Know Thyself in the United States and Make Your Own Story a Global One

Mauricio Pulecio-Pulgarin, an international student from Colombia studying at the University of Pittsburgh is a finalist for the ISV Magazine Margaret W. Wong Scholarship. Read his essay here!

Is it worthwhile to come to the United States to thoroughly study your own language, culture and literature? Being Hispanic, this question has been presented to me repeatedly when I reveal that I am pursuing a PhD in Hispanic Language and Literatures in Pittsburgh, and it has confronted me ethically and professionally. But although it seems paradoxical, being in Pennsylvania I have felt the need of Know thyself more than ever. In order to achieve it, I have had to comprehensively research my own story, which at the end is part of the History of Latin America. Here, I have had to confront audiences of students, professors and colleagues from all over the world, all of them very serious and well informed, who really want to systematically understand what my country’s social problems are, and who value what my home academia is doing. Therefore, studying in America offers the opportunity to make one’s own story a global one, and to put it in dialogue with the higher philosophical and scientific parameters.

My goal is to become a humanities college professor. Thanks to my studies in America I know I will achieve it in any part of the world, since now I can assure that American universities help to fully discover the infinite source of intellectual richness lying in one’s own identity, from where one can immensely contribute to the present cosmopolitan dynamics of knowledge production.

It would be very cliché to say that studying in America will make one an ambassador of one’s own culture. Even if the latter is not completely false, what is more important is that during one’s studies in the United States, one should teach where one comes from academically, in a challenging college context where (different to a casual meeting) the objectivity of the debate is prioritized above all. According to that, some major skills I have obtained here are passion for research in a virtually interconnected world, and communication of my gained knowledge to a universal audience. Those skills will be definitely helpful in my professional success.

Also, it is very important to express that while taking my studies in America, I have enjoyed a dynamic, democratic and equalitarian intellectual environment, respectful of differences, but also highly competitive; which demands an elevated level of autonomy and creativity from my work. I feel that due to my training amidst those important values, I could become an intellectual leader who uses his knowledge with freedom, but also with responsibility for human progress. In my experience, I can affirm that studying in the United States makes one a leader oriented by lofty ideals, fully aware that future human challenges are not easy. This reality requires one to acquire everything to actively contribute toward universal welfare.

Studying in America will help one, undoubtedly. But keep in mind that it also depends on one’s own effort, and on what one does with the knowledge acquired. The prestige of an American university by itself will not guarantee one’s success forever. However, after studying in America, one assumes a big responsibility toward oneself, one’s community and the world, and I am sure that any scholar really conscious of this obligation will be a hard worker, a brilliant professional, no matter where he or she could be located.

[typography font=”Lobster” size=”18″ size_format=”px”]Mauricio Pulecio-Pulgarin [/typography]

Home Country: Colombia

University/College: University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

margaret w. wong scholarship international student voice magazine

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