As a student of this course, it is easy to understand why the Avatar Project is important to our learning. Rather than just reading the assigned texts, discussing them in class and writing about them in essays, this project allows us to interact not only with facts but also with emotions. Studying the military dictatorships of Chile and Argentina is certainly difficult, but I felt that this project was a good way to process what we were reading about. For me, setting aside time each week to deeply think about Marisol’s personal thoughts in response to a specific event really helped me to grasp the fact that emotions are absolutely inseparable from the relationships between individual and society and the individual and state in Argentina or Chile during this period.
Our avatars were not simply ourselves, and I found great value in that. The project would have been much different had the assignment been to just write personal journal entries as if you had been alive for certain events. My avatar, Marisol, is very different from me on a personal level. I think that assigning her a personality, occupation and family life that seems so different than my own was a way for me to make the project a bit more digestible. At times, I think that it was easier to delve into intense emotions when they were not exactly my own. Often, Marisol reacted to an event differently than I think I would have. Not only did this give me perspective on the unimaginable amount of ways that one can respond to such trauma, but I think that it actually fueled my own emotions. Marisol became a very quiet individual who internalized much of her trauma. She accumulated anger at times when I think I would have externalized those feelings, and she isolated herself emotionally although there were others around her with similar pain. She is very passive and resentful, while I am much more assertive and forward. Giving Marisol a different set of prominent emotions than myself allowed me to dig into her thoughts. Giving her the same personality as me would not have been as productive, as I would try to avoid the discomfort of confronting my own emotions.
Of course, though, it is impossible to fully separate the person who I am vicariously writing though from myself entirely. When I read Ways of Going Home by Alejandro Zambra, a certain quote from the narrator seemed especially relevant to the Avatar Project: “I knew little, but at least I knew that: no one could speak for someone else. That although we might want to tell other people’s stories, we always end up telling our own.” In a way, while I was synthesizing Marisol’s thoughts and reactions, I was largely influenced by my own. Marisol could only be reserved and passive because I am not.
I am pleased with the story I created for Marisol, regardless of how believable it might be. I am happy that I was able to create a person with intense emotions and thoughts. I truly think that this project gave me perspective and provoked my own emotions and thoughts.