Anna Hori – Human Rights & Spanish High School Special in Argentina
When I was looking for summer programmes, I knew that I really wanted to travel abroad to a Spanish-speaking country. I enjoy travelling and have been taking Spanish in school, and I felt that travelling could help improve my Spanish even more. I also knew that I really wanted to be involved in the community and do something that would really make a difference. After doing some research, I found that this programme would be perfect. I would be taking Spanish lessons, living with a host family and getting to do valuable work in law and human rights. I excitedly applied and after getting in, I spent several long months waiting to go to Argentina.
My host family
When I finally arrived, I was not quite sure where I would be living and I was somewhat worried about living with a host family, a completely new experience for me. However, my doubts were quickly erased and living with a host family ended up being an excellent experience. From the moment I stepped through the door, my host mom was very welcoming to me. Upon our arrival, she immediately had an entire meal ready for us. Over the next month, she always provided us with delicious food and anything else we needed. She also went out of her way to make us feel at home, from sharing funny videos that she had found to answering our questions about Argentinian culture and life.
In addition to my host mom, I also lived with three other students in my programme, as well as three college students who were interning abroad and two students who were in the two-week programme. All of us had an excellent time together and since we were from several different countries, I also got to learn about their local cultures.
One of my favourite memories from the trip was when we all went swimming in the pool, despite it being the middle of winter in Argentina. Our host mom’s family regularly came to visit and we enjoyed talking with them, particularly about music and sports. On one of the days, we even performed our favourite American and French music for them.
My Human Rights placement
Throughout my time in Argentina, we were very busy with our work. We had three main jobs. The first of them was working with at-risk kids in a residential care centre, Medio Camino. Our second job was working with the homeless at ReencontrArte. Our third job was learning about the history of human rights, particularly in Argentina.
We visited Medio Camino several times throughout the duration of our trip. It was a new experience for me and I really loved getting to know the boys and playing several games with them over the course of the month. Another one of the days that was very special to me was going to the movies with them for our final farewell. After the movie, several of the boys and several of the volunteers shared their experiences and expressed gratitude for having had the opportunity to get to know one another. This moment was, in my opinion, an excellent way to summarise this difficult but satisfying work.
We also got the opportunity to work with the homeless people of Cordoba. We went to ReencontrArte every Wednesday. This is an organisation that works to give the homeless back their dignity through the arts. We got to spend time getting to know each other while also doing art, theatre or music. This was also a new experience for me and I really loved that we got to know them as individuals.
One of my favourite memories from my trip was one of the days I spent at ReencontrArte, getting to really talk to one man in particular as we worked together to create a painting of several animals. In addition to this, we also spent one night working with another NGO and we got the opportunity to cook for and serve around 300 homeless people, which was another phenomenal experience.
The final aspect of our project was learning more about human rights, particularly about the dictatorship period in Argentina. We also got to visit two detention centres from that period, which was an eye-opening experience. In addition, we got to have a meeting with a survivor from one of the camps and I loved having the opportunity to hear him speak about his experiences.
Throughout our stay, the Projects Abroad staff were very welcoming, helpful and supportive. Each morning we were picked up by our coordinator, taken to the office to prepare for our day and taken to our work, ready to make a difference. The staff checked in on us regularly to make sure that we were happy and comfortable and we could always talk to them if we needed anything.
In addition to helping us when we needed anything (from questions about our placement or accommodation to simply needing more shampoo), the staff were always available. They really made an effort to get to know us as people, taking an interest in our backgrounds, passions and quirks. The staff really made sure that we were comfortable in Argentina and ready to make a difference on the project.
My free time
Furthermore, the staff also provided us with many exciting opportunities outside of our work. Each weekend we had different activities, including beautiful hikes, a visit to a local village where we toured a chocolate factory, a visit to Che Guevara’s house, and a night at a haunted museum. Throughout each week, we also had several fun activities planned for all of us, including dancing lessons, cooking classes and a karaoke night.
In conclusion, I would definitely recommend this trip and I cannot speak more highly of it! I loved my accommodation, my placement and all of our extracurricular activities. This was an excellent month and I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Argentina.