Students worked on academics focusing on public health, nursing and nutrition in Argentina with a lecture and discussion with Dr. Llano, a local pediatrician. He talked about the regional public health situation, Argentina’s socialized healthcare system, and the process for medical practitioners. The second part of the day our students and faculty had Spanish language classes to help them work on their Spanish – muy bien!
Lot of academics, cultural information, and antics on our bus trips throughout Mendoza and the region… the back of the bus was particularly energetic!
“On the first night of Argentina at our host family’s house, mama said I was from Florida and I was going to be cold and made me put on her flamingo pajamas! Mama likes to dress me! This is my face wearing these pajamas.” ~ Brianna, JWU Student
Day 4 – CONIN
Community Centers & Volunteer Work at Emilia’s UPA Organization
“Being a nursing
major at Regis, it’s really hard to have a study abroad experience. However,
this trip has made that a possibility. I have had an opportunity to take
classes in a country that is different from my own, speak Spanish to
Argentinians, and explore the wonders that the city of Mendoza has to offer.
The food is great, the people are lovely, and the siesta is amazing. I have met
many people on this trip and made many friends along the way. Nothing brings
people closer together than a new experience and helping a community in any way
Eileen, Regis Student
Our second community engagement project on day 4 was assisting a local church volunteer organization, UPA, prepare and deliver food and clothing to the Plaza San Martín, a weekly meeting point for serving hot and wholesome food to homeless and low income families. This is community in action, and it was a powerful experience for all of us – students, faculty, and administrators – to be able to take part in understanding that we can all take action in small or large ways to help our communities, near and far.
After a weekend of settling in with cultural activities,
getting acclimated, and touring, the work began on day three when we headed to
CONIN, a local nonprofit community center and community clinic that work with
area families, mainly mothers and children, affected by reduced resources, malnourishment
and food scarcity. Our group was separated into two groups which each visited
both the community center and the clinic, and held workshops with our culinary
nutrition, public health and nursing faculty and students covering general nutrition,
practical tips for increasing nutrition, and sanitation and hand washing. Our
students worked with some of the mothers and members of the CONIN community to
make a health cookie in one group, and in the other did a series of hand
washing games and then shined a black light on people’s hands to see if any germs
or bacteria were present. It was awesome to see our students and faculty
working together with the CONIN mothers making the cookie recipe in Spanish!
The other group had fun spotlighting how bacteria spreads easily from one
person to another – even after hand washing!
“What strikes me
most is how quickly connections are made—between students, between our US
students and their host mothers. We are very different in our history, but we
strive to bring our futures together. Seeing this connection just blows me
away. There are things we can learn that we cannot teach, and this would be an
example of this. To see the perspective of our students (and instructors)
change by experiencing and seeing things in this environment makes this so
worth it.“ ~ Will, JWU Faculty
After the first night with homestay families, the group got
up well before 8:00am to meet at U Congreso for a trip into the Lavalle Desert,
about an hour and a half away from the city of Mendoza. An early start, we were
all really interested in seeing what the region looked like outside of the
city. In our orientation, Betiana had let us know that Mendoza basically is a
city in a desert region – rain only occurring 2-3 times per year and an average
of 230 mm of rainfall per year – yes you
read that correctly! The weather in the morning in this fall moving into winter
period was chilly, so everyone was bundled up.
We met our excellent local guide, Guillermo, who joined our
group to lead us through the desert on a hike that was approximately 4 hours –
the step-counters in the group were very happy! We learned that the desert
where we were hiking is actually a national park and that families also live
there. The landscape, once outside the city, changes to lots of dry sandy earth
and small scrub bushes and trees -almost mono-chromatic, with the browns and greens blending into each
other. Our hike ended at the part of the park that had some huge sand dunes and
the intrepid members of the group – a
few students, faculty, and staff – went rolling down the steepest dune in a
sand explosion – likely they are STILL finding sand in different places!
Once we all got the sand out of our shoes we boarded our bus and made the short trip to a local restaurant to have an excellent meal of empanadas, salad, beef stew, and goat. Delicious! While we ate, there was a musician and some local dancers entertaining the crowd with old Argentinian favorites. The group took a tour around the village after the meal and then headed back into the city for a quiet evening with the homestay families and homework.
”After arriving in the middle of the night and dropping off the students at a hostel, I was not sure what to expect in a few hours when we all got together with the Argentinian students and faculty. I must say, to my surprise everyone was refreshed and smiling after only 6 hours of rest.
our in-country orientation and off we went to tour the city. If was great
seeing the American and Argentinian students talking and mixing together.
Before I knew it we were back at the university so the students could meet
their host parents. During this cocktail hour I had the chance to sit back,
take pictures, and reflect on how we got to this point. It was a great feeling
seeing everyone smiling, hugging, and having a great time.
that there is a little more stress going on a program as an administrator
because I was the person that helped design the program, “sell” the
program to those in the room, and if something goes wrong or if they don’t
enjoy it I failed. However, telling by the smiles we are off to a good start!” ~
David, Regis Administrator
After a brief overnight, the group met at the Universidad de
Congreso to meet our Argentinian contingent in-person. The first part of the
day was an on-site orientation, reviewing the schedule, talking about safety, local
customs, and more. A tour of the city of
Mendoza came next, winding through the various sections and parks spread out
across the city. The tour was followed a fantastic reception so that the
students could meet their Argentinian host families!
Here’s some thoughts from our participants on the first few days – Pictures to follow!
The culture difference between our countries is
striking. I think the part that stuck out for me most is my lack of Spanish
skills. It really makes me want to learn Spanish. While I always wanted to
learn Spanish, I’m really inspired to do it. I’m excited that this trip is going
to jumpstart it! ~ Cassie, Regis College
So far this experience has been amazing. Starting in Boston, to a
layover in Panama to arriving 15 hours later to Mendoza Argentina, it has been
a true cultural experience. Getting to meet the students along with faculty
from Universidad de Congreso and homestay families from Mendoza has been more
than I ever expected. My homestay mother has truly made me feel like I am at home
even 5,000 miles away from Boston. Although it has only been two days and we
still have a ways to go, I have already learned so much about this culture and
about myself through this experience and I can’t wait for what’s next! ~ Kristina, Regis