With no prior knowledge of the area, I was to arrive at “the end of the world,” Patagonia, Argentina, along with ten other students and three professors all from Dickinson College. Everything about this trip seemed a bit ambiguous from the start, but what could we expect! Being the pioneers of Dickinson College’s first Global Mosaic, we had to learn to be patient, flexible, and explore some skills that would soon begin to unfold as the trip revealed itself. These skills were exposed as we unpacked our luggage. Everybody’s luggage contained different tools necessary to make this trip a success. Among some of the tools, we discovered a range of experiences with foreign languages and interviewing techniques. As the journey continued, teamwork and collaboration became essential in establishing our roles within the host society and ourselves.
Our first encounter with this host society occurred at the Italian Association. Arriving late Saturday night, I was disoriented and had no idea of what was going on. When we arrived at the Italian Association, many unfamiliar faces embraced us with a friendly kiss and hug. Their warm greeting made me feel comfortable and as if I knew them. Minutes later it was revealed that these people were our host families. Even though everyday was full of new endeavors, most of my learning experiences occurred with my host family. The late night dinners were filled with lessons about Argentine politics and culture to Portuguese lifestyle and language. Thus, the impact that my host family had on my experience in Argentina was significant. I never thought it would be possible to get attached to people in such short span of time. It became apparent that this host society was willing to share all that they had to offer.
Another example of the effective teamwork and collaboration became evident on our typical workday. It is disturbing, but I was always anxious to be doing some kind of work, preferably interviews. Yet, I now realize that it would be impossible to even get so many interviews for myself, besides that would be rather selfish on my part not to share with others considering that my host family was definitely the best (hahaha). Through interviews I gained insight on women immigrants and their portrayal of themselves. I felt a connection with these women due to my own immigration experience as a child emigrating from Puerto Rico to Pennsylvania. Many of the identity issues they have struggled with I have also encountered in my own struggle. Consequently, an interest in immigrants and their identity issues began to grow in me.
It became apparent that flexibility was integral in making the Patagonia Mosaic work. We had to be willing to go beyond our assigned groups, to wait, and to explore. As a result, through the Patagonia Mosaic I have gained many memorable experiences. I will never forget the interviews, the boliches, the potros, the walks in Rada Tilly, YPF, and my host family, just to mention a few.
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