Luard Scholar 1997 - 1998
Spelman College - - University of Sussex
Moving Beyond Boundaries: My Luard Experience:
My year abroad at the University of Sussex in Brighton, England was without question one of the most profound experiences of my life. It was not my first time traveling out of the country; however, it was my first experience truly immersing myself in another society's culture. Coming into one's own is a typical story of an individual's college years, so imagine doing it abroad where even the smallest experiences such as crossing the street or riding a bus can become exciting events in themselves. I learned so much in England beginning on the first day with the humbling shock of an exchange rate that was not in my favor as an American. My cultural education continued by sharing a suite with students from Greece, Italy, Ghana and England. I learned how to cook pasta sauce using only fresh ingredients from Lucia and how unappetizing a real English breakfast is from Stewart. I shopped in the same historic arcades that ancient royalty frequented in Brighton, and watched cows roam outside my window in the village of Falmer. I developed an ever-broadening interest in British literature and the history of imperialism through my studies and by traveling to Ireland and India, two countries with colonial ties to England.
Even more transformative was encountering a new variation of identity politics that proposed a different understanding of one's positioning in the world. I had eye-opening discussions with people of African descent from the Caribbean and Africa who had no concept of black identity as we understand it as African-Americans. From their perspective, they were not black but simply Nigerian, Martiniquen, or British. Equally enlightening were my conversations with white Britons who were "on the dole" accepting public assistance, and students who were struggling to pay for the newly instituted $1,000 college tuition. Making their acquaintance added a contrasting image to the middle and upper-class white Americans that I knew in the United States. Suddenly what I understood to be true about the world no longer was. I had to learn to look beyond the boundaries of an American identity to understand the realities of the people around me.
Because of this experience, I am a wiser and better-rounded person today. I am able to share with my students another perspective that moves beyond the only reality that they have been exposed to. In addition I am already making future plans to take my daughter on trips abroad, so that she, too, can learn to appreciate the freedom to exist beyond the boundaries learned at home.
- Dr. Jill Toliver Richardson
Dr. Jill Toliver Richardson
Assistant Professor of English
Borough of Manhattan Community College
Luard Fellow 1997-1998
Spelman College Class of 1999