I’m writing this post for all of you and also as a reminder to myself that my longest days at Penn are nothing. You hear that second semester thesis writing really busy Abigail? YOU CAN DO IT
Today I left the house at 7 am and headed to Barracas, a “bad” neighborhood in Buenos Aires. Last night the entire family came over minutes after I got out of a post bikram yoga shower (my free week has expired and thus ends this chapter of my life) and wanted to flop in a ball and not move for several hours. That didn’t happen and I was up for hours with the family and writing an essay that apparently is not due until next week and is also on a different topic than I thought it was. Fab. I woke up and headed to Barracas to attend a workshop on books being given at a school in the neighborhood. This is all run through my UBA class and is part of a bigger partnership with schools in the city. For my class on childhood and human rights, we all have to do one community activity and I decided to go to this. It started at 8:30 am and I didn’t know how long it would take to get there (I usually double the suggested time on the map website) so I left super early. I got there early, because it actually worked smoothly. Luckily my friend from class got there early so we sat on a park bench and waited. The rest of the students arrived around 8:30 and we walked the few blocks to the school. The area was muddy and definitely shabby but there wasn’t this sense of anger that you can feel walking around Philly. It was raining so everything looked pretty drab and there were far fewer businesses than in other areas. There were still bus stops and paved (though poorly paved) roads. The school had been recently renovated and was in better condition than any Philly school I’ve been in but I have no idea if that’s typical. We were attending the second of a 2 part workshop for high school seniors about reading. It’s supposed to get them interested in reading to certain audiences and to sign up for a program to read to elementary school kids. We set up the room with kids books and did a bunch of activities including reading a story, having the kids choose appropriate books for various situations (like reading to kids in a hospital or 9 year olds reading on their own) and then an activity where each person had to read something in a funny tone. These were hysterical cause I could have 100% not done them but the tones were things like: read like you’re from Cordoba/a soccer broadcaster/an old man/a mexican/etc. So funny. The kids really engaged even though there was apparently some drama because it was two rival homerooms combined. They all laughed at my accent when I said I was from the US and then invited me to join their group. I also had the job of taking pictures so that was a good excuse not to do the reading tone game. Afterwards one of the students made a sign up sheet for the students who wanted to continue and over half signed up! Victory! It was really fun to be inside of a school and see the types of programs the UBA partnership offers. I have to write a reaction paper to it and I’m looking forward to that.
I took the bus to the microcentro after this (it ended at 11) and spent an hour waiting for my class to start in a starbucks. I had my second disappointing latte in this country (they seem to forget the coffee element) and accidentally left my umbrella there. The starbucks was really pretty though, in a former hotel lobby with really cool furniture. I then had my IFSA castellano class which only has three people. We met with the woman from UBA who’s going to evaluate our final presentations and she seems nice. We always get a lunch break in this class (PRAISE) so I ate lunch and finished class.
The day (3:30 at this point) was still not over. I headed to a different subway line and went to UBA for my 5 pm class. It never starts till 5:20 so I went to a coffee shop for like 45 minutes before (that’s coffee number 3). I never order food and the waiter always brings me three little cookies to go with the coffee (everyone else gets two). It’s a little creepy but hey I like cookies and it’s free. I headed to my 4 hour class and let me tell you it was a struggle. The first part was really slow but after our break we did an interactive activity where we looked at the case file of a woman involved in the system (she was a teen mother in a hospital and taken to a institute for young mothers and their kids and eventually got her kids taken away and got them back). This is the second time we’ve done this and it’s really interesting to see how many people make observations and judgments of these people and how many agencies deal with their lives. I don’t know how these programs work in the US but they’re certainly complicated in Argentina (though better funded it seems). Finally, I took the bus home arriving around 10 pm (cause we got out of class late!!) and plopped on my bed for a good hour until I could muster the energy to eat three bites of dinner. I also tried to write this blog post but writing seemed very difficult. The day, though interminable, went really smoothly so yay BA!
Now, I’m going to share my class schedule cause I don’t think it’s on here. If you’re ever curious about what I’m studying…
Tuesdays: History of the 20th Century at DiTella. I thought this class was going to be kind of general but it’s actually all about Decolonization and the 20th Century which I’ve never studied before. The teacher is a really smart woman who dresses a little like Ms. Selwanes (i know only three people will get this but including it anyway) but knows her stuff. I like it so much better than the other history class I was in and feel like I’m studying something understudied and cool. Also the treaty of versailles has been mentioned so we know it’s a real history class.
Wednesdays: Argentine Literature at IFSA. This class is honestly not as rigorous as other lit classes I’ve taken but we read cool short stories. The teacher doesn’t lead the best discussions but it’s pretty painless.
Thursdays: I have my IFSA castellano class in the early afternoon. This is mandatory for everyone in the program and the syllabus is the same for everyone except for the topic you focus on at the end. Mine used to be Argentine women but I had to switch into the Reading the Newspaper one for schedule reasons and I really like it. It’s only three of us, we talk about current events and our teacher is very relaxed and opinionated.
Then I go to my UBA class on childhood, social control and human rights which is really cool. It has three professors and it’s where I have the closest thing to Argentine friends.
Today is Kol Nidre and Rita has her final dinner at 4:30 so this will be the longest fast of my life! I’m also going to dinner with friends right after a day at Temple (I normally wouldn’t stay the whole time but I don’t have much else to do/it’s pretty out of the way from everything and Rita’s going to drive me). Wish me luck!