Friday, January 30, 2009


Welcome to my new blog! Thanks to everyone who made the jump from Palermoita. I intend for this blog to be about my daily encounters in La Plata - from day-to-day aggrevations and excitements, to my language-speaking improvements (hopefully!), and to my project with Biosfera.

As for me, I have settled comfortably into my house family´s house. They are wonderful people and welcomed me in a traditional Argentine manner - a conversation over a shared-cup of mate. My house is a bit outside of the city, but La Plata is very small so not that far. FSD has lent me a bike and will be giving me a transport stipend for the bus. My barrio feels more like the country than a city. I will post pictures soon. However, internet is a bit of an issue currently, as I don´t have it in my house. I´m working on my options...

Orientation ended today. We did a scavenger hunt in the rain, which I was not too thrilled about, but ended up enjoying. It was a great way to get to know the city and talk to locals. Plus, I bonded with one of the other interns. After, we watched an Argentine movie, Tiempo de Valientes (, in the FSD office (Spanish w/ Spanish subtitles). I got the gist, but the conversation was a difficult to follow. It was fine, kind of an Argentine version of "Analyze This."

This weekend, my new boss is already putting me to work. I am handing out fliers tomorrow with the 2 other interns from my office. My organization is protesting the building of a new industrial park outside the city of La Plata, among agricultural fields. My boss is amazingly passionate about his work. The 2 times that I went to the office this week, he was giving radio interviews about this issue.

Monday is my first day work. My first 2 weeks are dedicated to understanding the organization - so lots of reading of past projects.

Next weekend, my host parents invited me on a trip to Bahia Blanca (SE from here), which I will most likely take them up on.

So far so good in La Plata. Two thumbs up :)

Que es desarrollo internacional?

I am half-way through my first week as an intern for Foundation for Sustainable Development (FSD) and so far, orientation has been fun/challenging (language-wise)/provoking.

The fun stuff includes our stay in a great pension (hostel) where the hosts organized an asado on our first night and a milonga (tango) on our second. Last night, another intern that has lived here since July took us out to a bar to play pool. Tonight, the interns (all 6 of us) had dinner with our future (as of tomorrow) host families.

Ok, difficult stuff: Spanish! When Argentines talk fast (aka normal pace), it flies completely over my head, but I feel like I am improving day-by-day. I am excited and worried about living with my host family and working in Spanish. Full immersion, here I come! I am sure that it will be difficult at first, but hopefully, it will get easier. I'm keeping my fingers crossed!

Provoking: What is international development? What does it mean? What are the goals? What role do I play, especially as an outsider? Every day for orientation, we have been having workshops on a variety of things. We have touched on project expectations, time lines, budgets, interactions with our supervisors, and, of course, living with a host family. We all had to make 15-minute presentations in Spanish on a topic of our choosing. I talked about my experience in India and showed pictures. After, we had a discussion about different levels of development. Obviously, Argentina is very different from India in terms of clean water, infrastructure, health and educational services, etc. Therefore, our projects here might not accomplish something as concrete as my rain-water harvesting system. My project may be a workshop or a survey or research. However, my brain doesn't work that way. I need concrete solutions (hence, why I like math and science). I hope that I can adjust my expectations to the needs here, so I won't be disappointed with my work.

I met my supervisor at Biosfera yesterday. He's a great guy, motivated, smart, passionate, supportive. Plus, he really cares about his interns and invests time in them. I have heard only good things about him from other people, so I am excited to start on Monday.

My organization:


I made to La Plata! Currently, we (me and 5 other interns from the US) are staying in a pension for orientation. The one-hour bus ride was easy-breezy, but moving all of my "crap" was not! How I have acquired so much stuff in 3 months, I don't know! It is really absurd and, of course, I have the most stuff out of all the interns... so embarrassing! Anyway, orientation is all in Spanish - a bit of a shock to my system - and we have to give presentations in Spanish this week so the directors can evaluate our skills (or lack there of). We took a short city tour this afternoon with one of our directors (stopping for helado along the way) and we are having an asado tonight in the pension. There is another Colombian girl staying here, who happens to work in the same organization that I will be volunteering in. We had a very nice conversation (in Spanish!). I am excited to start work and meet my host family. The city is very pretty - much smaller than BA. I'll post pictures soon.