My clumsy fingers fumbled over the Braille cells as I simultaneously attempted to translate my teacher’s instructions, given in Spanish. My eyes squinted in discomfort and effort behind the blindfold that covered my eyes. The blindfold represented the only barrier that existed as I crossed every cultural barrier that had ever defined my life. Moments like this characterized my six months as a foreigner living, studying, and working in Chile and Peru. During my time, I learned to be comfortable with the uncomfortable as I developed a sense of adaptability. This adaptability became my most valuable asset as I constantly confronted and transcended language and cultural barriers during my six-month pilgrimage in South America. My ability to acculturate enabled me to communicate with the young girls at the orphanage where I served in Chile. It also moved me to compassion for the disabled individuals with whom I connected during my involvement in a ministry center to the differently enabled in Chile. And it cultivated within me a deep love for the children at the orphanage in Peru with whom I worked for the summer, in the months following my semester abroad in Chile.
Ariana, Spring 2011