Greetings from Buenos Aires!
ART & CULTURE
Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes
A huge part of the summer Spanish language program is to experience the language in context. That’s why CIEE makes a point to take the students on a variety of cultural excursions, as a part of their courses. Last week, the students visited the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes(MNBA) to view some of Argentina’s most prized pieces, past to present. One of MNBA’s features are their temporary exhibits, which currently boast a collection of drawings by Fernando Botero (best known for his paintings feature exaggerated and voluminous figures) and a photography exhibit featuring images from the anthology, “Adriana Lestido Lo Que Se Ve. Fotografías 1970-2007.” Of course, they also got to see the iconic Floralis Generica, a massive steel and aluminum sculpture, located in the Plaza de las Naciones Unidas, as well. “Before going to the MNBA, I didn't know what to expect. It would be my first art museum in a foreign language, but luckily art is omnilingual. The museum did a great job integrating classic international art with home-grown Argentine art, which I enjoyed very much.” — Evan Bowechop
FADU + VELATROPA
In contrast to most American universities, whose buildings are clustered into campuses, Argentine academic buildings are spread throughout the entire city. The students visited the Facultad de Arquitectura, Diseño y Urbanismo (FADU) of the Universidad de Buenos Aires, one of Argentina’s most prestigious universities. This Facultad (academic building) is home to, as the name suggests, architecture, design and urbanism, but also natural sciences and research facilities.
Heading out of the FADU, the students ventured into the woods to find Velatropa, a self-sustaining community, consisting of 15-20 people who live and work in there, within, but disconnected from, the metropolis of Buenos Aires. Here, people strive to be as self-sufficient as possible, recycling articles they find and everything they use.
“Velatropa is a place opposite to the fast life of the city, for them the land's health is the first priority. It is refreshing to see this community take things "we" call trash and create beautiful things.” — Gabriela Williams
“Going to Velatropa is a definite highlight of my time spent here in Buenos Aires. It was really nice to see people working together to live more sustainably, purposefully, and creatively.” — Annie Slattery
To never forget: El Parque de la Memoria
Afterward, the students visited the Parque de la Memoria, located along the Río de la Plata. This monument was built so that no one would ever forget the tragedies that occurred and the thousands of lives that were lost during the last military dictatorship. It is estimated that over 30,000 people are considered “disappeared,” most of whom never returned. The park includes commemorative sculptures built by artists from around the globe.
A night at the theater: Camila, nuestra historia de amor
On June 27, the students had the opportunity to see Camila, nuestra historia de amor at the Teatro Lola Membrives. This play is a 19th century historical romance telling of the tragic love between Camila O’Gorman (a high-society girl from Buenos Aires) and Uladislao Gutiérrez (a Catholic priest).
Fridays: Coffee, Conversation and Porteño cafés
Every Friday, the students get together with local Argentine university students at notable cafés around Buenos Aires for an afternoon of conversation. Over café and medialunas, the students get to practice a more colloquial Spanish outside of the classroom, while getting to know Argentine students and experiencing the café life that is so typical here.
A theatrical bookstore: El Ateneo
One of Buenos Aires’ most iconic landmarks is the El Ateneo Grand Splendid bookstore. Originally designed as the theater, Teatro Grand Splendid, in 1860, the space was renovated in 2000 and converted into a bookstore and music shop. This gorgeous bookstore maintains much of its previous splendor, including the stage, Italian ceiling frescos and balconies (though they currently house bookshelves). On the stage is a café where you can settle in to enjoy a coffee and a good book.
Field trip to Uruguay: Montevideo and Colonia
From July 5 to 7, we travelled to "the other side of the Rio de la Plata", with the objective of visiting the beautiful cities of Montevideo and Colonia, in Uruguay. During this trip, the students had the chance to experience the particularities of the Spanish spoken in this brother-country, learning about cultural similarities and differences. Additionally, they also learned about the Afro-Uruguayan heritage and its traces, where past and present merges in this particular country.
This 3 day field trip included visits to the cities of Montevideo -the Capital of the country-, and Colonia –the best-kept colonial settlement of the region, where it is possible to enjoy their Spanish and Portuguese traces. During their time in Montevideo, the students visited the Old Town, rich in architecture, shops Center, the Independence Square and Parliament Palace. Then they walked around its beautiful green parks and Residential neighborhoods such as Carrasco, Punta Gorda and Pocitos, to end their tour in the exceptional "Rambla" which follows a path of beautiful beaches. At night they enjoyed dinner in a classic venue of Montevideo’s nightlife, “El Milongón”, that offered different shows and folkloric dances such as tango and candombe, part of their African heritage. During the second day, students participated in a “candombe tour”, following the traces of the African heritage, and learning how to perform this indigenous music and dance. Afterwards, students visited Colonia, declared a World Heritage Site. A place where they enjoyed its colonial architecture, courtyards, artesian wells, churches, monasteries and ruins of the city, museums and even its unique stone sidewalks.