Written by Te-Shauna Gray ’17
This blog post is written in response to Te-Shauna’s spring 2017 3-week trip to Chile with Professor John Bolus.
Have you wondered what it would be like if everyone in the city you lived in just helped? Like if everyone pushed their “oh I’m having a bad day” attitudes to the side and just became good Samaritans? Well it would be amazing! I’ve only been in Chile for about 10 days now and ever since I got off the plane at the airport I’ve always had someone, if not a group of people, willing to help. When we went to the plaza de armas I noticed a pregnant woman walking, and she was exhausted. A guy sitting on a bench quickly rose up from his seat and asked if she wanted to sit down and he gave her his seat. Back home I wouldn’t see acts of kindness like this. I would see guys look the other way while they allowed the woman to walk past. It didn’t matter if we were in Puerto Varas or La Serena, even while we stayed in Santiago which is the city! Everyone was nice! Back home in Cleveland I’m use to keeping to myself not asking directions and pretty much relying on google maps to help me figure out where to go if I got lost in an unfamiliar part of town. Here in Chile I can ask people for directions without them getting upset, and what makes it better is my Spanish is choppy and I don’t get weird looks from people when I mispronounce a word.
When we traveled to La Serena I met a young man and his family who sold little trinkets and he asked me if I was able to speak Spanish. I told him not so well, and he agreed that he couldn’t speak English well either so we laughed and agreed to have a conversation partially in English and partially in Spanish. I bring this up because I use to work in a tourist shop in Cleveland on East 4th Street, and I would see people come in all the time from various countries and not one person, including myself, would take the time to see if they were bilingual or at least try to help them find what they were looking for, unless they directly asked us in English.
Being in an unfamiliar place has opened my eyes to a whole new level and meaning of what culture shock is. Yes, I understand that it is what I have been subjected to being placed in a new surrounding and culture. At the same time, while I have been here, it has still reminded me of being home. Instead of being at Hiram College or in Cleveland, where people would rather leave you alone, these people help as much as possible. I guess in a way this experience has humbled me. It has opened my eyes to how far being generous with time and patience can take you. I’m extremely happy I was given the chance to go because I don’t think that I could have learned kindness like this at home.