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3 posts from July 2014

07/24/2014

Spring & Summer 2014, Issue II

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As the Spring and Summer sessions come to an end, we’d like to close with a few highlights of some of the programs we have hosted for the last few weeks and months. Students from the Liberal Arts program had the chance to travel to three unique destinations around the country. The Community Public Health students went to distinct points in Argentina and Uruguay to do field work, and we share testimonials straight from them. And the Summer Spanish Language students immersed themselves deeply into the culture and language of Buenos Aires. 

Liberal Arts – Trips trips trips!

Tilcara, Jujuy, April 3-6, 2014

In early April, the students spent 4 days and 3 nights in Tilcara, Jujuy Province, at an altitude of 2,400 meters, immersing themselves in the past and present of the Andean world and discovering a culture completely distinct from that of Buenos Aires.

Jujuy Province is located in the north of the country, where Argentina borders both Bolivia and Chile. Within the town of Tilcara, one can encounter the Quebrada de Humahuaca, a dry and narrow mountain valley representative of southern Andean valleys. It has an extraordinary set of routes, which serve as the most important physical link between the Andean highlands and the large plains of southeastern South America. 

The Quebrada de Humahuaca, which was recently declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, conserves its natural environment; boasts hundreds of archaeological and architectural sites; and, has a culture that maintains its unique traditional customs.

The Past and Present of the Andean World is a seminar developed in conjunction with the Tilcara Interdisciplinary Institute under the umbrella of the University of Buenos Aires. Accompanied by anthropologists and archaeologists from UBA, the students visited different archeological sites and historic towns, where they were given onsite discussions. The seminar was a great opportunity to learn about the history of the Andean world and the lifestyles of the inhabitants.

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On their arrival, the students visited the Museo Arquelógico Dr. Eduardo Casanova, where they viewed temporary exhibitions and permanent exhibitions demonstrating the objects found during archaeologists’ excavations. The museum prepared them for their visit the next day to the Pucará de Tilcara, one of the most important archaeological sites in the Quebrada de Humahuaca. Students learned about the reconstruction of the town, the lifestyles of its residents, construction methods and ceremonial rituals.

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As the days progressed, the students traveled to higher altitudes. The visit to the Pucará was followed by the historic city of Humahuaca. Humahuaca is characterized by its charming colonial architecture and is located at an altitude of 2,800 meters. There, the students learned about the Spanish influence in the area and past artistic movements.

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The final day of activities included an excursion to Salinas Grandes and Purmamarca.  At one point, the students reached 4,000 meters of height! Salinas Grandes was a vast lake that, over the years, has become an endless sea of salt, providing for an excellent backdrop to take breathtaking photos.

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On their return to the city, the students stopped by the picturesque village of Purmamarca, known for its Cerro de los Siete Colores.

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After one last dinner in Tilcara, the students departed for Buenos Aires!

El Palmar, Entre Ríos, April 9-11, 2014

In Spring 2014, the field trip funded entirely by the program was to the Province of Entre Ríos, located north of the City of Buenos Aires. In Entre Ríos, students enjoyed the nature and had the chance to visit distinct cultural and historic locations nearby.

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We started off the first day of the trip with adventurous excursions. As soon as the students reached their hostel, La Aurora del Palmar, they settled down to have lunch and then went kayaking and horseback riding through the vast fields that surround the hostel. 

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The second day, the students visited Palacio San José, the residence of deceased Justo José de Urquiza, Provisional Director of the Argentine Confederation and Governor of the Province of Entre Ríos. The palace’s architecture combines an Italian style with that of the classical Argentine derived from Spanish colonial times. 

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The palace took nine years to construct and was finished in 1857. The work was carried out by an architect, sculptors, carvers, blacksmiths, painters and gardeners, whom were all brought from overseas to work on this construction. The main floor has 38 large rooms, surrounded by two beautiful courtyards. It also has a chapel and a pigeon house that can hold up to 650 pigeons. The palace even has an artificial lake where past residents could do light sailing.

The palace also serves as a historic site for several events that occurred in Argentina’s history, including the assassination of General Urquiza. Students were able to walk into the bedroom where the murder occurred and observed the bullet holes in the walls. The park of the palace is also where the new National Constitution was sworn in.

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After shopping for souvenirs, the students headed back to the hostel for a warm dinner and a lovely bonfire, where they played games, sang, danced and looked at the stars.

