Here are some reasons for choosing "patagonia" as my title:
During my freshman year of college, my friend Allison had an assignment to learn from others life experiences. It was for what she always referred to as her "Patagonia class." I assume the class was centered around Bruce Chatwin's "In Patagonia," I book I have yet to read, but long to. To fulfill her assignment, she and I set up a table with paper, crayons, and a sign that said, "Come tell us your life philosophy." As people passed, they drew pictures, told stories, and shared with us everything from silly catch phrases to significant turning points in their lives. It was one of the first of many moments I've had in college where I've seen the power of creativity in gaining knowledge and the universality of human experience.
This year I went to a slide show/ lecture given by an alpine climber who has done first ascents all over the world, but whose favorite place is patagonia. He told us a story of doing a seemingly impossible climb with 3 other friends. They got stuck in storms; one climber nearly died. They stayed on the mountain for 26 days with only 15 days of food, attempting the summit again and again. They finally gave up, and came down, having to eat their first aid kit on the 9 day hike back to civilization. As I watched the slides of jagged peaks (http://www.trekkingchile.com/DE/fotos-patagonien.htm) intermingled with faces of frozen beards and children herding sheep, I realized that I needed to do something like this in my life. I needed to go places that would change my ideas of what mountains looked like, that would challenge my concept of time, that would bring me closer to others than everyday living ever could, and that would make me revere God's grace in giving us such an awesome planet to live on.
Patagonia is on the southern tip of South America. Its people have lived lives that are probably about as far from my experience as its possible to get. I love studying people, how they think, why they act the way they do. Its why I love psychology and sociology. They teach me the mechanisms behind human behavior. But the necessary subjective element-- the empathy, the respect, the understanding, the compassion, the charity-- this comes from learning from, living with, and loving those different from ourselves. That is what Patagonia symbolizes for me.