Student Blogs & Vlogs | College Study Abroad Programs, IFSA-Butler

Better Late than Never

First of all, this post is way overdue. I actually sat down and wrote it over a week ago, but am only posting it now, but better late than never, right?

I just got back from an incredible experience at my internship, so I thought I’ll start from there and see where my thoughts will inevitably drift. I’ve started working with Cascos Verdes, an NGO that works for the inclusion of people with intelectual disabilities in both the social and world and workforce through environmental education. That’s a mouthful, I know, so let me break it down: Basically, Cascos has 2 programs, an educational program where participants are given the opportunity to take integrated classes on environmental studies in local universities, and a professional training program where participants are then trained to to give presentations about environmental protection at various schools, universities, businesses, offices, etc. This morning, I got to see those educational ambassadors in action. We traveled to an office building (complete with desks strewn with photos of Che Guevara and mate, of course) and I got to watch two groups who had completed 2 years of training give presentations about recycling. It was truly inspiring to watch all of their faces light up as the office workers listened attentively and engaged in the activity. I heard a bunch of workers conceding, “no lo sabia”  (I didn’t know that), which proves that those 2 years of training not only gave the environmental ambassadors enough confidence to speak in front of a group of over 50 people (more confidence than I would have), but it also gave them tools to share the knowledge they obtained in an effective, engaging way. Cascos Verdes is doing important work and I’m so proud to be a part of their team.

In other work-related news, I just finished my first midterm–a take home essay test, which may sound easy, but was possibly the most challenging academic task of my young life. Not only is the class entirely in Spanish (obviously), but it’s also entirely theoretical, something that I’m not used to in my Sociology classes back at Emory. So you can get an idea of the struggle, here’s a rough translation of one of the questions: “Analyze how the new mechanisms of control were implemented in schools dealing with the modern organizational crisis and what potential impacts they could have on the subjectivity of academic agents.” So yeah, that happened. And I’m glad it’s over. In terms of my other classes, they’re quite easy, which unfortunately inevitably means they’re pretty boring. At the risk of sounding like a complete nerd, I miss taking classes at Emory, and picking out my classes for next semester has made me feel like a kid in a candy store (Sociology of Environmental Justice & Literature of Activism, I’m coming for you!)

As you probably have already gathered, I spend a significant amount of my time playing frisbee and dancing bachata until the wee hours of the morning (there’s something truly gratifying about leaving a bachata club at 7 am when the sun has already risen). But I’m in Argentina after all, so I felt obligated to switch up the bachata routine and head to a milonga the other night to check out the tango scene. Is it impressive and sophisticated and sensual? Yes. Is it as fun as bachata? In my humble opinion, nope.

Other fun cultural things I’ve done include:

  • Attending a 4 hour long opera at the remarkable Teatro Colon–we saw Don Carlos, an opera about a love triangle involving the rulers of Spain in the 16th century. I definitely recommend it, even if you can’t understand what they’re saying, the music alone is worth making the commitment to sit in a cramped seat for several hours (as long as you take a siesta beforehand, of course)
  • Graffiti tour–a 3 hour expedition of some of the most interesting street art in Buenos Aires, which came with a ton of information about the city’s political climate
  • El cuartito! A famous pizza place that was founded in 1934 with photos of tango singer Carlos Gardel and futbol jerseys all over the walls
  • Cafe Tortoni–a touristy “must do.” Founded in 1858, the oldest coffee shop in the city. Their chocolate con churros are to die for!

A note on language: while I’ve definitely improved, it’s still such a challenge. There are so many vocabulary words I just don’t know, and complex conjugations that still don’t flow as naturally as I would like. Still, I’m proud of how far I’ve come and determined to improve every day. And not for nothing, I just wrote a 10 page paper in Spanish about sociological theory. Wanna guess how I celebrated? Yup, I danced bachata.

Saludos!

Andrea :)

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