2013-07-23

Volunteering in Buenos Aires – Part 2

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Living a Transitive Lifestyle

(If you haven't read Part One, it’s right here)

The First Month

I have come to settle in quite well in Buenos Aires. At first, I was completely enjoying my vacation, and still catching up from finals week from my previous semester. By this I mean, I would sleep until 2:30 pm every day, eat at the chinese buffet next to the VG House, then make my way to the office by 3:30. After work I would come home, wait for everyone else to get back from their projects, then find somewhere to eat for dinner and stay up until late. This was for the first few weeks, which allowed me to enjoy my freedom of not having school to go to everyday, but instead being in a new city, in another country, far far away from the rigors of college.

In the beginning I was a little intimidated by the city, and a lot of the people who were in the house when I got there had already kind of done everything, so it was up to me to figure it out by myself how to get around the city and get to where I wanted. Even though I am able to communicate with the people around me, read in Spanish and follow directions, a metropolis like Buenos Aires could turn into a scary place to get lost in very quickly, as some of the past volunteers have made very clear.

New Friends

I ended up meeting a group of students that all take part of a University exchange program here in the city, who were mainly from Quebec, England, and a few from the US. I enjoyed spending time with them because they were in Buenos Aires actually living sustained lives similar to that of what I live during the year in the US, going to school during the day, and working simple jobs like waiting at night. I actually went with a group of them to Iguazu Falls in the north of Argentina for a weekend, which was probably the coolest thing I have done since I have been here. They also introduced me to an all-you-can-eat sushi place close to where they used to live, which costs what would be about 20 USD, and is now my favorite place to eat. Clearly I have a thing for asian food

Oh Yeah, I Work Too

My work with Voluntario Global is what I do with the majority of my day. It started out with just me in the office,with another volunteer working from home, and has slowly grown to there now being 7 of us working throughout the work on different projects in the area of marketing and communications. Our main goal is really just to get the word out about Voluntario Global, what types of projects they offer and how people all over the world can get involved. For that reason, it is important that we have a diverse team working in the office, who are able to use their knowledge of different cultures to get the message across to others who may be interested in the work the organization does. My job specifically is everything that includes constructing a broad picture of what it is like to be a volunteer here, and the different aspects of Argentina that a person experiences in their day to day life here. This includes making videos of volunteer testimonials, doing interviews with people in order to share their jobs and experiences at the different projects, and then later sharing them throughout the different media outlets, including the organizations blog, website, as well as spreading information virally through social media like Facebook, Youtube, and Twitter. The work involves a lot of planning and teamwork, which is the experience that I was looking for when taking this internship, as well as interacting equally in both Spanish and English.

Hangin’ with the Locals

I always feel like when I leave the states that it is important for me to be around local people as much as possible, in order to really completely envelop myself in the experience of the places that I go. I really enjoy being around Argentinians because of their friendliness, as well as their ability to have a good time. I went to a friends 30th birthday party, which included a barbeque with the best beef and chicken I have ever tasted, and got to interact a lot with his closest friends who were all there to celebrate his life. I've noticed that they have a very distinct culture, with the way they speak Spanish, their hand gestures and mannerisms all very defined.

A Constant Goodbye

One of the strangest things that I have come to experience here is the concept of people coming and going, with almost a constant hello, goodbye, attitude, not only in the volunteer house, but with my exchange friends as well. I have been subconsciously experiencing this type of relationship with people since I graduated high school, where I meet someone, we hang out for a while, then I never see them again except for through the lights of my computer and their Facebook page. This time it’s different though, just because since all of the people I meet are from literally every corner of the world, it is predetermined the second that I shake their hand that after just a little while, they will be gone and that is that. Its not that I have separation anxiety from people I don't really know, it’s just tiring, as well as demotivating. When I make friends with someone, unless they really rub me the wrong way, I have always lived with the intention of being their friend forever.

With this system of coming and going, and my impending return back to my own country, lately it's becoming harder for me to get to know a lot of people on a personal level, especially those who know they're staying for a long time. Its a shame, because the new group of volunteers seem really awesome, but for me it’s kind of like what's the point? I’ll be gone before most of them even remember my name. It’s kind of sad, because it seems like everyone who comes here needs to either get busy staying, or get busy leaving. Its a type of mentality I should probably get used to after all, especially if i am going to continue living the transitory lifestyle that I have had since I moved away from home in the first place. Even still, there is something ironically sobering about sharing a beer with a friend, knowing that it will be the last one.

Coordinators

Its not all sad goodbyes though. What I have managed to do, along with a few of the other volunteers who have been here for a while, is become pretty good friends with the coordinators of VG outside of all of our individual projects. This allows it to be a lot more relaxed and efficient when it comes down to doing inter-organizational projects with one anothers different areas of work. What is great about Voluntario Global is that the coordinators are a closely knit group of people who all share the same values and goals, and use their combined efforts to bring volunteers to Buenos Aires, and collectively do great things for people in Argentina who need it. I enjoy being around people with such motivation and goals, it reflects well on me and the other volunteers to continue working hard on our own projects.

This for me, along with the experience of working in these diverse environments makes this internship completely worthwhile!

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VOLUNTARIO GLOBAL

Voluntario Global helps local communities by being available to discuss anything that local organizations need, and offering ideas for further change and development.
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Email: jfranco@voluntarioglobal.org

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