Hola a todos!
Hope it is not too cold over there in the EEUU still. Here we are enjoying the end of summer… and today it was a high of 88 (a little too hot if you ask me). I am now anxiously awaiting the results of the CELU (the Spanish proficiency test) that I took last week. I made it just in time to the exam after catching the wrong bus, getting off, and hailing a taxi. My taxista got me there just in time… gave me the very abriged version of his life story and wished me luck. The test was administered in a huge room full of desks side by side and was exhausting but actually easier than the final exam for my Language & Culture class. The test was three and a half hours total… three hours of written work/a listening exercise and a short interview. I came out of it feeling very good about it so hopefully my grade will reflect that.
My host hermanita (little sister) Clara is currently laying at the foot of my bed “working” (scribbling in a notebook). She likes to do this whenever I am doing anything that resembles work. While at first the kids were a little overwhelming I really enjoy having them around. Clara is hilarious… as Sol says we don’t need a TV because eating dinner with Clara is like watching a comedy show. She likes to pretend that my room is our house and (unsolicited) offers to organize my dresser, likes to take photos with my camera (and is actually very good at it for a 4 year old) and dance around the living room. She is now brushing her hair and getting ready to go to “work” (which includes putting on all my rings, my watch, and deodorant which she for some reason really likes to do). Vera really likes to draw and do gymnastics and today we climbed a tree in the Plaza nearby. Although getting to know Laura (my host mom) was a little hard at first because we are both somewhat shy, we have been talking more and more which makes me feel good. Last night at dinner Vera and Clara asked if I would stay here until the world ends and we all die which, though somewhat morbid, was pretty sweet.
When I got back from Buenos Aires Sunday night my host mother and I discussed her political orientation for the first time… She told me that there are two major political parties here: Peronista (those who support the polticial ideology of Juan and Eva Peron), and radical. However, she says she is “Kirschnerista,” meaning that she is in support of the current government, which I suppose is a distinct ideology, although Christina Kirschner herself is peronista. Laura’s kids make fun of her for running through the house yelling Christina! when she won the presidency. Christina is responsible for new legislation that forbids monopolies in news broadcasting, asserting that there must be a variety of representation, therefore keeping one party from controlling how the public “sees” the country. Also, Christina is responsible for passing the equal rights in marriage law, making Argentina (I believe) the only country in South America where same sex marriage is legal. In BsAs (Buenos Aires) we visited the Eva Peron museum which gave a very reverential and idealistic portrait of Evita as más o menos (more or less) the savior of the poor and working class and a champion of women’s rights. However, my host mom feels that Eva was contradictory: fighting for everyone to be able to live a comfortable life at the time donning high heeled shoes, designer dresses, and pearl necklaces. Since we almost never watch TV here and do not receive newspapers, the political education I have gotten so far has been through word of mouth and reading grafitti. (So to answer your question Uncle Caspar I don’t know their thoughts here on the union rights controversy in Wisconsin).
Our trip to BsAs was good, although it was very overwhelming to attempt to see such a huge city in two and a half days. BsAs resembles a European city more so than does Córdoba- a lot of the architecture reminded me of buildings I had seen in London. It is a very vibrant, very beautiful, very complicated city. Among the many places we visited was the Plaza de Mayo where the Asociación de Madres (Mothers) de Plaza de Mayo march every Thursday (and where they have done so for about a decade), still in search of children (or grandchildren) that disappeared during the military dictatorship of the 70s and 80s. The Plaza is situation in front of the Casa Rosada which is Argentina’s equivalent to the White House, although the president does not actually live there. Huge painted banners in the plaza demand attention, the most memorable of which I thought was this:
which reads: The only fight we lose is the one we abandon (a Che Guevara quote) and which is not in our minds. The Asociación de Madres de Plaza de Mayo consider themselves and their grand/children unrecognized veterans of the war. The symbol of the Madres de Plaza de Mayo is a white headscarf because when they first began marching they wore white cloth diapers on their heads to symbolize their lost children.
BsAs, like Córdoba, has a wealth of revolutionary/radical grafitti which I documented pretty heavily with my camera. I am starting to think I could be interested in investigating this topic/practice more intensively… possibly interviewing people and writing a paper when I get back? We’ll see.
Another striking moment was outside of a Cathedral bordering the Plaza de Mayo where a teenager and child sat and begged for money as people in suits walked by on their way to work. The teenager sat by the door of the church and every once and a while would instruct the three year old to approach people and beg for money. The little girl approached one of my friends who was holding an expensive camera and photographing the Cathedral and held out her hand, a mixture of confusion and grief on her face, struggling to keep eye contact. What I found most deeply heartbreaking about it was that it was obviously a well rehearsed performance, and the palpable shame the child felt in performing the act made me cringe.
I’ve just received my results on the CELU and my Spanish is officially considered to be “Intermediate Excellent”! (whatever that means). I will most likely be taking this semseter:
1) Literatura Latinoamericana (Latin American Literature)
2) Problemática Socioeconómica de América Latina (Socioeconomic problems of Latin America)
3) Cine Argentino (Argentinean Cinema)
4) Realidades Culturales (Cultural Realities – A class that everyone on my program is required to take and is essentially supposed to help us process/adapt to living in a new culture)
5) Curso de la UNC (A course in the University… the rest are taught by professors in the department for foreign students) Art course possibilities include Drawing I, Photo I, and Methods and Techniques of Painting although if I can finagle it I would like to take an art course and a sociology of education course in the university and drop one of the PECLA (dept. for foreign study) courses… we’ll see.
I will post more pictures soon as well! Today I bought Harry Potter 7 in Spanish which I am excited to start reading. I wanted to find something which would be easy to get into and not too frustrating (a.k.a. something I could read without a Spanish to English dictionary open nearby).
Hope you are all well. Un abrazo desde Argentina!
Oh… To explain the title of this post: Pero…¿Cómo puede ser? is something that Clara often exclaims dramatically and which means But… how could it be?!
I find that the more time I spend here the harder it is to write eloquently in English and sometimes I will have to struggle to put together sentences or think of varied sentence structures/vocabulary. Maybe I will come back fluent in neither English nor Spanish. Pero…¡¿cómo puede ser?!