Saturday, May 31, 2014

Ideas about Identities

Invariably, one of the most rewarding and challenging elements of traveling is interacting with those around you. Sometimes they are locals, sometimes they are just passing through, sometimes they are lost souls, sometimes they're a version of you. Regardless, they offer a different perspective-- and there is always a lesson.

In one of my most recent interactions in Guatemala, I had the chance to talk to a Bolivian man, living in Guatemala, who attended university in Germany. Certainly, we had some similarities in our relatively cosmopolitan lives.... I also am living in Guatemala, but have been schooled in Hong Kong, and am, by nationality, American. But it was at this point, when he asked how I identify myself, that I realized just how malleable identity might be. he urged me to answer if I believed the future of America will be to align itself with Latin America, or if we might continue to align ourselves with Europe. I tried my best to explain that the concept of America is beyond that of who we align ourselves with; America is made up of different people, with different ethnicities, and different goals for the future. And that is what makes an American-- that is our identity.

Unbeknownst to him, this complete stranger elucidated one of the most magical elements of this experience. Here we are, ten women from across the U.S., with different backgrounds, with different ideas, with different homes, with different identities. And yet, we have come together on the premise of ideals. That our identities are so varied doesn't change the commonality that is most relevant during our time here-- a commitment to cooperation and a commitment to service. And so long as we continue to identify ourselves like this, the rest really doesn't matter.

- Alli, MPIG Summer Intern Supervisor

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