by Riley Taitingfong
Hello, my name is Riley Taitingfong. As the spring quarter draws to a close, I can now say that I am a senior! I was born abroad but I have lived in Washington for the majority of my life. I graduated from Marysville-Pilchuck High School in 2010 and came to the University of Washington, where I am currently studying Communications and Disability Studies.
I work part-time as a gymnastics instructor at Seattle Gymnastics Academy, and I also work at the Experimental Education Unit at UW- a school including children with and without disabilities. After graduation I hope to attend graduate school to continue research and advocacy work in the disability studies field.
Since coming to UW, I have felt fortunate to have access to the outstanding faculty, research, and experiential opportunities available to students. The OMA&D study abroad program came to my attention through those avenues; Professor Ralina Joseph introduced the program during her COM 289 course. Through this course, Communication and Difference, we engaged in readings and discussions on difference such as race, gender, sexuality, ability, class, tourism. It was the first time I had considered tourism as a form of difference, and I found my inherent assumptions of travel and tourism transformed. Professor Joseph guided us through a critical interrogation of the power and privilege that drive tourism, and the effects of those dynamics at macro and micro levels. When the Barbados program was introduced, I found it was the first time a study abroad opportunity directly related to the content I was engaging with in class. Considering the transformation I felt throughout my quarter in 289, I was drawn to this program as an experiential extension of that learning.
It goes without saying that I am very excited to spend A-Term in Barbados. I look forward to experiencing the island with my peers as well as those that I will meet while abroad. Blogging for the program courses as well as the OMA&D will be a great way to document and reflect upon my experiences; I am so glad to share it with others. Thank you for reading!