About

In Short

This blog contains ethnographical and narrative accounts of my four years living and teaching in Barranquilla, Colombia. It is my hope that I have illuminated at least one person’s attempt at the acculturation process.

Writing

A Discussion of Genre

My original intention was to classify the genre of this blog as an “autoethnography,” a combination of research, culture, and autobiography, but I didn’t want to be limited by the genre or run the risk of false classification. Instead, I use the term “cross-cultural memoirs,” a label that allows me to include components from multiple genres like journalism, ethnography, autobiography, and other literary genres like poetry, fiction and more. The label also allows me to accomplish many of the same goals I would have when writing autoethnography, but I don’t have to worry that I am focusing too much on narrative, or myself, and I can freely craft an art form that is entertaining, emotionally provocative and that illuminates small aspects of human nature.

If I had to narrow it down to a specific genre, I would say it is literary-autoethnography-that-isn’t-afraid-to-fall-deep-into-narrative-form-or-a-borderline-egotistical-discussion-of-self.

That said, categorizing a type of writing is often arbitrary. What matters most are the reasons for writing a particular piece and the work’s effect on the writer and his or her readers.

The first of my three goals I borrowed from Heewong Chang’s (2007) article “Autoethnography: Raising Cultural Consciousness of Self and Others,” which describe my intentions perfectly. I have also added a fourth goal which I created myself.

Check out Dr. Chang’s article to get a better understanding of autoethnography:

Heewon Chang (2007), Autoethnography: Raising Cultural Consciousness of Self and Others, in Geoffrey Walford (ed.) Methodological Developments in Ethnography (Studies in Educational Ethnography, Volume 12), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, pp.207-221

Goals for this blog

1. “Connect our individual past with our individual and collective present.”

2. “Understand culturally rooted reasons for our comfort with others of similarity, discomfort with others of difference, and aversion with others of opposition.”

3. “Expand this understanding into culturally unfamiliar territories (Chang 2007)”

4. Create a literary art form that is not only entertaining and provocative, but which also sheds light on the acculturation process and contemplates what it means to be human.

2 thoughts on “About

  1. Hello there! My name is Camilla. I read some of your later posts on your blog. I am currently in Barranquilla too and will be for 2 years. I was wondering how did you get to meet people? It has been really hard for me. Thank you.

    • Hi, Camilla,

      That is a great question. It’s not easy to meet people and find new social groups in a culture you’re not used to. Here are some suggestions:

      Find open-events around the city like concerts, museum exhibits, classes etc. The Alianza Francesa in Barranquilla often had some fun events (the concerts were a blast). http://www.alianzafrancesa.org.co/web/ciudad/barranquilla/inicio/principal

      The universities also have some great events. I lived by Universidad Bellas Artes de Atlantico. They offer some classes to the public and also have some great free events, exhibits, concerts, and theater performances. http://www.uniatlantico.edu.co/uatlantico/extension/cursos-libres-de-bellas-artes
      I also recommend searching for Barranquilla groups on Facebook, and then “like” them, so you receive news of special events in your newsfeed. Here’s one I like: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Barranquijazz-Festival/214752338550014.

      Also, keep an eye out around the city for flyers. A lot of events are not online, and word-of-mouth is very popular for spreading the news. There is no shortage of events in Barranquilla, but the tough part is meeting people, like you said. I met some locals on the buses, at bars and salsa clubs, jazz concerts and volunteering as an English teacher in the community. As an international teacher, I also worked with a great group of people, who, not only were super fun to hang out with, they also had connections as well.

      I would be happy to get you in touch with some friends I made while down there. If you are interested in teaching English on Saturdays, I could also put you in contact with the coordinator at Pies Descalzos. I met a lot of people there. Here is my Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kevin.matuseski?fref=ts. Feel free to add me. I just moved back to the U.S.A, but I would be happy to introduce you to people via social networking. What are you doing in Barranquilla? Where are you from?

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