On their way back to Buenos Aires the next day, the students took a stop in Colonia Hocker to have lunch at Almacén Don Leandro. Colonia Hocker is a small Jewish gaucho town with a population of about 80 residents. At Almacén Don Leandro, the students enjoyed a delicious parrilla, enjoying every kind of meat, and accompanied by live regional music.

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La Ciudad de Mendoza, Mendoza, May 29-June 2, 2014

Mendoza Province borders Chile and is world renowned for its production of wines and for its panoramic mountain landscapes. We decided to include it as an optional trip for being one of the most popular destinations for the students that visit Argentina.

After landing, having lunch and settling into their hotel, the students got up on horses and went riding into the sunset with a beautiful view of the mountains surrounding them. They were able to get in touch with the nature that the west of the country boasts. After horseback riding, the students enjoyed an asado (barbeque) and a toasty bonfire.      

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The students spent the next day taking tours of the wineries at the foot of the Andes Mountains and enjoyed their share of delicatessen, including a picnic in the gardens of the Lagarde winery. Mendoza boasts over 1,200 wineries that produce almost 10 million hectoliters of wine per year, making it the wine capital of South America.

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It produces and exports wine to several countries, particularly its distinctive variety, Malbec. Thus, apart from wine tasting, students learned about the processes of planting, harvesting and processing grapes. They enjoyed the countryside aromas of the grapes, cherries, peaches and other vegetables and fruits.

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On their last day in Mendoza, the students trekked through the Andes, visiting the Cerro Aconcagua, about 15 kilometers from the border of Chile. Aconcagua, one of the Seven Summits, is the highest mountain in the Western and Southern Hemispheres and it reaches almost 7,000 meters.

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To sum it all up, the students got to experience a little bit of everything on their trip. Most of all, they enjoyed the heart of Mendoza, a land that provides a truly unique experience.

Community Public Health – Field Work

The Summer Community Public Health students had the wonderful opportunity to fulfill about a month’s worth of field work at several sites in both Argentina and Uruguay, including Olavarría in the Province of Buenos Aires; Concepción de Uruguay in Entre Ríos; and, Montevideo, the capital of Uruguay. The students visited health centers in each of the locations and worked on their distinct public health issues, such as social health determinants, infrastructure, health systems, pollution, use of tobacco, access to medication, reproductive health, water quality, and nutrition, among others. working conditions of undocumented migrant workers, etc.

Below we share pictures and a few testimonials and pictures from students!

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“My fieldwork experience in Olavarría was one of the most valuable and rewarding experiences of my life. We had the unique opportunity to work closely with the health teams as they offered primary care to the residents of the community. It was amazing to witness how the medical team truly knew the patients and understood their individual contexts to provide the best care, rather than only focusing on the biological aspects of sickness. I am looking forward to being able to apply what I've learned from this experience and these incredible individuals to my work in the future.” –Lena Law

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During our field work we worked in the local health centers learning about the rights and  options for care offered to women before during and after pregnancy. We also assisted the faculty of these health centres in educating local school children about sexual health and nutrition, creating presentations and getting them actively involved in learning how to care for themselves and lead more healthy lives. Overall it was a wonderful experience, really rewarding and eye opening for me. -John Davison

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“Through my fieldwork experience I was able to catch a glimpse of Argentina's system of public healthcare, the good and the bad. I was also able to meet some wonderful individuals and friends who truly enriched my experience in Argentina, and I certainly hope that some of them will visit the U.S. in the future. Without the fieldwork in Concepción, I never would have been able to see the public healthcare system working in the context of a small town.” –Christine Donat

"For my field work I went to Montevideo to learn about politics related to public health in a few areas: sexual diversity, accessibility for the disabled, and the recent legalization of marijuana in Uruguay. Having previously had vey little experience with politics or law, this field work was particularly eye-opening for me. I particularly loved learning about the creative ways to create a more inclusive society for the disabled population, which makes up 10% of Uruguay's total population. I look forward to sharing everything I learned in Uruguay with my parents, professors, and friends back in the U.S." –Danielle Melgar

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Summer Spanish Language – Immersion

Apart from studying the language intensively, the Summer Spanish Language students have been participating in a number of cultural activities. In fact, on July 4-6, they took an overnight trip to Montevideo, Uruguay and Colonia, Uruguay. Check out the pictures below!

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Come back soon to read our special edition newsletter with highlights on our 20th Anniversary!

