Extra! Read All About It!
The New Argentine Cinema class took a trip to National University of Avellaneda.
Forward by Hernán Sassi, Professor
The students in the Program, along with taking classes with CIEE, can go to local public (UBA, IUNA) and private (UCA) universities. But in these spaces, contact with native students is just that, contact; mostly circumstantial and fleeting, in some cases merely visual, and in others a pleasant chat, book recommendation or suggestion of a well-known cultural outing.
As professor for the seminar “New Argentine Cinema in the Latin American Context,” for CIEE, and as professor of “Argentine Social History” in the Journalism track at the National University of Avellaneda (UNDAV), I wanted to give students who come from different university cultures an opportunity that would allow them to connect with one another as true peers, and would open the door for the most sincere exchange possible. From this idea came the visits to UNDAV in general, and, most recently, the exchange between my CIEE film students and my UNDAV journalism students.
On November 14, 16 students from the New Argentine Cinema course visited UNDAV, a public university located in the suburbs. The most important thing about this visit, aside from giving students a chance to experience an alternative geography than the urban ecosystem they are used to, is that the students not only shared cultural and academic experiences, but they could also build understanding among themselves, as they worked in groups on bibliographic and audiovisual materials that had been prepared ad hoc in both syllabi.
Dividing up students into small groups from the start (with 2-3 US students and 2-3 native students per group) created a very intimate, natural exchange. That was the secret to success in this trip. Such enthusiasm was produced by this initial intimate interaction, that even once time was up for the class, and even after they all ate lunch together for more than an hour, the groups continued to chat in various spaces in the university for two more hours.
Doctoral Professor of Literature (UBA).
Faculty Member, Culture and Communication (UBA).
Anya Rose, Swarthmore College, Class of 2016
I really enjoyed the opportunity to speak with UNDAV students about their experiences in university and living in and around Buenos Aires. They were incredibly friendly and nice. They also were very patient with our Spanish. I really like discussing the differences in our university experiences. In addition to comparing university in the US and Argentina, our group discussion helped me to understand the cultural differences between different universities within Argentina because we were able to compare UNDAV to UCA, IUNA, and UBA.
Devin Malone, Allegheny College, Class of 2016
The visit to UNDAV last Friday was a great experience in which I learned a lot about a totally different university. I loved talking with the students about their loves and seeing the differences between our lives. In my group, we talked a lot about school and the different lifestyles, those de the students at UNDAV and those of Exchange students from the U.S. Even more, UNDAV is very different than UBA where I attend a class, therefore I had the opportunity to experience another option for students in Argentina. Journalism is a subject that I do not know much about, and I really enjoyed listening about the work in the university.
Ariella Wolfe, University of Oregon, Class of 2015
Our visit to the National University of Avellaneda was fun, engaging, and opened my mind quite a bit in general. The opportunity to visit another university outside of the city and also get the chance to talk and make friends was great, and I feel fortunate to have been able to participate in the visit. Above all, it surprised me how easy it was to talk freely with our new classmates and how genuinely interested both groups seemed in asking questions and listening to the responses. I thought it was productive that we had the time to talk about our everyday lives and our experiences in the university as well as to have a section of time to learn more theoretically about access to higher education and our studies in film and history. I only would have like to have learned more about the topics that the other students focused on their history class, because I find that period of history interesting. During the break, some of the students took our little group on a tour of the building, which was nice. At the end of the exchange, I left with some new friends (we found each other on Facebook) and it would be awesome to take the opportunity to stay in contact with them. I also had a proud moment when some of the students told me that they thought I spoke almost perfect Spanish (even though I know I still have a lot of practicing to do). When we finally got to the Audiovisual Arts building I think we all were pretty sleepy since we had woken up at 7am. In any case, for how small the building was in general the studios that the students used to practice their work were very impressive. I would have liked the opportunity to talk with some of the Audiovisual Arts students as well, but I guess that we will just have to save that for next time.
Jasper Miller-Patterson, Wesleyan University, Class of 2016
It was a fascinating experience, to witness firsthand the functioning of an Argentine school distinct from any other I have seen thus far. With a more engaged and intimate setting—the students, you can see, are all familiar and friendly with one another, and comfortable in the classroom—it was easy to feel at ease, even as a visitor. When we chatted together, the students were particularly sociable and helped guide the conversations (something which, at a school in the United States, would have failed awkwardly), and struck upon some interesting perspectives. There were distinct overlaps in certain areas between the UNDAV students and ourselves, in terms of pop culture, sports, the arts, etc.; while our own knowledge of many of these aspects of Argentine culture was absent until our arrival in Buenos Aires, their knowledge of the United States was much deeper in comparison. Another thing that struck me was when one UNDAV student said he considered English to be a “beautiful language”. I myself have never thought of English as a particularly attractive language, and as my grasp of Spanish has improved I’ve even begun to find it a bit ugly. This difference of opinion, I suppose, speaks to how much a difference of linguistic backgrounds can shape the perceptions and perspectives of the mind, even in regards to the aesthetics of language itself. It was, as a whole, interesting to see the difference of composure, in the students and in the school, in contrast with my own university.