29 August 2013


and i didn't think i could get more ~gap year~.

i'm excited to have finally started work in córdoba.

attending the blas pascal town hall meeting.

as law & human rights volunteers, maddy and i have elected to work in the field with disadvantaged people to help them understand their human rights and improve their living conditions. my main project is working at a correctional facility - a sort of small boarding-school-like prison - for teenaged girls who've committed serious crimes, often due to an abusive family background. i'm going to provide them company and to teach them job skills, helping them write resumés and practice for job interviews. by thinking about and preparing for the future, they'll have tools to stay off the streets once they're released. it gives them a chance to escape the cycle of violence and poverty that's created their situation.  we (the projects abroad coordinators, other volunteers, and i) also are planning other projects, like having the girls bake alfajor cookies to raise money for p.e. equipment they really want. i've been once already, with a coordinator, to get introduced to everyone. this time, we just sat and talked for an hour or two. the five current inmates (usually there are more) basically sat around on their small patio chain-smoking and explaining their tattoos while i concentrate really hard to understand their slurred spanish. still, they seemed genuinely eager to learn and think ahead.

alfajores, a delicious south american equivalent to macaroons, are the perfect way to end a long day.

i've also visited a project where volunteers interview homeless people after they receive free dinners from a partner charity. eventually, the pa project will provide a comprehensive picture of córdoba's homeless and their situations, even providing simple solutions to a some of their problems. for example, two weeks ago volunteers learned that one man had come from another city to find work but had been unsuccessful and now couldn't afford the bus home. a donor quickly came through with the relatively small sum, allowing the man to return to his family.

blas pascal is a government-built community that replaced a shantytown.

today i worked in the blas pascal neighborhood, a former slum that's now a government-built neighborhood, what we'd call "projects" or something like that. volunteers lead the daily after-school program for the area's children, which offers art, outdoor play, snack, and sometimes lessons. today was unusually rough. the children were wild and loud and difficult to manage. the classroom was a mess of paint and cookie crumbs. several groups starting fighting, accusing each other of misdeeds and allying based on whether they were from peruvian, bolivian, or argentinian families.

still, the kids were sweet and craved attention. they love playing with our phone cameras, leaving us with streaked screens and zillions of funny selfies. the younger ones want to be picked up. the older want to show you their handstands. others had to be pushed for a ride on a broken office chair. i painted nails and braided hair. one of my favorite moments was when i ended up impromptu ballroom-dancing with one of the girls, twirling and stepping all around the room.

hanging up art to decorate the space.

grabbing for my iphone.

some unexpectedly good portraiture taken by the kids.

the first broken office chair...

...and the second.

the dusty playing "field" was littered with glass, which i did my best to pick up.

field work in general is intimidating and tough. it's not going to be easy or "fun" or just four hours a day, as projects abroad told us it would be before we arrived. we're working out in the field all the time, so the professional workplace outfits i brought are less useful than i'd expected. but work here will also be always interesting. this whole trip is an incredible learning experience. i know i can hope only to broaden my own perspective, but i'll also do my best to make a difference in a few other lives, in any small way i can.


p.s. the last couple days besides work:

sometimes some lounging and journaling is in order.

our house is so so beautiful.

the asador out back.

one last silly photo because we like lemons and selfies.

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