Cassia Carmo - Care, Care & Spanish in Argentina
I had been learning Spanish for about a year and I started to realise the importance of connecting a language with its cultural background. I had been in a summer camp, a few years before where I met some people from Argentina, and they all gave me a very good impression of the country.
Apart from being very friendly and easy-going they made my mouth water by describing their typical food. After reading some testimonials and getting the information about the 2 Week Special in Care, I was sure that “the land of silver” was the right choice for me.
After my long journey I felt exhausted, but I couldn’t wait to explore the homeland of Tango! I remember feeling very welcome and safe when Lourdes, a Projects Abroad staff member (who was already waiting for me at the airport), smiled at me and told me that she would always be there for me, whenever I needed.
My Host Family
I had been very anxious before, trying to imagine who would host me and hoping that they would like me. I knew that I would have a roommate as well and the truth was that I didn’t really know what to expect.
My first breakfast was a shocking experience for both me and my roommate, Sarah. We were used to the traditional continental breakfast (cereals, milk or fruit) and we suddenly found out that the first meal would be much lighter (crackers and tea). Later on that day, we talked to our host mum, and she said that preparing us a more “complete” breakfast wouldn’t be a problem.
During my whole time in Argentina, I had no reasons for complaining about my host family. They made me feel like part of them, always asking us if we were comfortable and telling us funny stories of their everyday life. This was probably the reason why Harriot, a girl that had been there for three months, found it very difficult to say goodbye.
I was also very lucky with my roommate. She was talkative and funny and we helped each other every time we felt a bit lost.
Volunteering in Argentina
Working with children is magical. Having worked with those children made me a better person. They were all so simple, always offering us a happy smile when we played together. Two weeks sounds like a very short period of time, but they were enough for me to miss them.
Every day, we spent a whole afternoon learning their games, teaching them how to do simple things, such as reading the time or doing some craft work and simply accepting the fact that love is a universal language. They gave us a lot of love when we hugged them, when they fell asleep on our laps, when they jumped to our backs for us to carry them around. Once, the little boys taught me how to play rugby and I felt as if I was a little girl again, by the end of the day, covered in dust from running frenetically.
The best moment of the day was “la hora de la leche”. They all sat together, like brothers and sisters, and we gave them milk and cookies.
They always surprised me with their ability to make me smile. One day, a little girl came to my lap during the cookie time, kissed my cheek and split her cookie into two, giving me one half. It is indescribable how appreciated I felt for that simple gesture. That is why I missed them so much! On the last day, some of them made drawings for me and I still keep them. It was an amazing experience and I wish I had stayed longer.
Travelling in Argentina
As a group, we met some other volunteers and we did very nice activities. We played bowling and, although I came 8th (out of 10), I still had fun. We also attended a Tango lesson and I was amused by the perfect articulation of movements by the teachers! We had a lot of fun trying to dance too! It was a very interesting night.
On the weekend, we visited Che Guevara museum, the General Belgrano vile and El Peñon del Aguila. Gue Guevara museum was fascinating because it was actually the house where Gue Guevara used to live and they organised the rooms perfectly as if he still lived there. General Belgrano Vile was a vile built by the Germans during the colonialism period and entering there was like entering the scenario of a movie, with a lot of beer shops around (of course). We had so much fun zip sliding from one mountain to another in El Peñon del Aguila! Simply unforgettable!
I also loved the Argentinian food! I had already heard about their meat being the best in South America, but I didn’t know how good their alfajores were! Yummy!
I am very happy for having been part of such an interesting project! I intend to start a similar one in my home country (Angola) and this gave me a real picture of how to do so. If I were to choose one thing I liked the most about the Argentinians, I think that I it would be their hospitality. The land of silver has people with the value of gold, and this makes Argentina a very special place.