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World Traveling and Code Switching

kwyly's picture

I wanted to go back to Maria Lugones article about world traveling after thinking about this concept in our daily lives. I recall in class when we did a comparison between world traveling and code switching through investigating their differences. In short, some aspects of world traveling included being present and listening, a goal of being at ease, and participating and observing in a open and accepting environment. We discussed code switching as a product and knowing what is expected and trying to fit into a particular situation instead of experiencing it with fewer predefined expectations. Lugones' idea of traveling between many worlds presents an idea similar to code switching but with different intentions: "Those of us who are "world"-travellers have the distinct experience of being different in different "worlds" and of having the capacity to remember other "worlds" and ourselves in them" (11). Through experiencing these different worlds, world travellers are able to be comfortable and expose themselves to many different environments and experiences shifts in their personality and ways they act. Lugones emphasizes that these are often not conscious and happen naturally due to the environment they are in (11). This differes from code swtiching where there are often active attempts to change oneself to fit into a situation. After reading this article and thinking about it in the context of daily experiences, there are many instances of code switching that happen regularly and shape the way we learn, act, and are perceived by others. For instance, the concept of interviewing, an increasing factor in many of our lives, depends on individuals acting in a certain way in a specific moment. Individuals change the way that they act in an interview to fit the needs and desires of the interviewer or organization; although these aspects could be part of one's identity, it is necessary to change how you present yourself as a reflection of proving how you understand a situation. Also, at placement it is common for students to switch between home and school identities or even to change based on who they socialize or study with. I am curious to what extent we change the way we act, or code switch, in order to fit into particular situations. From exploring what it means to be literate this semester, it seems as though it is necessary to change yourself to fit into different situations ranging from a student to a woman in Zimbabwe. To what extent are we world travelling and how often is a blance of code switching and world travelling performed? I think after reading this article it is difficult to consider what each of us does everyday as we interact in and adapt to new situations; this article encouraged me to reflect on how I and others act in accordance to what we think, do, and say.


Jenny Chen's picture

Similarities and Differences

I find that code switching and world traveling is evaluated in a case-by-case basis. What I have realized since first reading the article is that an individual is surrounded by a new environment when world travelling whereas when code switching, the individual surrounds the environment. I think of the two in this way because in code switching the individual is trying to “fit it” or “acclimate” to the environment and thus, in many ways it is a choice. World traveling is more of an immersion into a new environment.

Both code switching or world traveling deal with an individual’s relationship with their environment and how they communicate. At this point I’d like to reflect on Lemke’s Literacy and Diversity piece because even though code switching and world traveling are distinguishably different we must not overlook their similarities. Lemke writes, “Language and culture, language variety and subculture are inextricable” and I agree with Hannah that we should explore these terms in a more “daily sense” because it is really all around us. Neither code switching nor world travelling can stand alone, i.e dealing with only individuals or only cultures. Both are necessary for code switching and world traveling to be relevant in the situation.

Also, as Kat says, “it is necessary to change how you present yourself as a reflection of proving how you understand a situation” shows that both code switching and world traveling work alongside one another. Understanding a situation is world traveling while changing how and individual presents himself is code switching. I find that I still have much to understand about both code switching and world traveling but what I am noticing is that while different, many of these topics share similarities that result in a balance in ones environment. 

HannahB's picture

Here or There?

I really appreciate the nuances you brought up within your blog post. Specifically, I think this distinction between code switching and world traveling in daily life is really essential. It brought me back to the discussion those of us in the 360 are having in the psych class concerning self-narrativity and the stories we tell about ourselves (our story/presentation of ourself in interviews was a prominent example). I realize now that my initial reading of Lugones' article was a very single-minded read. The term "world traveling" connotes conceptions of, well, just that---world traveling. I thought about myself entering into a different culture in a homestay in Thailand, a university in Rome, a fishing village, a metropolitan city in Europe, etc. Point being, I was thinking of world traveling in a situation in which I was entering a starkly contrasting environment from my own, one where it would be easier to pinpoint my actions and approaches.

However, I think it is a valuable point to state that much of the world traveling and code switching we do exists within local environments--the transition from home to dorm to sports team to club to classroom. WIthin our dicussion of self-narrativity and culture it became clear that we do shift depending on our environment, even if the change of self and context is subtle at best. I am wondering to what degree these changes can be problematized.

In the definitions you provided, it seems that a key component is the degree of awareness. WIthin world traveling, the change is more fluid--you are not consciously changing to the same degree that you do in code switching. Yet at the same time you are able to look back retrospectively. It seems to me that Lugones' article is some what limited by this "first time experience" phenomena. It is how you act during that first moment of immersion, the degree to which you embrace a new microculture with open arms. I would argue that most of the world-traveling we do between microcultures in daily life is not a new experience, rather we have developed a self-narrative about our sense of self within each of those contexts. In contrast, within an interview, or another similar new experience with a new group of people, we probably are code switching. Thus I would like to explore these terms in a more daily sense, rather than a once in a while--here is you in an entirely new country and culture.

I think my thoughts on this topic are still very convoluted. But in terms of where to go next, I think code switching and world traveling should be talked more about in terms of self-narrativity. For it is the story we tell ourself about our perceptions and the story we choose to emit to others that dictates whether we are code switching or world traveling. I also think this idea of understanding these terms in a very local culture, with only slight variations is also really important and could help us get more out of this article.