The Office of International and Advanced studies kicked off its Traveling Tap series on Wednesday, Sept. 18, at Oracle Brewing in Saginaw.
Traveling Tap was created to invite SVSU community members to speak about their experiences from a different country, often the speaker’s home country. This is Office of International and Advanced Studies’ second year hosting the series.
Jenna Briggs, the senior director of Advanced Studies and International Student Services, said the series helps students learn about other cultures.
“We thought this could be a really cool format to talk about different countries, cultures and any travel topic here in our local community,” she said. “This is also a way to engage with the community and be stewards of our community.”
The first Traveling Tap focused around South America. Jorge Parodi, an adjunct faculty in the department of political science, immigrated to the U.S. 10 years ago from Peru to join his wife in Michigan.
They had met when Parodi was a foreign exchange student in Michigan in 1985. They reconnected when he was in his thirties. His lecture focused on the misconceptions and challenges people face when moving to another country.
“We have misconceptions about both (the U.S. and Peru),” he said. “When you go to different countries you have preconceptions of what you will be faced with.”
Parodi recalled his experiences as a 15-year-old coming as a foreign exchange student to Michigan in 1985 and as an adult coming as an immigrant.
Parodi said there are distinguishing factors between coming as a tourist and as an immigrant.
“There’s two ways to see when you want to travel,” he said. “You can see yourself as an explorer, or you can see yourself as an immigrant. I had both experiences. I came here as an explorer and then later in my life I came as an immigrant.”
Parodi visited Ubly as a foreign exchange student, a small town compared to Lima.
He said the weather was one of the first differences he noticed between Peru and the U.S. Peru, according to Parodi, sees temperatures between 55 degrees and 85 degrees Fahrenheit.
“I got here, and it was 1985, winter,” he said. “There was a big storm.”
Parodi also discussed barriers to travel and immigration. Language, adjusting to the community and the climate were just a few areas he had to adjust in.
“I didn’t speak much English,” he said. “I went to a French school, so my second language is actually French. The first barrier I had to overcome was communicating with people. The other barrier is coming from a big city, like Lima, Peru and ending up in a small town in a rural area. That is something very drastic for a 15 year old. I never saw snow before coming here.”
He said he had a hard time dealing with the legal process of immigration, but also the mental process as well.
“When you immigrate you have different implications, legal implications,” Parodi said. “There is also psychological implications in terms of identity. Because if you go to New York, if you go to Miami, it’s different. It’s a very diverse society. If you come to a rural area, the first thing you notice is how they see you.”
To illustrate his point, Parodi said he was avoided by Walmart greeters when he relocated to the U.S.
Parodi closed the lecture with a question and answer session. He also talked with audience members about Peru, South America and the experience of immigration.