who actually gains and loses financially from our presence abroad. Beyond that, it urges us to take practical measures to maximize economic benefits to those typically left out of tourism development.” (Slimbach, pg. 86). I began to think the people that owned these shops weren’t getting nearly the same number of customers as those in the trucks. Was it mindless of me to eat what was available to me instead of thinking about where it had really come from?

Mindful traveler asks why to their surroundings. They follow the chain of how things came to be. A ‘carefree drifter’ or ‘mass tourist’ will simply take in their surroundings, take their photos, and contribute little back into their host society. The mindful traveler does research and learns as much as they can about how people live in the culture they are in. It teaches them to ask the right questions about what they are seeing and experiencing instead of taking in with a closed off image of “there” and “home”. This means that we gain little when we try to make a global community. We are simply taking from the host but not contributing to the community that is giving us so much. Our class defined global community as “All people around the world living by and fighting for similar social values and basic rights.” I feel that we are remaining narrow minded when we observe from near or afar but do not analyze or take action in what we see. How can we fight for similar social values when we aren’t exactly clear on what those values are?

I observe my environment with a keen eye. I see how much effort is put into tourism and how that makes it very expensive for actual locals. I 100% believe that ‘mindful traveling’ or the practice of analyzing our surroundings when we travel is key to becoming a new generation of citizens working towards a global community. Personally, I plan on trying to interact with as many local people as I can, as well as observing what they like to eat and do for fun so that I can do the same instead of opting for the well-planned, tourist experiences that are planned out for me. This is quite difficult however due to the fact that with a culture so similar to my home culture, the aspects that make London so special have been heavily catered to tourists. The places like castles and museums I visit, I have learned that my British flat mates have never been to. Now I aim to figure out what it is they do with their time if not the things that I always categorized as ‘British’. This is also making me question if I have done most of the things that people visit my home for. I’ve personally never been to the Statue of Liberty, but should I? Should I try to act as a tourist in my own home? Or should I embrace everything that makes me an American?

Works Cited:

Slimbach, Richard. Becoming World Wise: A Guide to Global Learning. Sterling, VA: Stylus Pub., LLC, 2010. Kindle for Mac.