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Photo by Celia Mitchell (2015/16 Semester Photo Contest Entry), Indonesia Semester.

The Power of Disconnecting

I feel that each of us students had some sort of fear about leaving our phones, such a big part of our everyday lives, behind. How will we update our friends, speak with our families, and find out what’s happening in the world?  How will we pass the time without those little computers at our fingertips?  What I’ve observed is that we still find ways to do those things without our electronics. When we feel the need to update our friends, we turn to the person next to us, share our thoughts, and have a conversation. We may not be able to constantly update our families back home, but without phones we’re building close-knit families among our groups and instructors and learning to be more open and to listen more closely. We can’t look up what’s going on in the world on our screens, but we can and have been physically looking up and seeing what’s happening in the communities we’re immersed in. We are constantly surrounded by brand-new and impressively beautiful scenery, and I’ve noticed everyone taking time to appreciate the view and just bask in the sunlight. I’m constantly impressed by the continual use of our journals, and I think many of us are using writing as a tool to reflect on our experiences so far and to record the events of our time here. And, while I don’t think we can go without phones forever, I do think that just setting them aside and allowing ourselves to be influenced by tangible things has, in less than a week, broadened our perspectives and given us a deeper understanding of what it means to be a worldly and compassionate person. I imagine that after six weeks we will all feel more connected to ourselves and the world we live in, which I believe is truly the power of disconnecting.