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Wednesday
May132009

Final Reflections

Reflecting back on my SPAN experience as a whole, I feel I am very blessed to have been a part of the program. From June 3, 2008 until August 19, 2008, I had the opportunity to live and do fieldwork in Buenos Aires, Argentina through the SPAN program. It was truly a wonderful experience that I will never forget. Before coming to Buenos Aires, I did not know what to expect. I had previously lived in both Latin America and Europe before, but Buenos Aires was something completely different. It was a distinct mix of European architecture with a Latin American feel to the streets, people, and way of life. The city was simply enormous, and had style and grandeur to go with its great size. 

I lived in the historic barrio of San Telmo just blocks away from the city’s central market and also from La Bombonera (The Chocolate Box), the famous stadium of the most popular soccer team in Argentina, Boca Juniors. It was a great place to live because it was minutes away from the working class neighborhood of La Boca, downtown Buenos Aires, and the lovely views of Puerto Madero, but it was also in an area that was always busy and bustling because of its proximity to major tourist sites. 

During my time in Argentina, I grew as a person. I learned how to live completely on my own in a different country with a different language and this helped me grow. Coping with everyday life in a foreign context was a vitalizing experience and it gave me a great deal of confidence in that I now feel like I can succeed in any situation, no matter where I am. I am more prepared for all of life’s curveballs because I know that in any situation, I just have to stay calm and enjoy the moment like I did in Argentina. Living there helped me open up as a person and I am now less guarded and more receptive to trying out new things and different situations. My research also gave me motivation because after meeting Afro-Argentines and learning about their struggle, it made me more motivated to fight for the lost, muted voices of all countries and societies. Gaining their trust and entering into their lives let me gain not only a new perspective on social, political and economic situations, but it also helped me build friendships that will last a lifetime. Thus, personally, I have greatly changed for the better because of SPAN. 

Furthermore, I felt that I not only grew as a person, but also as a scholar. I learned how to do fieldwork, in conducting interviews, observing cultural practices, and analyzing discussions. I now am very confident that I can do any type of research. The SPAN experience and what I learned and got out of it has also made me more able to compete in this increasingly competitive world. I won the Fulbright Grant to Venezuela, and I know that without the SPAN experience, I would not have received the grant. Thus overall, I feel very grateful to have been given the opportunity to be a part of the SPAN program. It is a memory that I will keep forever. 

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