My Final Dispatch

Dear Sara,

            I would like to start by telling you that I really enjoyed writing to you this semester, it was a big pleasure and I am really happy that we communicated in a smooth and friendly way, and I think that I can comfortably call you a friend now. Then I would like to thank you for your great dispatches I found this a great opportunity to get to know someone from the US directly, and it is the best way to learn about the American people. At the beginning all I knew was what I heard from TV, people, and what I read over the internet, but after this experience, I feel like I got to know the real deal, I learned everything directly from the source, and I would love to know even more.

            As for what you said about “othering,” I think that everyone is disposed to it. However, I believe that your type – being a writer – is more likely to “other.” I am not going to talk about it from the point that you are a poet, rather from the point that you are a journalist, because poets from my view do not need to say the truth, they are artists, and art does not require truth to be appreciated. Journalism however – even though it’s not always the case – is based on truth and is the means to show it. Sadly, nowadays journalism and social media are the only ways through which we find out about events that happen around the world and through which we learn about other cultures on our planet. I said sadly because, as you said, journalists are susceptible to “othering”, and this implies some truth to be hidden, it might be an insignificant truth, or it might be something dramatically important. The saddest thing about it is that people who are seeing this truth don’t know about its omitted part; they are missing the other side of the story, which may be radically significant to the understanding of a certain event, but more importantly in some cases, they are left ignorant of the truth behind someone who is part of that story, therefore this person may be judged according to the obvious and not the actual. But there is a worse case, where the reporter alters the original truth instead of just hiding it or forgetting to state it. This is more dangerous than the first case because the spectator will have misconceptions about the other, not only missing knowledge, leading to things like stereotypes.

            Unfortunately, in our time we find both cases that lead to not knowing the “other,” either through classical media (radios, televisions…) or through social media (Facebook, twitter…) ,the information that is being submitted is rarely accurate and therefore puts us in a state of ignorance when it comes to people from foreign places. Personally, the only way I learned about people from other countries before was through media, specifically TV shows and Facebook. Last summer, a group of ten French teenagers came to the village where I live for a summer camp. We greeted them normally at first like anyone coming to visit the village, then day after day we got to know them better and better, we learned about their culture, their beliefs, what they do for fun etc… the reason I’m telling this story is that the exact summer before this one, I used to say that I hate France and the French people, I even refused an opportunity to go study there. This idea I had of the French people came from television and the internet, and how wrong was it! After I met this group of people I understood how misleading information can be, and they used to say the same to us, they admitted that we are not how we are shown on televisions in France.  As for our case, dear Sara, I must say that this experience has been significantly enlightening for me. I understand that knowing one person is not enough to understand the whole American people, but at least it drives away some stereotypes that might have been present before having those conversations with you.

            This opportunity has been very unique for me, I have learned so much about you and I enjoyed it. I was really delighted in reading your dispatches; you are a very good writer, while reading what you used to write I felt like I didn’t want to stop, because it was interesting and very well structured, exactly what I would expect from a person who has passion for writing as you told me in our first dispatches. And I think that the topics we were discussing added to the interest I had. Long before I took this course I was interested in the topics related to the environment, as I had some interest in terrorism. But what we did was a whole new level, combining both subjects into one exciting theme encouraged me to dig deeper into the topics and discover activism like I never did before.

            I have so much more to say about this great experience I had this semester, but I don’t want to make my dispatch too long. To sum up, I found that exchanging dispatches with an American was a far better way to learn about the culture than checking what’s available on media. I hope that this experience helped you understand more what kind of people is available in this part of the world. It has really been a pleasure Sara, and I hope that we stay in touch even after this last “official” dispatch.

With loads of respect,

Rodrique.

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