I got a lot out of this project. When studying history, I learn best when I can connect to the subject on an emotional level, and the avatar project provided me with the perfect way to do so. This project also helped me process a lot of the more challenging material we read for class. I was very affected by these readings, especially the accounts of disappearances, torture, rape, murder, etc. I often didn’t know how to process what I was reading, and I’d be stuck with violent and heartbreaking images replaying in my mind. I didn’t know what to do with these images, but weekly avatar blog posts helped me process what I was reading about. I could not only incorporate certain details that stuck out to me (such as people often being kidnapped on their birthdays), but I could “journal” about my reactions to these challenging readings. I put the word journal in quotation marks, because of course Rocío’s blogs were not my personal journal… but in a way they were. Her grief over her disappeared brother, Ezequiel, in many ways reflected my reactions to the difficult subjects I was learning about. The avatar project was, in a way, an outlet for me to respond to what we were learning in class on an emotional–rather than academic–level. And in this way, the history we were studying became a lot more real for me.
Regarding Ezequiel’s disappearance, I often wondered if my blogs were getting too repetitive, if I needed to add new elements to my avatar’s story. But we kept reading accounts or watching interviews in which family members of the disappeared talked about how they would think about their lost loved ones constantly, sometimes obsessively, even decades later. These stories stuck with me, and I realized it made sense for my avatar to continually come back to her brother–for those thoughts to overwhelm her life and make it hard to move on with other things.
In sum, my learning informed my blog posts, in the sense that my learning provided the content to what I wrote about. Additionally, I think my blog posts informed my learning. Being able to connect with history on such a personal and emotional level through writing blog entries helped me approach all of the material we covered in this class with an emotional lens in additional to a purely academic perspective. And that emotional lens greatly enhanced my overall learning experience.