As a part of my Ambassadorial Scholar duties, I am required to give speeches to different Rotary clubs and other groups and organizations throughout my time here in Argentina. I got in touch with Martín, a Rotarian in the Club San Pedro de Jujuy, and he invited me to come up and do a presentation. San Pedro is a town of about 70,000 but they have two clubs – one with all men (Club San Pedro de Jujuy) and another with all women (Club Las Perlas). The club with women is only about a year old, but the other club has been around for a while. Rotary has a strong presence in San Pedro, and their clubs are extremely active and do a lot of good work in the community.
I got to San Pedro on Monday afternoon, and Martín was at the bus stop waiting to pick me up. He took me to an office where Adriana, a Rotarian in the Las Perlas club. She runs a tourism business that is doing extremely well, so I got to hang out in her office for a little while before she took me to her beautiful home and later to get some coffee. Her house is HUGE and gorgeous and she has two adorable dogs – one looks kind of like Roxie, my dog at home, and the other is a bulldog who has a hilarious face. I got some good puppy time in while staying at her house!
After I dropped off my things and we got coffee, she took me on a walking tour around San Pedro. It’s a beautiful little down and super relaxed, with a huge plaza with palm trees and school kids hanging out.
Then we went to an institute where they have a “Profesorado” program, for people who want to be teachers. They use an elementary school as their school – the little kids take classes during the day and the college-age kids come in at night. I was able to sit in on three different classes which was super interesting, because getting to see how teachers are trained here is becoming a big interest of mine. There was a regional literature class for students training to be Spanish teachers (like English teachers in the USA), a world literature class (all read in Spanish), and an analysis/investigation class where they specifically learned how to write up observations for their field work. I liked the analysis/investigation class the best because the teacher was really engaging and nice to me, and I got to read the students’ write-ups from their last field experience.
After spending a few hours at the institute, we rushed home so I could change and grab my Rotary things and then headed to the meeting, at a restaurant just off the main plaza. Rotarians started to filter in and were really quite on time – most arrived between 10 and 10:15, with the meeting set to begin at 10 (good job San Pedro Rotarians!). They put together a special meeting with both clubs, the female and male club, so that I could present to all of them at once (much appreciated!).
During dinner they were discussing some Rotary business, and I was really impressed at the “ganas” the clubs in San Pedro have. Tener ganas de roughly translates to feel like doing something… basically, the clubs just have a lot of drive to make change and get involved. With the floods in Buenos Aires province, they put together a drive for clothing and other supplies to ship down and help those in need. They also do a good job at getting their clubs positive publicity… more on that in a bit.
After dinner, I gave my first presentation to Rotarians outside of Salta and it went extremely well. The Rotarians asked me some really good questions and they all told me they learned a lot about the United States, which was my goal. I talked to them about my own personal life, things I like to do, etc., but also talked a bit about our education system, my role as a Spanish teacher, the structure of high school in the US, and the problems Milwaukee faces (particularly poverty and segregation). They were all so welcoming and extremely kind to me, and I really enjoyed the evening!
The next morning Adriana woke me up at 8… AKA she came in to wake me up at 8 and I actually got out of bed at 8:15 (whoops). As I was still half asleep in my “ughhhhh I don’t want to get up it’s too early and I’m still tired” phase, she asked if I wanted to go on the radio. What? No! That makes me super nervous!
But after I changed into jeans and a sweater, washed my face, packed up my things, and went downstairs, she told me we were going to radio station anyway… guess I didn’t have a choice. We went down into the 99.1 studio (seriously the radio station was 99.1, how ironic!) and Adriana told me that they had gone on the radio earlier that morning to promote the supplies drive for the victims of the floods in Argentina. Once the DJ saw that we were there, they put on a song by Maná (a song that I knew and love!!) so that they could talk to me. The DJ, Juana, was super nice and told me that she was going to ask me some questions. We came back from the music and I was on-air! Terrifying! She mostly talked to me about what I was doing in Argentina, what I thought about Argentina, why I liked Salta, etc., but she also asked me about American breakfast! Now I hate reinforcing stereotypes but I LOVE AMERICAN BREAKFAST! So I told her that during the week I usually eat something and drink my coffee while I am driving to work, but on the weekend I love to go out to breakfast with my friends (shout out to Nate, Marissa, Michele, Luke and whoever else I’ve gotten breakfast with!). She asked me what I ate and I said normally like 2 or 3 eggs, sausage or bacon, toast, hashbrowns (which I vaguely described as something with potatoes because I had no idea how to say hashbrowns en español), orange juice, and coffee. She freaked out and asked how in the world anyone could eat all of that food.
I find this ironic because here I ALWAYS feel like they give me too much food when I go to a restaurant for lunch or dinner. Anyway, while I was on the radio, I was also on TV! She pointed this out to me about halfway through the interview… great, I had just woken up, didn’t put on any makeup, and my hair was a huge mess. But now I can say that I’ve been on TV and radio here in Argentina! Fame status!
After my radio and TV appearance, Adriana and I got breakfast (unfortunately just some toast and coffee, no American breakfasts here) and I headed to the bus station to come back to Salta. I felt SO cared for when I was in San Pedro – Adriana was an amazing host and made me feel so, so welcome. She comes to Salta often, as San Pedro is only 110 km away, so we have plans to meet up and go shopping and get lunch the next time she’s in town. Her kids are away at college and her husband passed away two years ago, so she seems a little bit lonely sometimes… hopefully I can be like her temporary replacement gringa daughter? Haha. Anyway, I am SO SO SO thankful for this experience and am continually amazed at how great Rotarians are. Thanks again, Rotary!