5 Things I've Learned in Argentina

Written by Celine Mestivier
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After one month and a half volunteering in Buenos Aires, as communication assistant, I know how much this experience is rewarding for me.

Day by day I learn new things, about the city, it's population. I met, discovered and exchanged with new people, students, parents, children…but I choose 5 things that I have learned here:

1. Things about the country

From my first week of volunteering until today, I've learned a lot of things on the Argentine’s culture, their population, education, their history… that is for me the most important thing. Through volunteering, I can exchange easily with people of the community. We can talk about the cultural differences between our countries and learn more about real problems in the capital city. For example, during my experience at the « English school » we had an exchange with the students and the teachers about the differences in terms of education in Argentine, in France and in the United Kingdom. We question ourselves about the price of universities, if it’s difficult to integrate some schools, the fact of wearing uniform… We also talked about the subject of abortion because the issue continues to divide the country nowadays. All the students are not agree. Indeed, still today, a lot of people aren’t in favor of legalization. And, in opposition, we could see many women during the last demonstration addressing the green scarf, a symbol of the Argentineans campaign for the right to abortion.

2. Be more opoen-minded

Behind this difference of point of view on this students, the second thing I've learned is to be more open-minded. It’s essential when you travel and you speak with people who came from different cultures. Because of the history of our country and our experiences we can have completely different opinions. And more, through the different projects of the association, we are getting to see Buenos Aires neighborhoods in the peripheral area, very poor and very different. Contrary to the center, we are in the middle of ruined houses and abandoned land. The way of transport, the houses, the population, and the environment are not the same but it’s very interesting to face this reality and be able to discover these inhabitants.

3. Be more empathetic

We learn to be more attentive, to take a lot of interest in others and less in ourselves. The main purpose of your day is to discover a project, to learn as much as possible about the inhabitants, to understand their work, to help them and to put them forward so that they get more help through some tools like articles, photos, and videos.

4. Gained confidence

This experience taught me to be more confident. In fact, it’s hard to be uncomfortable in Argentine because, in general, all the inhabitants are very welcoming and warm. Each time, I meet smiling people, deeply kind, happy to share their experiences and open to discussion. After a few weeks, you feel more and more confident to talk to new people easily and it's a real moment of pleasure and exchange. This confidence allows me to take more initiatives in my work for the communication of the association, to be more creative and therefore more effective. This has a real positive impact in my everyday life and in my work.

5. Learned Spanish

In the end, I learned Spanish too, claro! At least, I should say, Argentinian Spanish. In spite of the difficulties of the first week, now it’s easier to communicate and understand. Finally, when we go on the different projects we don’t have the choice so this is how we learn the best: by speaking directly to the lovely Argentineans!

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Voluntario Global helps local communities by being available to discuss anything that local organizations need, and offering ideas for further change and development.


Location: General Pacheco. Buenos Aires. Argentina
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