Archives for the month of: May, 2016

Hope shares some of the joys she has experienced so far in Córdoba as well as her gratitude for hospitality, native trees, and personal growth in her most recent blog, an excerpt of which is posted below. For more stories, ranging from academic insights to overcoming fears in order to grow in relationship with friends in Barrio Argüello, you can follow her on tumbler.


The great Gayle Waters-Waters, of Youtube fame said “ I want the confidence of a girl deep into her third month of study abroad,” and I finally understand the sentiment fully. There’s a kind of calm that comes with knowing my surroundings and the people, and being comfortable speaking the language that makes me feel like Cordoba is my city. There’s something about the scent of medialunas floating through the air in the mornings that makes me feel at home and ready to take on the day as I walk to the bus stop every morning. I’ve even come to look forward to my daily rides in the collectivo , which at times is so crowded that I have to stand on my tiptoes in order to fit, and am constantly bumping people, constantly saying “permiso” and “disculpa,” all because I get to interact with the beautiful people of this beautiful place, and think about what I hope the day will bring. This is the first month I haven’t dreaded going to my Castellano class for fear of making a fool of myself, and the first month that I’ve spoken to cab drivers, shopkeepers, and locals without immediately being asked “De donde sos?”. In fact, last week during Argentine labor day I was talking to the woman driving my cab back from the centro, talking about the significance of the holiday in Argentina, and what she was going to do with the rest of the day, and she asked me (in Castellano of course) where I worked in the centro, and when I told her I was an intercambio from the US, she asked “How long have you been here?” and when I replied three months, she looked surprised, and told me how well I spoke Castellano. Needless to say, that gave me a lot more confidence!

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Hermanas Terecita, Leti and Andrea with the Argüello crew

Even more exciting than getting compliments on my language abilities was having the Hermanas of Argüello over for dinner on Friday! I kept telling them how excited I was to have them over and finally take care of them and cook for them for once! We told them all they needed to bring was their appetites and their instruments, and they were so happy to oblige. Genine, Amanda and Lou made burrito bowls for dinner, and Catherine and I made tres leches cake for dessert, and we ate, cracked jokes, and make music until it was time for the sisters to get back to Argüello before the police close the neighborhood, as they do daily at midnight to prevent further drug activity and crime. It was such a joyful night, because my community got to meet Hermanas Andrea, Leti, and Terecita , and I got to show off how adorable,  smart, and genuinely kind my little Hermanitas are! I feel so lucky to have them be an important part of my time here, and by the end of the night, my cheeks hurt from smiling in sheer adoration of those women. The way Leti can be so sincere and genuinely kind, but also crack some of the funniest and most sarcastically witty jokes at the drop of a hat, Andrea’s patience, and loving care for everyone she encounters, and Terecita’s quiet sweetness, desire to make others happy, and musical spirit. I LOVE THESE WOMEN.

hope1After we said a bittersweet bye to Katie on Sunday, Carly and I spent the morning making alfajores de maizena from scratch for our friend date! We had so much fun, and we were very happy with the finished product! The rest of Sunday was spent planting native trees for a reforestation effort, and later having merienda at Juan Carlos’s house in Mendiolaza, which was an optional paseo for Juan Carlos’s class, which has a large underlying theme of ecology and preservation of our world. We, along with a group of neighbors and youth, learned about how the native, and useful Quebrachos, and Espinillos had been abandoned for more aesthetically pleasing non-native trees, and then planted 50 little Espinillos and Quebrachos in a public park. Genine, MC, Tristyn and I went to JC’s house early with his daughter Sophie, to help make food and set up for merienda.

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JC’s wife Marcela, and her mother met us with smiles, saludos and besos. They taught us how to make a food typical of the campo and the Gauchos, tortas fritas (basically fried dough) which is absolutely delicious! We spent time together with JC and his family around the table in their beautiful yard (complete with organic vegetable garden-yay!) and ate until we were much too full and passed around mate, and laughed and shared lots of stories. It was a wonderful afternoon had by all, I am so grateful for JC and his family’s hospitality!

Abrazos y Besos,

Esperanza

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A reflection from Dan Curtain that mulls over the beauty of life, responds to some questions that have arisen in the context of this new culture, as well as his desire to live intentionally as a result of his experiences here.


During my lunch break I walked the several blocks its takes to get to Plaza de San Martín from the UCC. I found a park bench and sat, soaking in the life around me. The sky was the bluest of blues, and leaves the greenest of greens. Niñas frolicked and giggled, while pigeons pecked at the crumbs left behind by a woman’s Media Luna pastry. Chess pieces slid and clinked at the various tables near me. Occasionally, I am able to tap into this attentive existence and truly absorb the beauty that surrounds me. But, as Martin Laird mentions in his book, Into the Silent Land, this beauty also exists within. It is common to perceive God as “out there” beyond our reach, which isn’t entirely false, but God also exists within. There is something even more inherent to our existence than the exterior milieu of life and the internal anxieties that plague us. Silence. Stillness. These are experiences safeguarded by the mind, untapped by the chaos that surrounds us. This chaos, though, isn’t all bad. It simply is. We are just as much a part of nature as is a squirrel that inhabits a tree or a fox that digs a hole.

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The Cathedral in Plaza San Martin

While in class I made a comment: there is a trend amongst the younger American generations of today. Many of us are tired of society’s script, a script that has one seek a degree, then a job, then a spouse, then a house in the suburbs, then maybe a few kids, then a big wad of money, and then… we die. What most of these life goals lack, though, is intentional relationship. These norms are reflections of the consumerist, individualistic society in which we live. So, people my age travel, exploring the world, attempting to find life elsewhere because we have failed to find it in our very homes. Since arriving in Argentina I have been asked, “How can you travel so far for so long? Won’t you miss your family?” I will miss my family, but I am sadly as much a product of my culture as anyone else. Family and relationship aren’t regarded as important in our American culture. Thus, I strive to rid my body of this cultural toxin with patient, intentional “counterculture”.

I’ll leave you with a few words spoken by my professors today in class…

“Today, people die in the hospital alone. People used to die at home surrounded by those they love. Philosophy is as much learning how to live as it is learning how to die.”

“Our societies exist on killing but also on the idea that killing is bad. A ‘new’ society built on killing is not new at all.”