Back in the Fall of 2014 I had the immense pleasure of taking an Anthropology class at Los Angeles Valley College that sent me into a passioned frenzy of exploring diversity. This was no ordinary Anthropology class, yet it was the right class that calmed my nerves as I began my venture into being a full-time student on my quest to transfer to a University. The Anthropology of Witchcraft, Religion and Magic – otherwise referred to as Anthro. 121. Rebecca Stein, author of the textbook and teacher of the class helped me find my love of anthropology with her own enthusiasm for teaching and sharing knowledge with Community College students. Religion is a touchy subject and she handled class discussions with such effortlessness that we never found ourselves in a heated debate or debacle.
I am someone who loves culture and yet am not all that cultured. I’ve traveled far and wide. I leave the zip code whenever possible just to explore. My parents immigrated from Central and South America in the 80’s, had me in the 90’s and I’d like to say the three of us grew up together learning American culture and abandoning Colombian and El Salvadorian culture all together. And so, I am so grateful that Anthropology found me and has allowed me to ask people to share their rich traditions, rituals, and love of their own culture with a student of Anthropology discovering her passion for diversity.
I discovered a new found confidence when I began studying Anthropology and on my very first cultural immersion assignment, I went to WatThai in “the Valley.” The people were beautiful, warm, and friendly. They welcomed me with open arms, fed me, and posed happily for the camera as they excitedly shared everything about their culture behind the scenes. The photos featured on this first blog post are from my time spent experiencing a festival celebrating the Thai Kings Birthday in the year 2014. Two weeks ago, news broke that King Bhumibol Adulyadej had passed and this prompted me to finally get this blog started. In honor of King Bhumibol Adulyadej and the beautiful people descendant of Thai heritage, I dedicate my first blog post to them and thank them for taking their time with me, and hope to become a better Anthropological journalist since I recorded 0% of my first time out in the field. Rookie mistake, however, I was able to enjoy the experience not as an outsider looking in, but as someone who was welcomed into the culture, who had to put her camera down and just take it all in.