Pauline Crepy - Human Rights in Argentina
Travelling alone for my first time to an unknown country was honestly terrifying. For weeks prior to leaving, I worried about awkward encounters with my host family, not making friends quickly and feeling stressed with a lot of work at the office and not enough time visiting Argentina. However, my time in Argentina ended up being one of the most memorable and important two weeks of my life as it affirmed my passion for human rights and law, and pushed me to choose international relations as my major in college.
I arrived in Argentina at four in the morning and met one of my roommates as soon as I landed. We became quick friends, and I soon realised that the people that I would meet through Projects Abroad were all similar to me; we craved adventure, we wanted to make a difference and we wanted to experience new things. We were tired from our extremely long flights, but were so excited for this experience to begin that we couldn’t stop talking.
From the airport, we were taken to our host families by taxi, which were by far one of my favourite memories of Argentina. Taxis were where we could speak directly to real Argentinian people. By speaking to the drivers, we understood the Argentinian culture and their way of life. They were extremely kind and funny.
Volunteering in Argentina
As we arrived at our host family’s home, Ileana greeted us with excitement and told us that she would most likely be sleeping when we woke up and that we could help ourselves in her kitchen. The next morning, we woke up and made breakfast and met our two new roommates. We felt at home, and for the following two weeks, dinners at home felt comforting.
Work in the office was extremely fun as well. Because of my fluency in Spanish, I was a bit scared that I would have to be forced to go to Spanish classes. However, the Projects Abroad staff was extremely accommodating and I was asked to work directly with the office to help with their work with the homeless. Every day we also worked with other older volunteers who organised human rights and international law games with us. We became close with the staff and had a lot of fun in the office.
One of my favourite memories was going to the office on a cold morning and being greeted with freshly baked croissants from a bakery down the street. The staff was always extremely comforting and we always felt at home. Everything was done to make us feel welcomed.
A couple of my highlights during my stay in Argentina were the mock trial that we had. We prepared for multiple days during the two weeks and had to work on it a little bit on our free time at home, but it was a lot of fun. Working together as a team and our friendly competition, made my roommates and I a lot closer.
However, my most memorable and heartfelt experience in the Human Rights and Law project in Argentina was working with Argentinian organisations such as Fundacion Ganas and Basta de Trata. All seven of the high school students in my group cooked a meal for the homeless and then gave it out to them at night. It was so amazing to see these people so thankful for their lives and so gentle and kind with us. I have never in my life met people as sweet and generous as they were. The men waited until all the women and children were done being served; by complete choice. It was heart-warming and made me much more sensible. We also visited girls’ institutions where we played games with younger girls that had been abused at home or had been abandoned.
The staff was extremely kind and worked really hard to create a sense of community between all the students in the high school program. In our social events, we all joined together and became extremely close, regardless of what our projects were.
Overall, thanks to Projects Abroad, I have met lifelong friends and have memories and experience that I will never forget. I was able to understand the culture of Argentina and take a small step to bettering our world. It has made me a much more sensible and thoughtful person and I can’t wait until I do it again.