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Ananda Bhatia, University of Kansas Part 3

22 Apr 2016

I am a Spanish conversation student at the University of Kansas, and I recently finished my third TalkAbroad conversation with Ximena Caro (such an awesome name) from Colombia. Although I loved all of my past partners, I have really enjoyed talking to someone new each time because it allows me to practice speaking with people with different accents and dialects and because I am able to learn more about several different cultures.

For this session, one of the topics we were assigned to discuss was the significance of Columbus Day in the United States versus a similar holiday in a Latin American country. Ximena and I shared the perspective that the arrival of Christopher Columbus in America was not really something to be celebrated, since so many people were harmed because of it. In Colombia, however, I learned that they celebrate a “Día de la Raza,” which is a celebration of all races. I think the fact that Columbia has an entire day dedicated to celebrating diversity speaks to what they value as a culture, and this made me think about how I wish diversity were celebrated more widely (including in the U.S.).

My favorite part of the conversation was when Ximena asked me what the point of St. Patrick’s Day was, since she knew it had just happened but never really knew why it was celebrated. Of course, I knew that all countries have different holidays, but it had never occurred to me before that I would have to explain something that felt so common to me. It was interesting to see what people in other countries knew about holidays in the United States. I was also surprised to realize I truly had no answer for her — I had never really thought about the significance of St. Patrick’s Day before. I think these kinds of conversations are only possible to have with someone coming from a completely different culture and perspective, which is part of what I love about TalkAbroad.