Yes, Study Abroad Does Involve Learning
My classes are as follows:
Pacific 110: Pacific Music and Dance (We got to learn a Samoan dance and are learning hula kahiko right now! It’s awesome!
Maori 103: Introduction to Spoken Maori
Maori 190: Kapa Haka
Maori 230: Te Kete Aronui (A material arts class. We pick an artifact and work all semester to recreate it!)
When people ask me why I chose to come to New Zealand, my reply is to learn and experience Maori and Pacific Islander culture, as is reflected in my classes ^. My pursuit of knowledge has taken a different route while here. Yes, as an anthro concentrator there is overlap with the topics I’m learning about but that wasn’t my intention when I decided to take these classes. In reality, I’m not approaching these classes from an anthropological perspective, dissecting the reasoning for certain actions for the hula or haka, etc., but out of a want to learn and experience the growth that comes with the knowledge being passed along. Many of my fellow exchange students that are in these classes don’t recognize the opportunity they are being given and the importance of the information being taught. We are learning things that are held very close to Maori and Pacific Islanders, some things that are considered sacred, and it is being passed along by individuals that are highly respected in their perspective communities. Not many people can say that they’ve had this opportunity. These ideas are easily forgotten, especially by American exchange students who aren’t as capable of understanding/recognizing this. Knowledge is so readily commoditized in today’s society that you easily forget and lose sight of the mana (power, prestige) behind it. My plea to those reading this is to reflect on the opportunity you are being given within academia and the power behind knowledge. Don’t moan and mumble when you’re getting a bit tired from practising your hula steps, you’re lucky that you are even getting to learn it in the first place.
On another note, this semester is completely different from any others I’ve had class wise. Every class I’m taking is practical; I have never gotten so sweaty or dirty in class before. And my mind has never had to remember so many songs and choreography. I am constantly hopping around from singing and dancing in Hawaiian to speaking Maori, my brain is slowly starting to get a bit overloaded. On the flip side, none of my classes have readings which is great and I have learned so much. The knowledge being passed along is something that you couldn’t read in a book. Although I do miss my Mayan archaeology, I am going to hold what I’m learning close to my heart for the rest of my life which makes it that much sadder that we’re over half way finished with the semester…