On Friday, June 14, the Liberal Arts and URGD students participated in art workshops at the Centro Conviven community center in the Mataderos neighborhood. The students divided up in two groups: a photography workshop and a guitar workshop. In the photography workshop, the professor showed and did exercises with the images of Argentine photographer, Leandro Piñeiro. In the guitar workshop, they prepared a song, called “Costumbres Argentinas”, that they sang while we had tea.
It was a great afternoon for cultural exchange!
These are some pictures that the students took during the photo workshop:
Last year, the CIEE Study Center Buenos Aires hosted a traditional American feast – Thanksgiving dinner – in order to not only celebrate this holiday, but also to bring together American and Argentine cuisine potluck style. This year, on May 23, we held a similar potluck feast, this time celebrating the important Argentine holiday, the Semana de Mayo (May 18 – 25), which celebrates the moment when Argentina declared itself independent from Spain in 1810. This important holiday, like our Thanksgiving, is also an important culinary occasion, featuring typical Argentine foods, like empanadas, locro (a hearty thick stew) and pastelitos (a sweet pastry). This event, like Thanksgiving, intended to bring together two distinct cultures by sharing conversation, celebration, and, of course, delicious foods. The best way to get to know a new place is through its food!
Last Friday, on a night with a full moon and great weather, three
friends and I went to the Chacarita neighborhood to have dinner at the “closed
door” restaurant called “Casa Felix”.
The chef, Diego Felix, met us at 9:30 p.m. at the door to his private
home and showed us the rooms and garden.
Diego chatted with us about the plants and herbs that he grows in the
garden and uses in his cocktails and food.
He then served us a cocktail made of sage from the garden while we talked
with the other guests who numbered no more than ten people. Then we went to the patio, which was
semi-covered with trees and vines, to eat dinner.
The first dish was a warm fontina cheese,
wrapped in chayote leaves and coated with chañar syrup. The crispy leaves and sweet sauce combined
with the warm cheese to make an incredible flavor. Per the chef’s suggestion, we ordered a
bottle of white wine that is typical of the Salta region and was a perfect
accompaniment to the botana and salad that followed the cheese.
The botana was a sugarcane-syrup glazed
shrimp over mbeyú, which were topped with a green apple and burrito guacamole,
yellow chile aioli, and fennel. Diego
explained that the mbeyú, a starchy cake, is very typical of Paraguay and that
a lot of the inspiration for his food comes from that
country. He also told me that Mexico and
Peru are two other very important sources of inspiration for his cooking, as
they both have rich, pre-Columbian culinary histories. The salad was made of fresh greens with
Brazil nuts and herbs. To cleanse the
palate for the main course, the chef served us a cold lemon and pear
The main course was a tamal
with mole sauce, green beans, and mushroom confit. Inside my tamal was fresh fish while my
friends had ordered duck. Following
Diego’s suggestion, we ordered a bottle of red wine from Mendoza to accompany
this course. The cornmeal interior of
the tamal absorbed the mole sauce and combined with the fish to create a
distinct and complex flavor. The dessert
was a filo pastry filled with warm squash accompanied by a mandarin slice and
topped with cream of jasmine flower.
The whole dinner experience lasted about three hours and had a very
intimate ambience. Diego was very nice
and spent a lot of time talking with guests about the food, his personal
history, and his sources of inspiration.
After dinner he talked with us about our studies and experiences in
Buenos Aires so far. The whole night was
incredible and one that I know we will never forget.
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:
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"
closing of my experience here in Buenos Aires, I am happy that I had the
opportunity to work with the Argentine Senate with respect to the reform of the
civil law. Learning another language is so difficult because it isn't a
monolithic process. The truth is that the language I hear in the street is
different than what I hear in the classroom which is different than this legal
language I encountered in my work with the Senate. We don't realize how much
time it took us in our own language to learn these various
"languages" and these different texts.
reason I enjoyed my experience working with the Senate. It offered me a
different opportunity to expand another vocabulary and another
At the same
time that I was learning that "language," more legal and more formal,
I was working with a topic that really interested me, the reform of the civil
code. CIEE gave me the opportunity to learn outside of my courses. I
think that is one of the most important things about my experience in Buenos
Aires. CIEE, as an exchange program, should be trying to provide learning
opportunities outside of the classroom, and they gave me exactly that.
Michael Migiel-Schwartz - Wesleyan University
Working with Senator Filmus´s team this semester was rewarding in a number of
ways. Participating firsthand in Argentine policymaking was invaluable to me as
a Politics major. Not only did my weekly tasks enrich my knowledge of the
Argentine and French Civil code, they also complemented my homework and helped
me improve my research and writing in Spanish. Comparing my findings with the
other interns was also interesting; I never knew that the differences between
Australia, Canada, and France would be so stark. It was at times difficult to
translate laws and articles from French and Spanish, and it was also a
challenge to suggest policies for Argentina based on the French civil code,
considering the social contexts are very different. I felt very supported by
both Diego Filmus and Juan Tollo throughout the semester, which made the
experience all the more enjoyable.
those who love lyrical arts, classical music, and ballet from all over the
world. It is considered to be amongst the five best opera houses in the world
due to its superb acoustics and the architectural value of the building.
this opera house as part of the out-of-class activities developed at the “Advanced
Spanish I: Oral Performance Workshop”. The objective was to get to know this
part of the cultural heritage of our city more deeply.
will find the student productions with their testimonies. (Spanish only)
Professors Guadalupe Molina and
Valeria Scutiero - Spanish
If you want
to know more about the history of this theatre, the recent remodeling, and the
reopening in 2010, we invite you to view this poster.
