Tales From Abroad: JAM Summer 2015 Jan13

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Tales From Abroad: JAM Summer 2015

The JAM experience was unlike anything that I have ever experienced in my whole life. It was hard to truly call this experience completely integrated because we were only in each destination for two weeks, but it was the best attempt at integration in such a short amount of time. During these six weeks, we were introduced to three different cultures and religions. While exploring these contexts, I came in with an open mind and through this I was able to see the truth, goodness and beauty in each of these narratives.

image1 The truth in the words of the children at Oasis and Dr. Azumah when he spoke on the five faces of Islam. Goodness in the hearts of the couple from House 244 and in the mind of Fred.  Beauty in the mountains by Poblet and the canopy walk we did in the rainforest. There were of course negatives aspects to each of these points of view that I did not line up with just like every point of view. This trip was the final experience that solidifies my beliefs and approaches to life. I am proud of the way that I currently view the world, and I look forward to continuing the adventure.  Justice was the number one theme that I saw in every place that we visited. In England, there was no shortage of NGO’s doing incredible things. From Oxfam to VIVA, there were all sorts of organizations trying to make an impact in the world. I especially appreciated the Oasis school who mostly works on preventing future problems for kids. I especially appreciated that they did not just work on the child, but also, they worked on the family system that the child lived in. I was glad to have seen programs much like CitySquare at work in England and would even be open minded to come back and work for one them. 

In Spain and Ghana, the justice I saw much different because it was not just parts of the population within the country trying to find help. In Spain, the section of the country we were in was looking for independence because they are Catalonians who were oppressed by the Spanish monarchy. They hung their glad of independence over. If they are ever called Spaniards, they are automatically offended because they do not want to be called the people who severally mistreated them. In Ghana, the same feeling of is present. This country was abused and conquered for so many years. The leftovers of those who took over for some time period is present and obvious if you know what to look for. 

What I saw in Spain and Ghana was two countries trying to pick themselves up off the  floor. Spain is many decades ahead, but the country is still trying to heal their wounds which is probably extremely hard to heal when all of the evidence from the dictatorship is still shown and toured by outsiders. The Catalonians want nothing more than to be differentiated from their Spanish rulers. There is high doubt that they will find the independence that they are seeking, but it is nice to know that they are fighting for what they believe in. The fight them pride that nothing else ever will. Sometimes, it is not even about winning the fight, but instead, it is about being heard.

This experience has shown me that the way that I choose to live my life is far closer to the norm that what I thought. For the last two years,  I have been going to ACU, and I got lost in this world. Now, I am informed of the Christian, Catholic, and Islamic perspectives while still holding a very unique, secular metanarrative of my own. I have also been to the poorest of places to the richest and have had figure out what way I am going to interact and react to each of these contexts.

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With all of this embedded in my metanarrative, it will be easier for me to relate to many types of people. Having these skills will enable me to better work with people to solve problems within communities or even educate them in various subjects. It was also help me be even more open minded to other cultures that I still have not learned about. I will be more adaptable as well with all of that necessary adaptability that I had to turn on while in Ghana. I may not be completely sure that I am going to do for the rest of my life, but I do know one thing, I will be helping people. My work may not be out of the country, because from this experience I have learned that I do need to have breaks and refreshers where I am around people who are like me, but it will be important. 

The Justice Along the Meridian trip will play in the back of my mind for the rest of my life. I won’t know everything it has changed about me for years to come, but I am excited to find out. In my future travels, I will keep all of this in mind and aim to create an experience that is as wholesome as this one. I never want to go to a new place and have just a strictly shallow experience where I learn nothing. I now crave and strive to understand the people from there to fully understand their world. The ideal that I held before was that all human beings all equally important which has now been validated. I will hold this as one of my most important beliefs.