Author Archives: Helena Platt

About Helena Platt

Hi there! I'm a Rhetoric Studies major at Whitman College, studying abroad in Ecuador for the fall of 2017. I hail from the rural Oregon coast (Coos Bay represent!), and I miss the ocean all the time. My interests include: Cats (CATS!), tomatoes, sociolinguistics, Fun Science, reproductive justice, Spanish, everything Terry Pratchett has ever written, sociology, and jokes about capitalism that betray a slight undercurrent of desperation. I chose this program for a lot of reasons. For one, I really, really love Spanish and speaking Spanish and understanding how it works! . For another, I didn't really want a dual-enrollment study abroad (why would I leave my college to just... do more college?), so SIT's field-based programs really appealed to me. But the the deciding factor was this program's emphasis on language and the influence it has in Ecuador's cultures. I have a lot of passion for linguistics; I'm lowkey a Rhetoric major because Whitman doesn't have a linguistics major, so a program with an emphasis on sociolinguistics is perfect for me. I am so full of words all the time, so I'm very excited for this blog. Hope y'all enjoy it!

Hey all, and welcome to the official grand opening of your new favorite blog! A lot of this you can find in my about, but I wanted to expand on some stuff. Context is key, yo.

Introduction to the Plattypus Herself: Who even is Helena Coleen Platt and why is she in Ecuador?

The Who

  • Helena Coleen Platt; age 20, Rhetoric Studies major. Beloved friend, sister, and awkward person standing slightly off to the side in group pictures.
  • Although I was born in San Francisco, Walla Walla (population 30,000) is the biggest city I’ve lived in since kindergarten. Quito (population 6,671,191) is going to be quite the experience.
  • I talk a lot. Words are cool.
  • I have no definite career in mind, but right now I’m interested in social/advocacy work because I love being poor and stressed, I guess?
  • I hate capitalism because it diminishes the inherent value of human life but I’m too jaded to be an anarchist so I just kind of float in this weird left-ish political space and this may show in my writing.
  • I’m white as h*ck, in terms of both ethnicity and culture. I grew up in a predominately white town and I attend a mostly white school. I mention this because, unfortunately, colorism is prevalent in Latin America and my skin tone will influence my experiences here.
  • I love cats a lot. Just want that on the record.
  • I identify as queer and nonbinary, and served as Whitman’s GLBTQ intern for my sophomore year. I’m not planning on expressing either of these identities during my time in Ecuador. Helena, back in the closet? What is this, 2015?
  • I am neuroatypical. The ways in which I process and respond to situations do not always align with how others do. This is actually kind of a blessing, because it gives me some pretty unique insight! When you spend a lot of time working to understand things, you often notice some interesting aspects that are overlooked.

The What and the Why

  • Many people have asked me what exactly I’ll be studying in Ecuador, and I honestly do not know what to tell them. Some of it is Spanish, some of it is politics, some of it is anthropology… Ecuador: Politics, Development and Language has a fairly nebulous theme. Hopefully my later posts will help clear this up for potential students!
  • During our first dinner together, Fabian (the academic instructor) told us that this program promises us only two things for certain: Fluency in Spanish, and cultural immersion in Ecuador.
  • I get the vibe that the cultural experience and understanding is a greater focus than academics on this program. To be honest, I’m really excited about this! If I wanted an intense academic experience, I’d just study at Whitman for all four years. But that’s less conducive to my development as a person, and I’m probably going to learn more from living in Ecuador than I could in most classrooms.
  • This is not to imply that I don’t care about academics on this program! On the contrary; I am so goshdarn nervous and excited for my Independent Study Project. (More on that later.)
  • The number one draw of this program for me is the emphasis on language, both in the language courses are taught in, and the focus on language’s political power. That’s my jam.
  • We study and speak in Spanish, which is incredibly appealing to me! Spanish is a beautiful language and it makes a lot of sense in my head. It’s also really useful in the US. If I end up in social work, advocacy or immigration justice, then being fluent in Spanish is critical.
  • We get to learn an indigenous, non-Romantic language! Quechua! You do not even know how excited I am for this!
  • I wanted a non-European study abroad.
  • I want to understand the impacts of colonialism and western civilization in Latin America, which is difficult for a white gal living in the United States.
  • Fabian has some pretty great reviews from former students.
  • Field-based study!!!

Aaand that about wraps up my intro! Tomorrow is our first day of orientation, so stay tuned for an actual post about the program. ;p

The first thing I took a picture of in Ecuador. I love this flower.

My cute li’l room! This is where they store us for orientation week, before they move us into homestays.