If you were
delighted with the idea of this visit, we invite you to go through the opera
house through these presentations.
would like to share the outcomes of this site visit through this video.
Palacio Paz and Parque de la memoria are two faces of the same coin. The
first one show us across its architectonic beauty, the rich and oligarchic
Argentine in the end of nineteen century and early twenties. The second, the
wound, still open, of a tragic past linked to state terrorism.
Prof. Francisco Corigliano - Cultural Issues in Argentine History class
It was very
interesting to visit Palacio Paz and el Parque de la Memoria. They are very
different places, and the opportunity to visit both in the same day was
fantastic, because there was a huge contrast between the two that I initially
El Parque de la Memoria left a great
impression on me. Before our trip, I didn’t know what to expect. When we
entered the park, I was immediately affected by the location; it’s perfect.
With the river in the background and the empty space that exists in the park
there is a peaceful feeling along with a feeling of disquiet. The use of space
was employed very effectively for obvious reasons. The idea to chose art as the
medium to remember and represent what happened is fundamental. Because of this,
every person can create his or her own experience and feeling. When we went to
the park, it was a beautiful day. I think if the weather had been bad, the park
would have been haunting.
Similarly, El Palacio Paz left a
great impression on me, but for different reasons. A building like el Palacio
Paz is not very common in Argentina. I loved the woodwork and how the house was
built to throw parties, dance, and to pass the time with friends.
El Parque and el Palacio Paz are
very different places, built by very different people. To me, El Parque screams
“Argentina!” in contrast to Palacio Paz, which has taken the majority of its
elements from Europe and other parts of the world. In spite of its grand splendor
and beauty, el Palacio Paz felt like an imposter. Still, it was very
interesting to see the lifestyle of the beaurocrats in Argentina. Both have a
French influence, one in the negative sense (el Parque) and one in the positive
sense (el Palacio) I identified with the negative French influence much more,
and felt a little uncomfortable. I wonder if Argentines experience the same
Kate Applegate - Tufts University
I was really glad that I was able to see
the Palacio Paz during my stay in Buenos Aires. I remember that, during my
first week here in Buenos Aires, we took a guided tour of Plaza San Martín. The
guide had mentioned Palacio Paz, explaining how it was a remnant of Argentina´s
golden age. So I took a picture of it, but it really was enough to capture how
incredible it was inside. I had no idea how humungous and luxurious it would be
inside. It truly surprised me. Yes, I knew it had the word palace in its name and that is was super fancy, etc., but it really
is something you have to see with your own eyes to believe. Incredible. Palacio
Paz definitely shows the grandiose lifestyle of that era, and it´s also an
excellent example of the French influence present in Argentina. I was lucky to
have the opportunity to go to France three years ago, and so I was able to pick
up on a lot of the French influence in Palacio Paz. Especially the ballroom,
since it reminded me of the Hall of Mirrors in Versailles. What also surprised
me was how many rooms there were which, from my own point of view, seemed to
have little purpose. I think my middle class lifestyle can´t allow me to
conceptualize living that way. This visit was a great way to better understand
this era in Argentina history.
I also enjoyed the visit to the Parque de
la Memoria. What always impresses me about the Argentine people is the way in
which they address the atrocities that occurred during the dictatorship in the
70´s. They try to maintain the memory of the life of those who disappeared, to remember them as people, who felt, who loved, who lived.
While they aren´t completely comparable, the visit made me think about when I
went to the Auschwitz–Birkenau concentration camp in
Poland this past summer. When I went there, I felt overwhelmed, so much so that
at one point I felt like I couldn´t breathe. And it was because of the way in
which they addressed the tragedy. I´m obviously not going to criticize it,
since I think it´s probably the only way you can address the Holocaust. But,
because of this, I was so moved by the focus on memory here in Argentina, not in torture or the actual atrocities
committed. It´s one of the things I will certainly remember about this country.
Juli Pasquale - Indiana University
Professor Corigliano singing opera in Palacio Paz during the tour
Get in touch with local culture and grasp the Argentine way of life.The main challenge is to develop perception skills by observing urban surroundings and cultural practices. Exploring the city aims to increase the ability to understand and interpret local cultural features.
This group excursion takes place on Sundays to Mataderos which is an interesting alternative to the other Sunday fairs in the city. Located on the south-west edge of Capital Federal, Mataderos offers a less touristy atmosphere and the possibility to discover interesting aspects of the local culture.
