I am brown.
I am womxn
And I will spend the next 4.5 months abroad.
For years I have been dreaming about and planning my study abroad experience. For months I have raised funds to make studying abroad in Ecuador possible. For weeks I have been getting together all I need to pack. During this time spent planning, budgeting and coordinating, I haven’t allowed myself many moments to think that in a few short weeks this experience will become a reality.
As I spend time reflecting, I realize what a privileged position I am in to have this experience. I am a college student and the youngest of six siblings. My parents are immigrants, and with their first five children, they had to learn to navigate the opportunities and obstacles presented to them in this country. They faced challenges I never had to and offered me unconditional support to get to college and take advantage of the experiences I could only have as a college student, such as living in another country for a semester.
My sister, Linda, was my mother’s fourth child and the first in our family to go to a four-year university. She and my other siblings paved the way for me to be in the position I am in. If my eldest brother had gone to a four-year college and been offered the opportunity to study abroad, I doubt my mother would have allowed him the opportunity. She would have been afraid for him and unwilling to have him go so far away. Over the years, my siblings have taught my parents about the importance of such experiences and to fear a little less for us. Still, I will be the first in the family to spend so much time away from home.
In the midst of these feelings of apprehension, I find myself wondering what my experience will be like. I am a Brown womxn traveling to and studying in a country that is not my own. The focus of the Ceiba Tropical Conservation Semester program is getting students to think critically about conservation by leading courses out in the different biomes found in Ecuador. As a brown womxn, I am underrepresented in the field of conservation. As a brown womxn, I will be in the minority within the group I will be traveling with, but in the majority within Ecuador.
I juggle feelings of wanderlust with worries of traveling alone as a womxn in South America, wanting to experience and learn as much as I can while feeling nervous about my personal safety.
More than anything, I am ready to have this experience and meet folks who have a different understanding of the world than I do. I look forward to laid back conversations, serious discussions, and gaining knowledge through folks’ stories. I look forward to sharing my story and creating connections and relationships.