A place called Home
During this trip I have my share of homesickness, wishing for the comfort of a dinning hall so I do not have to go out and use my money to pay for lunch, or missing the gossip and giggles between my college friends while watching the latest episode of How to Get Away With Murder, however I have made a solid group of friends here that has finally made me feel at home. I have many friends that I have made ifsa study abroad, however along the way I’ve met many others from other study abroad programs, and have linked up a solid group of girls who makes me feel at home. This group makes me feel so at home in a country so distant because we share a similar experience here in Buenos Aires, we are all Black American girls. We are all different and unique and come from different states with different past experiences and likes, which makes our times together all the more exciting. Of course we draw lots of attention, almost causing car accidents by the local Argentine drivers who break their necks to see 4,5 or even 6 or 7 black girls at one time. We can discuss our feelings of anger, disgust, joy, and thrill of being Black in a city where many believe blacks, or at least local afro-porteños do not exist, but they do! (and I will get to that later).
And not only do I feel home with just the American friends I’ve made here, but I have finally also been able to meet some Argentine friends, and Columbian friends. I may struggle through conversations with them, but they are very forgiving and teach me along the way. Hanging out with them has helped me practice my spanish and castellano, whereas when I am among other friends from the states, we tend to speak english. And I am overjoyed that for the rest of my time here and even when I return to the states, I will have spanish speaking pen-pals to help me continue to practice. And maybe even a friend to stay with if I ever happen to return.
Just this past September, I celebrated my 21st birthday in Argentina, in the lovely Iguazu! On the day of my birthday a few friends and I went down a lesser known trail in the park that led to a watering hole in which we could swim, with a much smaller, but still magnificent waterfall. I enjoyed the day, although at one point I did very much miss spending my birthday with my friends back home, and did feel a bit low, most likely due to the extremely hot and muggy, bug ridden hostel we stayed in (thank goodness for the great pool) and the fact that my phone broke and I was not able to go online to check for Facebook and Instagram birthday shootouts.
Once I returned from my trip I realized I really needed to get going with my research paper for my concentration. I decided to take initiative and start looking up places and events to assist my research on slavery in Argentina and the impact of “negros” in Argentine culture. I stumbled upon one event about afro-latino americano studies, with professors who shared their research on various subjects such as Arfo-latino poets in the 19th century. And I also attended a presentation on the photography of afro-porteños by Nicolás Parodi, which documented the photos of documentation and ID’s of Black locals from the past, pics of family gatherings in the 60’s and 70’s and current photos of afro-porteños such as that of reggae musician Fidel Nadal.
At this presentation I met another study abroad student who let me know of the location of the African Cultural Center, right here in Buenos Aires, in San Telmo. I went this past sunday with some friends and sat in on a rap and reggae performance, and intend to go back in hopes of finding some more information for my paper, and maybe even someone to interview.
I have realized that for me, feeling at home means being able to talk about, and explore matters of my identity. Being a Black woman is something that I have always had to be aware of growing up in the US with the history that it has regarding women and black people. And everywhere I go this identity sticks with me, it molds me. Others define me by it, and I define my life alongside it. Having found places where I can go and see others with shared aspects of my identity or be able to discuss the experiences I face because of my identity help me feel more comfortable and more at home. Home is not really a stangant, solitary place; but rather the experiences that make you feel like the best you, and this does not necessarily mean places of experiences where you feel the most easy and comfortable, but the places and experiences that challenges you, mold you and push you forward.
Nos vemos! Until next time