Thursday, June 17, 2010

Opportunities in South America: Vol State in Argentina

This May a team of eight faculty and students spent an intense ten days in Argentina, visiting three cities and many schools. The goal was to create relationships that can lead to new opportunities for study abroad. The travelers were: Beth Pippen (a student in elementary education); Luis del Rios, (a student in physical therapy); Phyllis Foley (dean of social science); Clark Cropper (professor of geology); Rick Parrent ( director of career placement); Michelle Vandiver ( professor of Spanish); Carolyn Moore (director of physical therapy); Sue Mulcahy (professor of art).

Sue and Michelle share their thoughts on the trip:

"You can sleep when you're home"

The trip was equal parts hard work and fun. Our host in Buenos Aires and Mar del Plata, Carlos Rios, did a wonderful job of putting together our contacts with local educators and our tour of the country. Our days were long, up at 6 am for a day of visiting schools and touring the cities. Dinners started at 9pm; each a unique and entertaining experience.

We certainly learned that eating is an important social event. We spent about 2 hours every night eating and sometimes 2 hours during lunch as well… Meat is very important in Argentina and so are papas fritas we learned. They were Carolyn’s favorite! I can’t tell you how many times she said “¿más papas fritas?” as she laughed like crazy. We tried bife (beef), cordero (lamb), pollo (chicken), cerdo (pork), cabra (goat), calamares (squid) and probably some others.

¡Vino tinto y café con leche son muy importantes también! Oh, how I’m missing my café con leche. It just doesn’t taste the same at home.

Michelle ( professor of Spanish) was our translator. Few of our contacts in Argentina spoke English, so she was very busy. Her open boisterous personality was a great icebreaker. One of the biggest lessons in traveling is to really feel what it is like to be out of your element. Each day we visited one or two different schools. Our business meetings took extra focus and patience by all. Sometimes an institution would also provide a translator, but I was glad that Michelle was there keeping an eye out for misunderstandings. Here is a picture of our visit to an Elementary School in the city of Mar del Plata.

We also visited the Physical Therapy program at Universidad FASTA and Art at Nueva Escuela de Diseño.

Michelle-We visited three cities during our ten days in Argentina. To say our visit was face-paced is an understatement. Four days were spent in Buenos Aires, the capital, two in Mar de Plata, a college town off the Atlantic Ocean, and four in Salta, a city located in the Andes.

Salta was my personal favorite. It’s close to Bolivia so the culture and the people were a bit different from the rest of Argentina. 70% of Argentines are of Italian descent but in Salta we saw an indigenous influence. The people were beautiful and so was the city. There we visited Salta’s Catholic University where we were received with enthusiasm. Every meeting we attended included café and most offered pastries. My favorite pastries had dulce de leche, a tasty caramel, inside. ¡Extraño los postres de Argentina! Oh how I miss the Argentine desserts!

The country was celebrating its bicentennial while we were there. In the square, we saw school children dressed in traditional clothing. One of the little girls gave me a flag ribbon for my suit which I happily wore.

In Salta we also did some sightseeing which included the Museo de Arqueología de Alta Montaña (The Archeology Museum of High Altitude) where we saw a 500 year old mummy which was almost perfectly preserved by the cold. Click here to read a related article in the NY Times.

We also visited the Andes Mountains and saw a Folklore Show where we encountered the very scary Witches!

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Hola Michelle I loved the blog you and Sue posted! That's funny i dont remember eating any of those pappas fritas! I did try the yerba Matte which gave me laryngytis for 3 days. Three days without a voice!