Today is Argentina's Independence Day, and this past June 28th was the one-year anniversary of the end of my semester studying there, so I thought I'd take a moment to reflect on what my time there means to me. I realize, of course, that my familiarity with Argentina is very slight compared to that of an Argentine. I think that everyone's familiarity with the world is relatively limited, though. We can amplify that limited familiarity, though, and that enriches us. My 4 years at Fordham expanded my horizons in many ways I could not have guessed, and my time in Argentina was a big part of that. The current pandemic seems like a particularly good time to reflect on that.
In one sense, the entire world is exactly alike: it's all the same planet. That's probably what aliens say, if they exist. Cultural variations, however, amplify our way of experiencing the world. We focus intently on one place, and then we focus intently on another, and, pretty soon, we're expanded versions of ourselves. In one way or another, the house where I grew up in Quincy, Massachusetts was the symbolic center of my universe until I went to Fordham. Then Fordham (the Rose Hill campus) became the center of my universe. Once I was in Argentina, my perspective shifted. I was in the capital of a country on the other side of the world. The enormity of this came upon me every time I was in Plaza de Mayo, the symbolic center of Buenos Aires.
Every place is to the visitor like a new piece of music; it transforms. I hope that I, with whatever deep sensibilities I have as a poet, am able to transform whatever experiences I have had into art. Argentina is, like all countries in the world, very beautiful. I have a great deal of affection for it, and I want to wish it well on today's anniversary of its birth as a nation. The world feels topsy-turvy in the midst of the pandemic, as everyone has reflected; my world was turned upside down (I am certain, for the better) by my time at Fordham, and I am grateful for my time in Argentina as a key component of that.