By Elizabeth Garlinger
As a child, summer always involved a multitude of activities, from long bike rides to the local ice cream shop to spending the day exploring the shores of South Bass Island. However, one staple of every summer (specifically the summer of a teacher’s daughter) was daily reading logs. Admittedly, my adoration of books was not innate and, I did not quite value the supplemental work in the same regard as my mother. However, as time went on, my disposition changed. I must credit this early childhood metamorphosis into the bookworm that I am today to The Magic Tree House series. As I continued through the series, I became fixated on the concept of being able to transport and immerse oneself into a completely different culture and setting. It brought about questions that would continue to riddle my thoughts far beyond the time I spent reading, such as, “What if I had been a part of the sibling duo?” or “How would experiencing (insert any of The Magic Tree House book numbers) change me or my perception of the world?”
Fast-forward to Summer 2016: I am entering my senior year of my undergraduate program in Communication Studies, and I am given the opportunity to have my own Magic Tree House adventure, with an airplane being my tree house and my ticket, passport, and the careful planning of the College of Communication and Information being my book to outline the story of my journey. Although our tree house will not be transporting us back in time (apparently magic tree houses and DeLoreans are hard to come by), I am eagerly awaiting the opportunity to experience Chengdu. Do not be misled; I do believe that the past provides insightful narratives of humanity’s foundation. However, I believe that the present moment is paramount, as it is the culmination point of past events, actions and ideologies from which humanity continues to grow and shape our world.
Because of this, I am both excited to be studying at Sichuan University and to be immersed in the Sichuan Province. On the side of academics, I am particularly interested in taking history classes that are taught from a non-Western perspective, as well as learning how other cultures measure communicative acts. Outside of the lecture halls, I am interested in witnessing how the community of Sichuan manages to balance both remembrance and growth, whether in the streets of the Jinli Historical District, the halls of the New Century Global Center, the acts which protect and honor the adorable residents of The Giant Panda Reserve or the preservation of both historical markers and the pristineness of Mount Qingcheng. Finally, I am thrilled to be sharing this experience with my fellow students and professor from Kent State. Words cannot describe how grateful I am to collectively reflect, interact and grow personally, academically and professionally in ways that we would not expect prior to departure.
Overall, excitement, gratitude and elation saturate all cognizant thoughts surrounding the upcoming journey: excitement to expand personal connections with traveling companions, gratitude to the College of Communication and Information for providing a priceless international encounter and elation for the opportunity to interact as a global citizen, to experience a culture outside of my own and to learn from this quest.