Planes are interesting, because they often give you the opportunity to sit by a complete stranger that you will most likely never see again. Some people use this as a chance to become friends, like the two people behind me on the 10-hour flight from Buenos Aires to Huston, who talked loudly through the first 3 hours or so. I didn’t speak to the woman next to me very much at all, and we both fell asleep after the flight attendants had finished giving out dinner and drinks.
At this point, I had been travelling for the entire day, and I was ready to get home. But, hearing these strangers discuss things about Argentina, and their experiences, made me realize how similar we really are. I was listening to them talk about how they had eaten delicious pizza and stayed in hostels and had been amazed at the sprawling humanity of Buenos Aires, just as I had.
After I got off the plane in Huston, relieved that I would once again have all of my usual comforts, I began to realize that since I was back in my comfort zone, back where everything made perfect sense to me, many of the people I recognized from the plane were now in a strange land. It made me realize how similar we really all are. The woman I sat by on the plane spoke mainly Spanish, and was a native Argentinian. In the crowded security line at the airport, she was completely out of her depth. Many people were in danger of missing their connecting flights, and the TSA agents were unflinchingly rigid, insisting that there was nothing they could do. I ended up speaking to several people who had been on my flight in Spanish, because they recognized someone who may potentially be able to help them navigate their way.
That part of the trip really struck me. For once, I naturally switched into Spanish, speaking with people I didn’t know, with no encouragement from anyone else. And the people were the same as people I would’ve spoken English too. Maybe it’s something I should have known all along, but I think without going and living with another culture, without actually travelling to where you are in the minority, you cannot recognize what we do to other cultures here. And you cannot recognize how similar we all are.
It’s always interesting to look at other people’s high school yearbooks, because sometimes you look through pictures and swear that someone you’ve never seen before looks exactly like this other person you know, and maybe it’s their facial expression or just some look in their eyes. So, that was the biggest thing that I took away from Argentina. This thought, this idea, that we are all truly similar. No matter where we grew up, or what language we speak. As humans, we are greater than any individual, we are alike in more ways than we could possibly ever be different.
And, Argentina is beautiful.
I am extremely grateful to everyone who made this trip possible, and I cannot wait to go abroad again, and continue to study Spanish and education! Anne