Carolina Alba Merlo
As a dancer, I love learning about another culture based on their traditional dances. At the Feria de Mataderos the main square is filled with live music and dancing of traditional gaucho dances. These dances are very different from tango and are danced in a manner similar to the Spanish habanera, which is a choreographed “contradanza” where the partners only touch with their hands. As the music continued, more couples joined in, each with their own aesthetic and interpretation of the dance moves and yet they were all pretty much doing the same moves. It gave a very strong feeling of community.
This is very different from tango, which is more centered on the partnership. I would love to go back and ask one of the couples to teach me how to dance it since it looks so fun!
Claire Mauro - Elon University
At the Feria de Mataderos, there was a seemingly never-ending hodgepodge of delicious traditional foods, quality leather goods, elaborate handmade jewelry, and so on. Past the rows of delicious and artisanal goods, there were still more wonders to be seen including the traditional gaucho game of “la carrera de la sortija” and a small dog standing on a horse’s back. However, out of all these intriguing sights, my favorite was perhaps the traditional dance that some of the people attending the fair broke into while a band played music. As the dancers whirled, twirled, and paused in place all at once to first snap their fingers, then clap their hands, whoever was not dancing crowded closer to watch. Everyone gathered around seemed to be having as much fun as the dancers themselves. What left the most lasting impression on me, though, was just the amount of joy that both dancers and onlookers got out of this simple pleasure and the feeling of community that circulated around them.
Lily Siegal - Elon University
The Museo Criollo de los Corrales contained a great collection of traditionally gaucho artifacts and gave newcomers to the Feria de Mataderos a better idea of what they would be seeing in the fair and an understanding of where many of the traditional aspects of the fair derive from. Additionally, there was traditional dancing in the streets and a gaucho game on horseback called “sortija” where they have try to take off a hanging ring of ribbon with a stick while galloping towards it on their horses. It was great to see a very traditionally gaucho fair because within the city we usually don’t have exposure to this perspective.
Helen Wright - Elon University
I told the lady working at the stand that they had the best empanadas that I had tried since my arrival to Argentina and she was very flattered and talked to me for a minute about where I was from and what I was doing in Argentina and overall it was a wonderful experience. The market had a lot of things that you don’t see usually in Buenos Aires and again it was great to put a distance between yourself and the big city. Mataderos is an amazing place and I’ll definitely be boarding the 55 again soon to return.
Aaron Kondrasuk - University of Wisconsin-Madison
The Mataderos festival was one of the most interesting things I have done in Argentina thus far. I felt like I was a world away from Palermo, where I live, yet I only had to travel 45 minutes from my house on bus to arrive at what seemed like a festival from a rural province of the country. What I found especially interesting was the crafts at this fair. I have been to many different fairs in Buenos Aires – in San Telmo and Plaza Serrano – and these fairs have many of the same things. I began to think all the fairs had the exact same products. This was far from what I was presented with at Mataderos.
Liam Miller - Villanova University
This feria is different because there is all kinds of music and dancing, attributed to the "gaucho" lifestyle which has a rich history in Argentina. A "gaucho" is somewhat similar to a cowboy, yet distinct. There were many people dancing along to the music, waving what appeared to be ribbons or handkerchiefs above their heads while dancing, similar to how the gauchos would dance with their wives in the past. Clearly Buenos Aires is known for the Tango, but here was something completely different. What really interested me about this was how both the man and woman were dancing with kids that appeared to be no older than 12, kids that had learned the dance. To me, this shows how the gaucho culture and history has passed down through the ages, it symbolizes the teaching of tradition and history to kids, passing down the torch so to speak. This was fascinating to me, because it showed me how they want this culture to survive and what it means to them, all in a simple dance. Just one of the few things I've learn to love about this city.
This month, we had the honor of hosting Miguel Cantilo, a veritable Argentine rock legend, in the FLACSO auditorium for an interview and chat. In addition to talking about his life, inspiration, and music answering each and every one of of our questions he performed two of his classic songs, "¿Dónde va la gente cuando llueve?", and "Adonde quiera que voy". Although extremely famous, he was amicable and approachable, and his passion for his music was as clear in his spoken voice as it was in his singing voice. It was a truly wonderful opportunity.
During the night of the 22nd of November we celebrated the traditional Thanksgiving dinner with the students, their host families and the resident staff. In accordance to the spirit of this celebration, we invited all of them to share a potluck dinner, whose objective was to bring for dinner a “special” dish for the event. Therefore, traditional American meals and preparations merged in the main table with the typical Argentine cuisine, as a result of the genuine exchange experience of cooking together. Additionally, we provided what is considered the guest of honor in this American tradition -the roasted turkey!- along with delicious desserts for the end of the night.
This was the first time the study center offered this kind of dinner for the students, and we could say it was an outstanding experience. Even though some students were not be able to attend (due to holyday trips or because they just decided to share a more intimate celebration with their families and friends), some others invited their American family (who were visiting them for the occasion). Thus, everybody who was part of the festivity had the opportunity not only to share amazing dishes from two different countries, but also to depart and exchange in a relaxed environment. Moreover, this group dinner allowed all of us to learn about the different customs around the celebration, and how every family enjoys being part of this.
Finally, we want to share with you some snapshots of this fantastic night. We hope you’ll enjoy them!