Kristopher Klein '12
- Major: Latin American Studies and Spanish
- Study Abroad Program: IFSA-Butler Mendoza, Argentina
Why did you decide to study abroad? How did you choose your country and program?
Learning Portuguese and studying Argentine literature was essential to my major. I chose Mendoza, Argentina because 1) the university's literature department founded by Julio Cortazar was incredible and 2) my family's maiden name is Mendoza so I considered it a calling.
Tell us about your study abroad experience in and outside of the classroom.
I am a military brat so the majority of my primary and middle school experience was spent overseas in Panama and Germany. And so, studying abroad was a decision made from the start of my Bowdoin career. Learning, living, and being in different spaces bestows unique and sometimes life changing ideas into your life. I studied in Argentina and Brazil to learn about cultures which cannot be translated through textbooks, but only through the consumption of lived experiences. You are exposed to different teaching styles and learn about different histories and her-stories.
How did you connect your off-campus study with your Bowdoin academics and extracurriculars?
Much of the work I conducted in Latin America was used in my Mellon Mays Fellowship statements and some of the identity politics I observed were placed into my senior thesis. One of the strengths of my major is that the faculty understand that living and being exposed to pedagogical differences in language, history, art, and politics transforms Latin American Critical Theory or at least, discourse and therin impacts the student. Thus Bowdoin and Study Abroad provide different facets to the overall undergraduate experience.
What do you believe was the value of study abroad for you academically and personally?
People are amazing beings. You learn so many kinds of perspectives, especially when you study abroad. Communism, freedom of speech, sexuality and even food take on different ideas depending on their constructions. To understand Borges through the mentorship of a prominent Argentine literature professor exposed me to a certain authenticity and realism not learned anywhere else. To study abroad is to take "the keys of the college" and use them in the world over yonder.
Tell us about any other abroad experience you undertook while at Bowdoin and how it enriched your Bowdoin experience.
Besides study abroad, I was able to intern and continue work in Gulu, Uganda at a kindergarten 1-3 year school, first using Bowdoin's Preston Public Career Fund and later a Davis Project for Peace award to construct a classroom at the school I taught at.
Does international work or travel figure into any of your future plans?
Perhaps. I hope to continue studying borderlands, not just in practice but in ideology and thought, so most definitely Mexico and Canada to begin.