- McDermott Scholars
- The McDermott Scholars Award covers all expenses of a superb four-year academic education at The University of Texas at Dallas, in concert with a diverse array of intensive extracurricular experiences, including internships, travel, and cultural enrichment.
Monday, June 27, 2011
Meals have been one of my favorite parts of Argentina, and not just because my host mom is a great cook! Meals are always an interesting mix of Spanish and English (and sometimes even French, since I took it in high school) in order for me to accomplish basic communication. The first week, dinner took about 3 hours every night. We started around 9pm and finished close to 12am, when our host mom, Mama Catalina as she has us call her, finally shoos us out of the kitchen when we try to do the dishes yet again.
Mama Catalina, Jess, Prisha, and I have had some really fun nights. One of my favorite memories is the time I mixed up wedding and deer, and no one could stop laughing long enough to explain what had happened! I have learned so much about Argentine culture around our dinner table and I think that our family dinners will be memories I cherish the most when I leave here
Husain M --
The Buenos Aires experience so far has had a myriad of meaningful sights, sounds, and smells. A walk in the Plaza de Mayo has shown us the Casa Rosada, the Cathedral, and buildings of varying architecture. We saw the Madres de Mayo (mother's of victims of the Dirty War) in their weekly demonstrations as well. Visits to the Parque de la Memoria and the ESMA (a former detention center) have also helped us understand the dark details of the war.
A day trip to an estancia (a ranch for Argentine gauchos) has given us another view on the culture here. The environment was serene, with a vast blue sky and a wide expanse of flat, green land. Riding horses, eating asado (barbequed) beef, and talking with the gauchos made this a memorable day.
Other great places include the Buenos Aires Zoo, the Botanical Garden, and the Teatro Colon. Daily life on the streets has been fun with perusing through markets, eating pastries at confiterias/panaderias, and appreciating the ubiquitous street art.
A full weekend at Puerto Iguazu was incredible with viewing the waterfalls at the National Park. A raft ride through the falls got us all soaked, but we were able to dry off on the sun-exposed beach of Isla de San Martin. The next day we went to the Iguazu Forest to do rappelling and canopying. We were also able to visit Tres Frenteras, the point from which we could see Paraguay, Brazil, and Argentina all at once!
Although the thought of living with a complete stranger was initially daunting, I am very fortunate to have “Mama Catalina” as my host mother. With her kindness and generosity, she has made it possible for my roommates and I to feel right at home in her 10th floor apartment in the middle of Buenos Aires. Though we were strangers to her just three short weeks ago, Mama Catalina has embraced us with kindness and dotes on us all of the time.
While we are busy during the day and spend most of our time far from the house, all of us look forward to returning just in time for the nightly dinner and the hilarious conversations that ensue. Spending time with her and other families has enabled me to realize that this is the way of life in Argentina. Families are of the foremost importance, and the people here cherish spending hours at the dinner table sharing stories of misadventures and even day-to-day occurrences.
Through Spanish, English, and a little bit of gesturing, I have learned about the importance of family to the people of this country, and it’s a lesson I want to take back home with me.
So it took me a long time to write this post. I spent the holidays back in the states, worked for a semester in D.C., and now have finally returned to campus in Dallas, and my experience in Brazil has clearly shaped the way I look at the world and my place in it. I suppose this blog has taken such a long time to complete because in many ways, I am still not done processing how my experience abroad has affected my life. I think I brought back a piece of Brazil with me, imbedded deep within my character and thoughts, and it continues to play a role in my development as a nearly-graduated college student/soon-to-be professional adult.
As a country, Brazil has been truly blessed with great natural beauty, both in terms of landscape and people. The geography varies greatly from region to region, but almost all the country is permeated with a sense of wonder and respect for the wealth of nature it possesses—be it beaches or forests or anything in between. The people in general are large-hearted, excited to be exposed to new people and ideas, and eager to share their culture and opinions and views on life.
The economy and the country as a whole are experiencing a period of newfound stability and prosperity that results in an almost tangible energy in the attitudes and outlooks of the people. They seem genuinely excited for what the future holds in store; I have certainly never been faced with such widespread optimism here in the U.S. during my life thus far—a time which has largely been characterized by terrorism, unending military conflicts, and economic troubles. There are lessons to be learned from that optimism, and I can only hope that my still-developing understanding of it will continue to guide me as I figure out how to contribute to a brighter future for the U.S. in an increasingly interconnected world.
All in all, my experiences in Brazil were extremely valuable on both a personal and professional level. I am much more aware of the forces of globalization and economic improvement, but also much more aware of how I fit into the equation and what I may be capable of achieving in the coming years. Thank you, Brazil and all those I met there, for reinvigorating and refining my earlier dreams of helping enact up-to-date and meaningful economic change in the U.S. and in the world.