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4 posts from April 2013

04/24/2013

Student testimony: helping at Barrio Mitre Community Center

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By: Jackson Monzon -Hood College. 

With bags of clothes, food and guitars strapped to our backs we entered into the Barrio Mitre Community Centre. Upon entering the centre, we saw dozens of water bottles, cleaning supplies, and other donations being organized by a handful of volunteers. Our work began with a discussion and detailed briefing of the history and mission of the centre given by Patricia, a veteran volunteer. We were told of the prejudices the children of the neighborhood face at the schools they attend, the scarce medical attention the neighborhood receives, and - most surprising of all - the effects of the massive flood which occurred 2 weeks ago. Patricia explained to us that underneath the neighborhood is a creek which floods during heavy storms and causes sewer systems to malfunction. "The creek was cleaned a while back, an old corroded car was removed and the flooding stopped for a while," she explained. Sadly, however, she pointed out that the Dot Baires Shopping Centre has been responsible for the most recent flooding of the neighborhood, but not the first time. Other flooding occurred in the month of December when Barrio Mitre flooded 3 times.

The shopping centre, situated on the hill above the neighborhood, empties its water pump into the underground creek and causes it to flood. The steep incline of the hill makes the situation much worse; upon descending from the mall you'd swear it was a mountain. When you come face to face with the neighborhood, you see that the houses are made of brick with no outer protection, the streets are bare without any pavement, and exists in the shadow of the 5-story shopping. The floodwaters that drowned the neighborhood were not the same ones that the television stations broadcasted, but rather, "water from the septic tanks, backed up sewer systems. It was water that damaged many personal possessions," exclaimed Patricia. She brought to our attention that many people in the neighborhood lost schoolbooks, official documents, and even their own beds. Her accounts of the flood victims were heartbreaking and eye-opening glimpses into the tragic series of events during the flooding in early April. It was brought to our attention that the government of the city has not taken the measures to fix the problems plaguing the neighborhood and that the Centre will be seeking reparations from the Dot Baires Shopping Centre and from the government of the city. When leaving the Community Centre, we were able to reflect once more on the conditions of the people in the neighborhood and the differences that are seen on a daily basis between those up on the hill and those down below.

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Patricia Pereira, from Barrio Mitre Community Center


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Jackson Monzon, "hands on"

04/19/2013

Making the difference: students helping at Barrio Mitre Community Center

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During the last week of March, the metropolitan area of Buenos Aires suffered intense storms, producing heavy rains and flooding. As a result of this, the city collapsed and many neighborhoods were seriously damaged. One of the critical areas was the Barrio Mitre neighborhood, on the north side of the city, where Barrio Mitre Community Center, a partner-institution of the Study Center for almost 20 years, is located. Usually, students have the opportunity to develop service learning and volunteer projects there, as one of their most enriching cultural and exchange experiences abroad.

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This time, we want to share our last visit there. We carried the donations we've received for this center that was seriously damaged by the recent flooding. The campaign was truly a success! We collected tons of food, clothes, and school supplies. Additionally, we donated some musical instruments, on behalf of the whole CIEE community, to replace the ones destroyed by the flooding. Thanks to the efforts of everybody involved, we were able to buy 3 guitars and 2 piano-keyboards.  We know for sure they will make them very happy!

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Afterwards, students and staff participating helped on the classification of the donations, along with many other recovery tasks for the center. Before finishing the activity, we spent time debriefing and exchanging with the community center staff and volunteers, learning more about this terrible tragedy, but committing to repeat a similar campaign in the near future. Next time, we’ll be collecting toys for the kids to celebrate their Kids Day, right before the spring semester ends.

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We’d like to thank you all for your help and support in this regard!


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More Internship opportunities!

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We'd like to share an exciting new opportunity with the BA Study Center: a new internship in movies and cinema!

Starting this semester, we'll offer the students the possibility to work with one of the most prestigious magazines devoted to cinema and world literature, Letra Celuloide. Even though the ideal candidates for this internship are the LA students, we will also include other summer and/or URGD students, according to their profile and interests.

The objective of this internship is to give the opportunity to those students interested in cinema to write reviews about movies showing in Buenos Aires. These reviews will be published both in the paper and the online versions of the magazine.  Additionally, the whole experience will be supervised by Juan Tollo (Student and Community Engagement Coordinator), and Dr. Hernan Sassi, Professor of the CIEE course New Latin American and Argentine Cinema, will be in charge of content supervision.

As many of you might remember, this week started the 15th edition of the world famous BAFICI, the Buenos Aires independent movie festival. Therefore, it will provide an amazing opportunity for the students to watch first hand some of those movies that will impact the global cultural scene.

Finally, we think it's important to highlight how this new internship opportunity complements the community engagement options the Study Centers offers to the students: The Research Assistance at the National Senate and the Administrative Assistance at AISEC (both internships), the Service Learning Seminar, and the one-day volunteer activities. 

04/05/2013

Parks of Buenos Aires

The city of Buenos Aires is recognized for its beautiful-green spaces, scattered all around the city. The European design of many of them reminds the belle époque times, at the time the modern design of many others shows another face of this vibrant cosmopolitan city.

During the first weekend, all the students participated in a typical porteño activity: to enjoy the afternoon in one of the many beautiful parks of the city. We selected three emblematic parks: Parque Centenario, Parque Las Heras, and Plaza Vicente López. The objective of this activity was multiple: first, to make a practical exercise of navigating the city; second, to develop a cultural workshop aimed to work on the housing expectations and how to deal with the differences; and last, to enjoy a warm afternoon in a more natural setting.

During the first day of orientation, students learned how to travel around the city using public transportation. The day after, students were accompanied by their host families to the study center, and then every student coordinator led his or her group to a different park, practicing by this way how to use the public transportation with a concrete travelling experience of navigating the city. As a result of this, some students took the metro to Parque Centenario (located in Villa Crespo), while others took a bus ride to Parque Las Heras (in Palermo). The third group just walked to plaza Vicente López (in Recoleta), realizing how common is to walk around this city.

Once at the parks, and tasting mate for the first time, every group could talk about the housing expectations and the cultural differences related to the family life. The perfect summer day helped created a comfortable atmosphere to develop this interactive workshop. Additionally, the entire resident staff participated in this workshop, enriching the cultural perspectives and learning from each other.

In Jessica García's (Claremont McKenna College) words:

"Managing expectations, a great skill to have that most of us as busy students trying to squeeze every last bit of adventure during our study abroad experience, forget to employ. This is why the great staff of CIEE Buenos Aires created the space that allowed students to candidly express their expectations, which the counselors either encouraged or tempered respectfully and honestly. Set in one of the many beautiful plazas scattered all over Buenos Aires, the group discussion allowed me to air out my fears and worries with regards to cultural faux pas. The discussion helped me feel more at ease about the manner in which I interact with my host family, and everything has been great so far"

 

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