My name is Galina and I’ll be taking over as the resident assistant intern from mid-June until late August. Although I’ve been in Cuernavaca for almost a year, I thought I should introduce myself and share a few things about me.
I spent most of my childhood and young adult life in Omaha, Nebraska, where my parents and brothers still live. It has never felt like home, but I love visiting my family. I’ve never been one to plant firm roots where I live… I consider home to be a good community of friends and family, not specific geographical coordinates. Ever since I was a child I’ve been a restless being. I tried (and usually failed) at almost every sport. In middle school I tried out a different color of eyeliner every day. In high school I jumped around from different social groups every semester. Then came college, where my first 2 years were more about discovering what I didn’t want to do with my life. After graduating from high school in Omaha, I moved to New York City to attend art school. My time in New York was short lived, but involved a lot of personal growth. I quickly realized that art was better as a hobby rather than a career, and after living on Trader Joe’s pasta for 9 months I decided it would be a financially wise decision to move back to the Midwest. Since I was very against moving back to Omaha, I thought the Twin Cities met my ideal of being in an urban setting but still within driving distance to Nebraska. Augsburg was the only college I applied to and luckily I was accepted!
My first semester at Augsburg was slow moving. I didn’t know anyone in town and lived off campus, so I found it difficult to put myself out there and meet people. To solve this issue, I signed myself up for a travel seminar with Augsburg´s Center for Global Education to hike different mountains in Mexico. After 11 days, 3 different mountains, and wonderful people, I decided to change my major and entire academic path even before boarding the return flight to Minneapolis. I am now a Cross-Cultural Studies major at Augsburg, which is an amazing major because it actually requires you to study abroad for at least one semester or do two short travel seminars. Within a couple months I signed myself up for a semester program with CGE Mexico.
Well one semester turned into a full academic year in Mexico… and here I am! Still here in Cuernavaca for the summer. My time in Mexico has by far been one of the most impactful periods of my life. I’ve grown into a strong woman with a voice that can’t be silenced. In Mexico, injustice comes in many forms. Mexicans face daily setbacks to the point where you would expect them to simply give up. And yet, here in Mexico I have never experienced so much hope, passion, and resourcefulness. Mexicans are relentless fighters against the systematic oppression that has occurred in this country since the Spanish conquest. CGE offers experiential learning, which fits my learning style perfectly. Rather than sitting in a classroom all day I´ve met with speakers on LGBTAIQ issues, peace activism, women’s rights, religious rebels who are changing the church, environmental activism and more. I’ve participated in the circles of indigenous ceremonies and I’ve had a seat at conference tables among U.S. government officials of the U.S. Embassy of Mexico. I´ve climbed to a peak of one of Mexico´s tallest mountains, and I’ve dug my toes into the sand of the Pacific Ocean. I can easily say that my year in Mexico has been the best year of my life.
After 9 months of being a student with CGE, I’m proud and honored to take on the position as International Resident Assistant. Without the wonderful professors and staff of CGE, I wouldn’t be the woman I am today. It’s a wonderful feeling to become a part of a team that has been my friends and family for the past year, who provided me with the education and resources that changed my life. To the students coming this summer, I look forward to meeting you! And to those who are contemplating a travel seminar, summer session, semester, OR academic year here in Cuernavaca… come! It was the best decision of my life.