Cultural exchange plays a large role in volunteering, so we asked the students to reflect on their experience.
Did you have any stereotypes of Argentina before you visited?
I heard there was an attitude divide between porteños and the rest of the country, and that porteños are supposed to be more arrogant or uppity. –Annie
This was after I came here but this is one joke I heard in class, that when there is lightning out porteños think its god taking a picture of them. So just mostly about ego. – Cole
Have you experienced any culture shock here in Buenos Aires or at your project?
For me it had to do with people questioning my nationality. I identify as a Mexican American. A lot of people ask “Are you from Mexico or not?”. It was kind of difficult to explain I am from the US but I’m ethnically Mexican, so I have two cultures. It was more interesting having them asking about my Mexican side rather than my US side. –Natalie
Now that you have immersed yourself in Argentina culture, do you have a different point of view in comparison to before?
We use the term Americans and obviously here they all Americans too, but it’s so part of our culture in the US to say Americans it’s just incurring in our minds. So I think a big part of my time in Argentina was learning more about the entire American Culture. -Annie
I really realized how collectivist the culture is here and how ethnocentric we all are in the US. – Cole
I was surprised at how Latin America is linked with the US. I thought it was this distant place in the south but it’s actually was heavily involved even in the cold war and with exports and imports. –Aidan
What have you most enjoyed about your stay here? Was there anything that you did or never imagined yourself doing?
I would say this class is something I didn’t picture myself doing, just the act of taking a 45 minute bus ride to a southern part of BA to volunteer in a soup kitchen. Just the whole act of doing that. –Cole
Finally, do you have any tips for future volunteers to better help them adapt to the culture here?
I would say going in with the mindset that not everything is going to be spelled out for you. In class we read about high context and low context, and here it is low context. We really need things spelled out in the US for us to be comfortable, I guess it’s a good thing that we didn’t have that because even experiences that were going to have later on aren’t always going to be High context. –Cole
You are seen as a production machine in the US so if you’re not meeting your quota you are useles. Here I think your more seen as a human, you know given time to have a break you’re a real person. –Annie