Parallel Cultural Borders- El Grito… in Spain!

In case you didn’t know, Mexican Independence Day was celebrated around the world last week- in September. That’s right, Cinco de Mayo is NOT Mexican Independence Day. C’mon, you should know that by now.

Anyways, celebrating such a glorious holiday in another country was definitely an experience I will never forget. (Interestingly enough, in the country that Mexico declared independence from.) I didn’t know exactly what to expect and didn’t think there would be that many people ready to celebrate with me but I remained hopeful.

Luckily, I had heard about a gathering by the Barcelona harbor where we would start off the festivities next to a Mexican Navy Boat from where we would continue the celebration at a nearby plaza with performances, live music and of course, food! This was perfect. I just couldn’t miss the chance to celebrate one of my favorite holidays- no matter how far away I was from home.

I set out, leaving enough time to make it to “El Grito” Headquarters and enough room in my stomach to fill it up with lots of tasty Mexican food. Like I said, I expected a small gathering but as I arrived at the Plaza, an enormous crowd of painted faces, large flags, Mexican noisemakers, and even a woman on green, white, and red stilts greeted me with so much pride and enthusiasm that I couldn’t help but let out a few gritos of my own. I knew I was in the right place.

As the pride swelled in the crowd while we began to sing the Mexican national anthem, I started to think about how lucky I was to be able to be standing among so many different faces- each with a different story. For me, I can stand in front of a Mexican flag and have just as much pride as I do when I stand in front of an American one. I’m bicultural and I consider myself happy to say so. Walking the border between the Latino culture and the American culture has shaped who I am and how I look at the world in so many ways. And now I get to see it from another angle…

A friend I made in one of my classes here shared an experience similar to my own. She moved to Barcelona from Ecuador when she was very young and considers herself just as Spanish as she does Latina. She has walked a different cultural border than I have but the parallels between the two have given me a lot to think about. I’m still sorting out my thoughts and am eager to learn more about how the experiences compare. It’s incredible how much you learn about yourself as you learn about other people and culture.

This is just one of the many examples of how being abroad has challenged my thinking. I thought I had a lot of things about myself figured out but hey, a little bit more reflection and investigation should prove rewarding. I’ll fill you in on what I find out.

In the meantime, take a look into the colonial city of Paraty, Brazil as the Harvard International Adventures continue. A bit of this chapter of my Harvard Summer Study Abroad experience can be found in the Video Below. Until next time!

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