07/21/2014

"Tour of Palacio Barolo" by Richelle Jurasek, Occidental College

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On one of the rainiest days that we have seen thus far in Buenos Aires, Karlyn, Katie and I caught a misty glimpse of the city from the 22nd floor of the famous Palacio Barolo on Avenida de Mayo. We were guided up the palace by a sweet Argentine tour guide, making frequent stops to learn about the history of this historic building located in the city center. Designed by Luis Barolo and built by Mario Palanti between 1919 and 1923, the Palacio Barolo was built as a tribute to Palanti’s Italian compatriot, Dante Alighieri and his Divine Comedy.  Through both decorative and functional design traits, the building conveys the union between Dante and Beatriche, the two protagonists of the work. 

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The design of the building is incredibly complex and detailed. Architecturally, it is a confluence of Venetian Gothic design and religious images from India. The colors of the tiles that form circles on the ground floor are red, white, and green, the colors of the Italian flag. The 22 floors of the building are divided into three sections that reference the Divine Comedy, the ground floor representing el Infierno (hell), the first 14 floors, el Purgatorio (purgatory), and the following floors that lead to the top, el Paraíso (paradise). At the very top of the left-side tower, is the great faro light that holds 300,000 bujías (light power) and represents God. This enormous revolving searchlight is a beacon to Palacio Salvo in Montevideo, Uruguay, also constructed by Palanti. With their faro lights, the two palaces welcome travelers entering the Rio de la Plata by the sea, almost serving as concrete lighthouses. Back inside the building, the black and white tiles on the many floors represent the duality between good and evil, another recurring theme in the Comedy.

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The highlight of our tour were the incredible views that we saw from the both the 14th floor and the faro room. At 100 meters, Palacio Barolo held the title of the tallest building in the city until the construction of the Kavanaugh in 1935. Gazing out towards the left, el Congreso Nacional and its surrounding parks light up the skyline, encircled by the many recent skyscrapers that now give the palace a run for its money. To the right, the glowing pink lights of the Casa Rosada demand attention, and a little farther away is the building that depicts the face of Evita Peron. Despite the wind and the rain, we stepped out onto the balconies to take in this incredible sight, snapping pictures and standing in amazement at the beautiful night sky.

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At the top of the tower, our tour guide turned on the faro, and we were instantly blinded by the powerful light. We learned that every 25th day of each month, the light is turned on to honor the patria and the independence of the country. It can be seen circling from miles around, reflecting in the night sky and the clouds. As usually is the case, our pictures do not do this magnificent palace justice, and we are very thankful to have had the opportunity to see the city from this unique perspective, especially being in a place filled with so much history.

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07/18/2014

"Tango Show at Esquina Homero Manzi" by Karlyn Gehring, Oberlin College

Being in the land of Tango, we had been dying to see a professional show since arriving in Buenos Aires.  However, we were glad that we waited until we had a better grasp of the history of the dance and its music, as well as some experience engaging with tango in the city.  Richelle attended several tango dance lessons at la Viruta, and I took weekly dance lessons at Rojas Cultural Center, plus played violin in the Tango orchestra at IUNA musicales, the local art university.  Furthermore, tango was consistently referenced in our classes, which allowed us to further appreciate the magnificent show we saw at Esquina Homero Manzi, a famous tango café in San Telmo.

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Homero Manzi was an influential composer and poet of tango and milonga.  In fact, he composed “Barrio de Tango,” which I played with my orchestra at IUNA in my most recent concert.  The café represented the barrio San Telmo perfectly, complete with the feeling of tradition and antiquity.  Inside, the walls were covered in photos of past guests, such as Evita Peron, and the tables were set immaculately, suggesting the prestige of the café.  With a friendly welcome, we were sat at a table directly in front of the stage and given the fixed menu of the night, which consisted of an “aperitivo de bienvenido” (sherry and a baby empanada) and choices of entradas, platos principales, and yummy helado for dessert.

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The show alternated between dancing and singing, with a live tango orchestra to accompany.  All of the dances were beautifully choreographed, although some appeared more improvised than others and more like how we were taught to tango. It was interesting to compare the different styles of music and dance—milongas, tangos, and waltzes, and because we now had some background after living in Buenos Aires for several months, we were able to distinguish these components during the show.

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We also enjoyed the variety of duets, solo dances and group choreography, as well as the elaborate costumes and the use of props.  I was also able to recognize many of the songs from my repertoire at IUNA and compare the differences in how they were performed and improvised, which greatly enhanced the experience.  All in all, we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves celebrating the 4th of July Argentina style, empanadas and all!

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