In these two pieces, I wanted to capture the metamorphosis of self that was prompted by my study abroad trip.
In August of 2019 I went to Ghana, and it truly changed my life. The focus of my trip was centered on global service learning and the politics of help. I had the opportunity to work with a local organization that fought against child trafficking. They had an after-school program that would help children with reading and also provide a safe space for them to interact. This trip afforded me the ability to work hands on with the community, and I learned so much more about issues of social justice. The value of that experience was immeasurable, but I also had an experience that was quite different and a bit more personal.
On our trip we had 12 people, and they were all either female or non-binary. They were all so different in their own ways and up until that point, I had truly never been in a space where I felt so comfortable and safe: safe to be myself authentically. I made some lifelong friends, but what I took home was even greater. I found my voice.
Before I left, I was in such a rut. I was in a relationship where I couldn’t be me, and I was so scared of advocating for myself because I didn’t have the self-love that I should have. When I came back I wasn’t a different person, I was just finally me. Having that experience and being in that safe space gave me the strength to make some major and difficult changes in my life. Two of the greatest changes were ending my relationship of four years and also coming out. I finally embraced my queer identity and I even came out to my parents and friends.
The first picture represents the darkness that shrouded me before I came into my own and the light that was calling to me. I actually made that sketch of myself during some downtime on my study abroad. It illustrates the state of mind that I was in at the time, so I decided it was important to incorporate it into my art for this project.
The second picture represents me now. I have embraced my queer self, I have learned to speak up for myself and I have learned that I do deserve happiness. The dark window is still there as a reminder of where I have brought myself out of and also my hair is now pink, which is something I always wanted to do. 🙂
What I ultimately wanted to convey with this entry and art pieces is that while learning about social justice issues is absolutely important, sometimes what we take away from study abroad may be a bit more personal, and that is still totally valid.