Cultural Connections

Monkey in the Amazon 2011
    “I saw the world. I learnt of new cultures. I flew across an ocean. I wore women's clothing. Made a friend. Fell in love. Who cares if I lost a wager?” bursts Phileas Fogg, the main character in Jules Verne’s Around the World in Eighty Days. I agree with Mr. Fogg. Even if I have never exactly trekked around the world in 80 days, an abundance of Amazon trips, Latin lessons, and British entertainment provide me ample connections to the world.
Amazon Hut 2013
     First, my two journeys along the Amazon River in Brazil exposed me to the villager culture. Because the villagers are housed in one-room huts like the American pioneers of old, their main foods consist of beans and rice and a few locally-grown fruits and vegetables. Last August, the miniscule communities of 20-60 families showed extreme thankfulness for the undersized bags of belongings we gifted them. Inside the bags awaited belongings we take for granted such as shampoo, bar soap, t-shirts, flip-flops, towels, washcloths, and spoons; this revealed to me the many blessings I enjoy at home. After flying home, the Brazilian people continue to pervade my prayer life, thoughts, and dreams for the future. I ardently love exploring Brazilian village culture and making friends on my Amazon River trips.

     Next, my three years of Latin lessons have ranked high in my studies of the world since Latin operates in biology, medicine, Catholicism, and U.S. state mottos. Myriads of tongues are based on Latin, rendering it the perfect first foreign language to acquire. Yaggy’s Latin curriculum boasts,

It has been proven time and time again that taking at least two years of Latin will increase verbal SAT scores on average by 100 points. This is even over students who take other foreign languages. Latin students do this year after year because they are constantly learning how to think analytically and critically.  The curriculum emphasizes learning the Latin words and prefixes, which show up today in over 60 percent of the English we speak daily!

Latin has thoroughly exposed me to the era of the Roman Empire and the beginnings of other languages. Connecting me to many cultures in a way no other language can, it stands the test of time; no uncultured layman should dare to call it a dead language!
     Finally, British entertainment connects me to the fascinating sights, sounds, and experiences of Europe. Cleverly, my favorite author, Jane Austen, has endeared me to herself with beautiful, bold, brave British characters from the 1800s. In Pride and Prejudice, Emma, and Sense and Sensibility, the characters prove deeply moving and the stories as powerful as a king’s command. Julian Fellowes’ Downton Abbey, an award-winning television show, divulges the dramatic changes of social life in and around a rich estate in England in the early 1900s. According to the San Francisco Chronicle’s David Wiegand, “Fellowes does know how to write some tasty dialogue, especially for Maggie Smith....The other performances are equally winning, but beyond that, you can't help feeling these actors are having a jolly good time with all this overblown fluff. And so will you.” Yes, I stand fascinated and obsessed with British accents. England remains such an addicting and dreamy culture!

     Undoubtedly, my connections to the world through Brazilian travels, Latin translation, and
British entertainment zestfully fill my day-to-day life with tastes of other countries and cultures. Jubilantly, I can now proclaim with Phileas Fogg, “I saw the world. I learnt of new cultures. I flew across an ocean.” Exhilarating and enlightening, my cultural connections continue to captivate my heart and mind.

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