22 Jun Intentional Traveler Interview: Ailana
In this week’s Intentional Traveler interview, we’re hearing from Ailana Navarez. Her unique background has led her to pursue life abroad. Here’s what she shared with us:
Tell us about yourself
I am a Hawaiian-born, Latin America raised writer, photographer, artist and political analyst. I am currently pursuing a major in government – with a specialization in international relations – and a minor in psychology at Harvard Extension School.
I have lived and traveled throughout Central and South America for most of my life – from Panama to Uruguay. I have relocated to different countries to live, work, and study. My national and ethnic makeup includes Hawaiian, Scottish, Spanish/Basque, Chinese, Philipina, Japanese, Italian and Native American. I speak English, Rioplatenese Spanish, Brazilian Portuguese and Hawaiian Creole with varying degrees of fluency. While I currently reside in North Carolina, I also maintain residences in Panama and Uruguay.
My over-arching goals and values that drive my life choices are increasing awareness of international socio-economic and political realities, specifically on affairs that are little known to mass media and yet make a major impact. Researching, consulting and one day helping bridge understanding between different cultural groups is a major aspiration of mine, from the local level of teaching immigrants English as a second language on my time off, to studying at Harvard to one day work on a more global level.
What tips do you have for successfully relocating to a new country and culture?
I think the number one tip involves a mental transformation in order to help successfully complement the physical one. Quite simply, nonetheless fundamentally, this is to have an open mind. If we are entering a new international experience with expectations, expect only that they probably will be different than currently imaginable.
Better said, just because we enter a new country and culture does not mean that everyone will adjust to our desires or even needs, i.e.: that everyone will automatically speak perfect English (or speak English at all), or meet us on time, or even comprehend what we want and how we want it. Understanding that such examples are not deficiencies but differences which stipulate adjustment and growth on our part as well, can significantly help alleviate stress.
This all boils down to an even larger-picture essential. Move to a new country and culture to live in a new country and culture. If we want our own country’s ways, benefits, language and culture, we need to stay at home. This alleviates stress from ourselves and the others we meet abroad.
Your parents chose to move your family to Panama. How did that benefit you?
I was little when my family moved us from Hawaii to a tiny island off the Republic of Panama’s Pacific coast, just 20 minutes by plane from the Canal and capitol. My parents had just put aside not only a lucrative real estate and developement business, but a reality of first world problems and dramas to spend time with their childeren. This pure time was one that we cherished, even as my younger sister and I grew and my parents returned to their development and investments affairs “abroad.” Their choice taught me that while being non-conventional isn’t simple, it is pricelessly rewarding.
Moving abroad benefited me in probably more ways than I yet realize. One benefit is realizing that the world is truly our oyster if we are an oyster diver. That is, if we are willing to work for it and willing to take advantage of the many resulting benefits. I always think of Kristine K Steven’s quote that “If your dream doesn’t scare you, it isn’t big enough.” That’s how I think on an international level – do what’s comfortable or feasible for you, plus a little more. How else is adventure and progress achieved?
Are you a fellow Intentional Traveler? You don’t need to be a blogger. Share your story with us to be featured in an upcoming blog post (and potential book project). Help inspire others to pursue more meaningful, transformational travel!
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