My experience took place in Barcelona, Spain. I created YouTube videos that were meant to inspire that travel is possible for minorities or those from income families. I didn’t really see anyone that looked like me on TV when I was growing up so I didn’t think that I should travel. The videos I made showcased an underrepresented population, and consisted of the places that I have traveled and the places I explored.
This experience meant a lot to me personally because I grew up thinking that I wouldn’t ever be able to afford to leave the country. I constantly thought that I was going to experience racism and not be welcomed into places I visited. However, I took a leap of faith when I applied to study abroad. When my application was accepted, I knew that going on this adventure was fate. These videos allow me to be the representation that I didn’t see growing up. I was able to impact others by showing that people are not their stereotypes. People have so many misconceptions about Latinos and think that all of the people from Latin America and Spain are the same. Each country is unique with a variety of accents, vocabulary, culture, food, slang, etc. These differences are not known because Americans are only taught one side of history. However, these stereotypes can be broken down if people are properly educated on the world around them.
The semester before I left for Spain, I took a Latino American studies class. Spain played a big part in the history of many Latin American countries due to colonization. I went into Spain with this knowledge and took more interest in seeing the history I learned about in the class up close. I saw the houses of the Jews before the Spanish Inquisition and learned more about the royal history of Spain. Knowledge from my academic classes piqued my interest to see history up close.
This trip has matured me as an individual, as an African American, and as a female. I went into this trip as an insecure girl that was scared her looks would cause her to be discriminated against, which is a fear that many minorities have when considering to travel. However, the Spanish culture is very welcoming, and the people are constantly fighting for equality in some way. Moreover, Spain does not have the same race construct that America has today so I didn’t have an issue with racial discrimination. My experience has allowed me to learn the way that Catalonians view those of a different skin color, which is as human beings. Lastly, I learned to stick up for myself and not to be pressured into things. All of these lessons have resulted in me gaining the self-confidence that I didn’t have coming into the trip. I do not want to be someone who is a pushover when I go into my new career. My favorite class in Barcelona was business ethics because I got to see the world from an ethical point of view. I am able to determine what I believe to be wrong or right; I feel as if I know how to handle situations in which something unethical is being done. I want to be an asset to my future place of work because I get my work done and I’m ethically responsible. This trip has changed my life and I hope to bring the new Charlena that Barcelona has molded me into to whichever career I will have in the future.