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Global Education

There’s no place like home?

By Laura Haime
Published: September 2010

Dorothy says that if you click your heels three times and declare “there’s no place like home, you can just close your eyes and wait for a mysterious force to take you where you belong.
I wouldn’t be surprised if, after clicking my heels and uttering the five defining words, I found myself on an airplane hanging mid-air above the Gulf of Mexico between the two places that share my past, present, and future: Colombia and the United States of America. Life on an airplane, however, would require lots of Dramamine, and I’d certainly hate to live most of my life asleep or in turbulence; I have to choose a destination. But where?
In the last 10 years, I have twirled in a hurricane of identity as I explore two different cultures that tear me in opposite directions. Unfortunately, I have now encountered the wicked bitc’€I mean’€witch. Let’s call her College Process.
After hovering above ground in my own Land of Oz, I have to make a decision: Do I want to live in a country whose motto is goza la vida (enjoy life), or will I stay in the land of opportunities?
Oy, why can’t I just throw water on this witch and call it a day? But since that’s not a possibility, let’s explore the more realistic options a little closer.
When my feet first touch the Andes Mountains every June, I take a deep breath and inhale the aroma of my childhood.
I smell the Shabbat dinners spent with my extended family. I smell the eucalyptus from my farm where I learned how to ride a horse and make guacamole. I smell the freshly cut flowers sold by impoverished yet content families on the street.
Colombia reminds me of the importance of family, the beauty of relaxation, and the satisfaction of happiness. As I walk in the streets of Bogota I feel the warmth that radiates from every passerby on the street, the sense that ‘Ëœwe are all in this together’. In the United States, I’m lucky if I get a “Good morning.
People here have gotten lost in their own agendas and stress out at the thought of- well, actually- anything.
The anxiety that people carry on their shoulders leaves them with more knots in their backs than on their shoes.
Fear of failure coils itself around you like a snake, and over time it tightens its hold on you until you feel its fangs over your neck, waiting for just one wrong move. That’s why you have to do every possible extra curricular, take as many AP classes as possible, and get into the best colleges the country can provide. Nevertheless, as terrible as I’m making this lifestyle sound, what you gain from the process and its success really is well worth it.
If I study in the United States, my education will be better and the diploma will introduce me to a world of opportunities. That fancy piece of paper looks better than any Golden Ticket as I consider the jobs I hope to have some day, and the career I dream of following.
But if I want to live in Colombia, the connections I make in college there are essential to my career in that country.
Thus, I realize that wherever I go to college is probably the country where I will end up living in.
Regrettably, there is no wizard in this Land of Oz and the only person who can decide the outcome is me. It will be a long and difficult journey down the yellow brick road, but I know it’ll be worth it.
Whether I end up exploring the mountains of Colombia or discovering the landscapes of the United States, I know I’ll end up where I belong- just as Dorothy assures me.
But I really can’t wait to see the other side of this rainbow.

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