Fellows' Blog Archives

Cultural Exploration: All Posts

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Identity
by | April 13, 2014

Throughout high school I searched for my identity through means of reading books, exercise, self-reflection, making friends based on common interests and goals, and questioning what I want out of my life. Fast forward to a few weeks ago when I was peeling and chopping yucca, a white starchy root vegetable that grows wild in Ecuador. When my friend’s host mom casually told me that I’m yucca because I’m as pale and white.
Being called white or yucca on a regular basis has caused me to question how I identify myself. As a young female in the United States I…

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Perspective
by | April 11, 2014

Nine months ago, on a cloudy August morning, I got on a plane bound for home. But this wasn’t just any home. It was my home thousands of miles away from my physical and psychological home that I would be calling my second home. Remember that chilly night I landed in Ecuador—completely confused with where my leap of faith took me, with no foresight of where I would be living, who I would be living with, or what I would be doing from day to day? As I write the last chapter of this long and beautiful journey nine months…

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Why I Am Building a Community Garden: A Manifesto
by | April 11, 2014

The well diggers hit rock last Tuesday, and so, we did what all Pulaar Futas do when problems arise: we bought ourselves a plump hen, and sacrificed it to Allah (Pulaar: sadaka. Translation: a sacrifice to gain God’s blessing and general excuse to get together and eat chicken). God-willing, impenetrable rock will yield to water, the sadaka hailed a success.
This sadaka reminded me of the last sadaka we performed, a sadaka followed by, only weeks later, a fatunde, a funeral. For my host mother and namesake, Hawa, too sick and malnourished to wait for an ambulence that never came.…

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Minga
by | April 11, 2014

My first experience with Minga came on the Day of the Dead, when I was forcibly ejected from my peaceful slumber at five in the morning, handed a pair of boots and a machete, and pushed out the door with no more direction than “Follow them, today is Minga.” I sleepily splashed through the Lupi River and stumbled into the jungle after a group of loud, laughing women who squelched up the muddy hillside, hacking through weeds and vines along the way. I had no idea where we were going, but I’d become accustomed to never being informed about anything,…

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Learn from you, learn from me
by | April 11, 2014

Ever since I’ve arrived in Joinville, I’ve been mentally struggling with the extent of religion within my host community. I can’t speak for most of the United States, but in my community back home, religion is a very private matter. Mostly everyone keeps their religion to themselves, never blatantly flaunting it. The difference between San Jose and Joinville is that religion is a huge matter for the citizens here. Everyone is proud of what they believe in and they made sure that you know that.  It seems like everywhere I go or anyone I meet, the topic of religion always…

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Mosque in Touba

Being
by | April 11, 2014

This, the second of three blog posts about the author’s trip to Touba, details the events of a typical day in Touba during the Grand Magal and recounts a venture into the interior of Touba.
I have been in the Senegalese holy city of Touba for five days and am no clearer as to the actual nature of Magal than I was on my first day in Touba. Most Senegalese social events I’ve attended have been frustratingly similar from an outsider’s viewpoint. The same social groups are engaged in largely the same activities – the older men seated in various…

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A picture is only worth a thousand words.
by | April 11, 2014

“How’s Brazil! OMG, it looks amazing! “and “Looks like you are having loads of fun over there from your pictures!!”Are the usually comments I get on my facebook every time that I post a new picture. It may seem like life in Brazil only includes blue skies and beautiful beaches, but in reality it is so much more. Facebook is an awesome tool to share with my friends and family the places that I’ve visited to update on my trip, but the emotions behind the picture are left unspoken. For the past few months here, I have faced..
-       Numerous…

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