So I haven’t written for awhile (for my blog at least, I’ve definitely been writing a lot) and things are in full swing now!
I received multiple emails from Hugo and my supervisor Juan Pablo. They have been in Spanish, so it’s been a bit difficult to understand entirely because I’m always afraid I’ve missed something. I met with Joanne yesterday to make sure I hadn’t missed anything, and she quelled some of my concerns in that regard. I am definitely living in Quilino, and I will be working in Quilino and Dean Funés with el Centro Cultural Quilindo. I will be working with the local artists, which include my host family.
Some more exciting news is that I will be taking 36 hours of class while I am down there and I will get 3 Spanish language credits! I’m extremely stoked about this because by the end of the summer I will have completed half of the requirements for my minor. So as frustrating as it will be to be speaking Spanish constantly, it will be even more worth my frustrations now.
Also, I FINALLY began my volunteer work! Last week, procrastinators united and Raquel and I motivated each other to start our shifts at St. John’s Kitchen! It was the absolute best experience. I went twice last week, and I was hoping to go again this week but a gazillion papers stopped me. I’m hoping to go back sometime next week. I love it there, everyone is really great to work with and talk to. It was also a good precursor to the type of situation I will be in this summer. When we first got there we didn’t really know what to do. One of the things that first threw me off was first thing in the morning. Raquel had a coffee but couldn’t take it into the Kitchen area so Gretchen asked her to drink it just outside in the eating area. I then followed Gretchen into the kitchen because I had thought she would want some work to get done. However, I got into “trouble” because I didn’t stay outside and keep my friend company. I thought that it was so unheard of! In any other jobs I’ve worked in if you chose socializing with friends over work then you made a bad decision. From speakers that have come to my classes that have worked in volunteer positions abroad and others I have learned that it is common to catch up on each other’s social and family life before you start the day. Also, the more relaxed environment was something I am anticipating this summer. If you weren’t comfortable or even didn’t want to do one of the jobs that Gretchen suggested she would let you take a break or do something more attuned to your needs and wants. My favourite part is serving lunch, because I get to say “Hi” to everyone who comes through. I also liked on our first day when we took lunch. Raquel and I sat with two older gentlemen and learned a lot of...life lessons (I suppose they could be called). It was really amusing. I love it there and I plan on going as a procrastination tool during exam period even after my hours are done.
One of the other aspects about my volunteer experience thus far is how welcoming and kind everyone was even though I was only there because “I had to be”. One of my biggest fears all term, which kept getting worse as I tried to avoid it even longer, was being stigmatized for only being there because it was a requirement of the program. I really did want to be there and learn but I wish it had been on my own terms so that I didn’t feel so guilty. I didn’t receive any such stigmatism at all though, and that made me love St. John’s even more. They don’t judge against anyone and I think that’s very admirable.
I did my placement presentation on Monday which means over the last couple of weeks I was doing a lot of research about Argentina and my placement. It was really interesting. One thing that I have been craving information on is the state terrorism in the 1970’s. Being a political science student and having such a desire to learn about cultures, I find it fascinating that Argentina was on the same track as Canada and Australia in terms of development in the early 1900’s but because of the shift in its political system changed completely and is considered a developing country. I am reading a book called, God’s Assassins about the political systems in Argentina that led to the approximately 30 000 Argentines that “disappeared” during a military dictatorship in the 1970’s and early 1980’s.
Well that’s all I can think of for now,
PS Check out some of the cool artwork my host mum did! This is one of Joanne's photos from her trip there this December (just to make sure credit is given where due)