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Wyatt Smith, Keegan Traveling Fellow

Wyatt Smith

2010-2011 Michael B. Keegan Traveling Fellow
Vanderbilt University

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Archive for the ‘Travel Reflections’ Category

Apr '11

A Haitian Palm Sunday on Rue des Freres


Apr '11

Motobikes, Haircuts, and Discomfort in Haiti

My first full day in Haiti proves eye opening. The hardships, while uncomfortable, are not overwhelming: the showers are frigid, the heat suffocating, the electrical grid undependable, and the public transport limited. But thanks to my Haitian hosts, I have access to a bed, clean water, and occaisionally, an Internet cafe. So it’s downright luxurious when compared to those living in massive refugee tent camps in [...]

Apr '11

Encountering Heartbreak and Hope: First Impressions in Haiti

Haiti represents a number of concurrent, conflicting realities. On one dimension, its people are proud members of the oldest republic in Latin America, and the first black republic in the world. On another, they are citizens of a failed state, the poorest country in the Western hemisphere, and lack a functional government to provide infrastructure, [...]

Feb '11

My Conversation with George W. Bush

Like most political science majors at Vanderbilt, I spent many undergraduate hours crafting papers, honing arguments, and developing frameworks for analyzing presidential decisions. For all the work, however, I hardly imagined that a few months out of Vanderbilt, I would have the chance to apply that type of critical thinking to a personal conversation with [...]

Feb '11

Experiencing the Richness of Argentine Culture

A week into Argentina, I am reminded of how edifying it is to be out in the world. There is much to explore in Buenos Aires, the city of European-inspired cobblestone streets, steakhouses, street markets, teeming public life, and tango dancers. Factor in 86-degree summer weather in February, and it’s hard not to find high [...]

Dec '10

Developing “Guanxi” with the Global China Connection

Few societal norms are as important to understanding Chinese culture as guanxi, or the potency of one’s family, academic, social, and professional relationships. Guanxi influences everything in China, from negotiating potential business deals to cutting through red tape on the way to securing a housing permit. And in a country with a bureaucracy as large [...]

Dec '10

Obedience as Virtue: The Unique Nature of Chinese Citizenship

When interviewing people in my travels, I try to always include a question that probes people’s definitions of their citizenship: “What makes x different from any other sort of nationality?”
It’s an open-ended question for a reason, as the subject’s answer usually reveals much about his or her construction of nationalistic identity. For example, an answer [...]

Dec '10

The Impressiveness and Drive of Students in China

Throughout my travels, I have sought opportunities to engage with students in different global contexts. Given my commitment to join the Teach for America movement as a high school teacher in my home state of Alabama next year, I am always eager for the chance to learn about other educational systems, pedagogical models, and methods [...]

Dec '10

Scrambling to Watch the Iron Bowl in Beijing

Few rivalries in American sport compare to the intensity of the Alabama/Auburn divide. Every Alabama native has loyalties in this rivalry matchup, even those like me who attended college out of the state. I’m a Crimson Tide fan, and for nine consecutive years, I have managed to witness the Iron Bowl matchup in person from [...]

Dec '10

24 Hours in Beijing: An Introduction to the Paradoxes of New China

After a brief respite in the United States, my traveling fellowship leads me to set out for China, the world’s rising power in the East. Growing up, I always viewed China as a country shrouded in mystery, a “communist power” on the other side of the world. It seemed like a place of immense factories, [...]