Being in Hong Kong during the current tension in Eastern Asia has made me realize a change I've undergone in this time abroad. These days, the context I relate myself to has broadened. My view of the world has grown to include more of the world instead of being centered around Linfield, McMinnville, Oregon, or US events.
I've realized that being in the US shelters us from feeling actively involved internationally. This realization happened as I reflected on the structure of our nightly news programs. Perhaps five to ten minutes are devoted to the world news while the remaining time focuses on US matters and finally concludes with stories that may come from our own neighborhoods. This structure promotes the strong feeling of community within our cities or states but widens the divide between our distinction of the local and global community. Previously, when hearing about foreign affairs, I did not register their impact on our country or my own life. Perhaps it is because I'm surrounded by people from those other countries that news reports on that I've come to understand the term 'global citizen.' While each country maintains their own agenda, the decisions that they make will ultimately affect another country in some way.
The primary reason why I began to reflect on the inter-connectedness of the world was economic. After the shots between North and South Korea occurred earlier this month, the exchange rate of several Asian currencies fell. After interrogating this and other current examples of economic inter-connectedness in other parts of the world with students of that field, I discovered my interest in exploring it. This could be the first time a real-world situation has motivated me to pursue the study of it in the classroom. I find myself lucky to have experienced that feeling. As for others, it is possible that studying abroad will provide you with greater opportunities to discover interest in something and subsequently the desire to learn more. However, this mindset shouldn't be contingent on a study abroad program. Rather, we students should aspire to interrogate our daily lives and hopefully learn more about our global community.