ISATTA FEIKA (BA ’18)
The first days in Seville felt like a fantasy. Being in a space where nearly everything was connected to a rooted history and being around people who walked their shoulders and sight high enough to hold their ancestry, was completely new to me. For the first few days, I wanted to learn how to walk like a Spaniard. I learned to love myself by many times being the only black or muslim/black and muslim person in a space. I learned to accept the questions and be thankful for them because it is better for people to ask if they are curious rather than for them to create their own answers. I learned to love myself by pushing my language comfort zone. It was easy to hold a casual conversation in Spanish but it was very difficult to answer right off the bat. The more I went out and picked up Spanish jargon, the easier it was for me to speak Spanish in all realms. I learned to love myself by fasting during Ramadan in a completely different country.
My director, Cheryl Walker, was able to connect me to the director of the Tres Culturas Fundacion, Antonio Barneto. Through his program, I was able to attend lectures and concerts that showed the different faces of Islam and speak with students that were equally trying to seek new experiences during the spiritual month. Lastly, I was able to love myself by trusting the path that was meant for me and being vulnerable to the fact that I do not know everything and I need to ask questions. That vulnerability allowed me to feel comfortable and gain trust from those around me in that I sincerely wanted to learn about their culture from their lenses as opposed to coming in and comparing it to what I know.
I am extremely grateful for my experience in Spain because as stated before, it taught me how to be comfortable with myself and my own path. For a very long time, I have been malleable with my boundaries and the goals that I have by allowing others to shape my destiny and breath fear into my ambitions. This trip forced me to acquire independence in the matter of the physical and mental steps that I take. If it was not for the Global Studies Scholarship, I would not have been able to take the first step which was booking the ticket. I am grateful to be a part of this department academically and to have the support of this very department in the changes I have made personally in order to reach my ambitions as I move closer to the end of my Carolina years.