By Tahlia Terhune, Columnist

The screening of “Tambien La Lluvia” — “Even the Rain” — in Ingram Hall taught potential travelers to be aware of their impact without requiring them to leave the city limits. The Wang Center hosted the fictional movie to encourage discussion about cultural immersion and social justice issues.

Students, faculty and community members gathered April 17 to watch “Tambien La Lluvia,” a story about a director and producer creating a film about Christopher Columbus. In their film, the director and producer wanted to portray the reality of how Columbus denied the indigenous people of the “New World” their rights.

“Tambien La Lluvia” is a gripping story that highlights the power governments can hold over indigenous people. The main characters decided to film their movie in Bolivia, because it was cheaper for production and labor wages. However, the irony is that they are surrounded by Bolivians who are experiencing the same thing as the indigenous people they are trying to represent in their film on Columbus.

The directors are so consumed and obsessed with the vision of their film that they are oblivious to the reality of what is happening around them. In this case, the privatization of water by the government denied the locals of Bolivia their rights to water. After watching “Tambien La Lluvia,” attendees discussed traveling, studying abroad and exactly what it means to be immersed in a culture.

According to the Wang Center, roughly 300 students study abroad during J-term alone. This means a large portion of the Pacific Lutheran University body travels to different cultures around the world. We discussed how our understanding of “Tambien La Lluvia” plays a larger role in our understanding and interaction with other cultures. We need to be culturally sensitive and aware of our surroundings.

It is important to be aware of social issues if you plan to really connect with a culture. However, it is especially important for Americans in a developing country to recognize we may have more power than indigenous peoples. This may not be something we are even conscious of. It is not unreasonable to say that we may be a glimmer of hope to indigenous peoples, just as the movie portrayed.

Visiting a country and immersing yourself in its culture and trials means you have become connected in some way to the social issues, be they good or bad, at hand. When we return home, we are filled with meaningful memories of what we encountered. Yet to the people of the country we visited, we were simply bystanders or observers, and thus quickly forgotten. There are two different perspectives, and we should be aware of this when we return home.

Sophomore Savannah Turner, who plans on studying abroad, said professors at PLU prepare students for different cultures, particularly in language classes.

“Your interaction with a culture varies depending on the country you’re in,” Turner said. “I think we have a duty as a person to intervene in social justice issues where we can and [when] there’s no threat of danger.”

It is difficult to find a balance between immersing yourself in a culture for a personal learning experience and helping to inspire change if the situation calls you to do so. It is important to use discernment to know when to get involved. ◼︎

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