Volunteer Review: Aoife F., Human Rights in Argentina
Why I chose this project
I took part in the Human Rights Project in Argentina over November and December. To say this was an experience of a lifetime was an understatement. I am Irish and pursued a degree in law in London. In my final year of university, I felt lost. I wanted to continue my legal training but my motivation was wavering The prospect of entering the legal profession and beginning a lifelong 9-7 career seemed daunting. One day, by chance I stumbled upon Projects Abroad. I had done pro bono legal work in the past and thought the Human Rights Project would be an excellent opportunity to expand my professional work experience,improve my linguistic abilities and develop my understanding of another culture. With that, I began taking the next steps into this new adventure.
Arriving in Argentina
After many months of planning, my journey began. I arrived in vibrant Buenos Aires at the beginning of November. There, I waited in anticipation for what was to come. Once in Cordoba I was greeted at the airport and brought to my host family. My host mom was outgoing, enthusiastic, and very proud to be Argentinian. She instantly welcomed me into her home and her culture. I felt very grateful to be staying in a family of such genuine people.
On the first morning of my project, I was greeted by my team leader and she showed me around Cordoba, setting up the necessities and providing me with some background to the city. She is one of the most genuine, thoughtful people you will meet. Her relaxed attitude and friendly nature put me, and everyone around her at ease. Her commitment to helping people in whatever way possible motivated me to work as hard as I could, to achieve as much as possible.
My Human Rights Project
For those interested in conducting a placement with Projects Abroad, there is a wide selection of avenues to pursue. Coming from a legal background I chose the Human Rights Project as I felt I would gain the most insight from this. My placement consisted of a combination of office work; largely research-based, and on-site placements. The purpose was to improve the rights of vulnerable people in Cordoba through the law, but also through education and social means. I worked in social care centers and played educational games with the children. I worked in prisons and talked to the girls there about life after they are released. I attended lectures in the university and learned about real-time issues affecting people living in Cordoba. I also attended marches and raised awareness about these issues, as well as participated in research about the changes in legislation and its impact on people in the area. Everything I did had the underlying theme of progress. It was so fulfilling knowing that the purpose of every day in Cordoba was to improve the lives of the people around you.
Free time in Argentina
If you haven’t been to Argentina, you should go. Finish this article, pack your bag and find the next flight. The only word I can think of to describe Argentina is vibrant. It is a country of color. A mix of people from all around the world. A mesh of cultures. And a unique combination which creates something completely unique. Cordoba is no exception. Albeit smaller than Buenos Aires, Cordoba possesses the same unique buzz you find in the capital city. Every evening the streets are crowded. It doesn’t matter what night of the week it is, the bars are packed full of people laughing and enjoying the spirited sounds of Latino music. Argentinian people are friendly and interested in learning about your foreign heritage. I was surprised by how quickly I found myself assimilating into the Argentinian culture. Of course, It’s absolutely necessary to indulge in some Dulce de Leche, and for those of you who eat meat, I hear the steak is outstanding. The amazing thing about Projects Abroad is that all of the volunteers live close to each other in one of the nicest suburbs of Cordoba. There, we treated ourselves daily to a healthy scoop of ice cream, and delicious breakfasts at local restaurants. Of course, Cordoba is hot and rain is rare so ice-cream and siestas are absolutely necessary.
Before coming to Argentina, I was slightly apprehensive about the idea of being a woman traveling by myself in South America. Throughout my stay in Cordoba, I felt very safe. Of course, it’s important not to take risks. Projects Abroad generally house volunteers in pairs so that at night, for example, you are not traveling in taxis alone. I also didn’t walk around at night alone and was lucky to have made great friends with many other volunteers so we all moved around together.
Overall, I had the most amazing time in Argentina. I made memories that will last a lifetime. I met people who gave me perspective on my own life and my own direction. I felt inspired and challenged by the work I conducted and it has given me a new insight into my future career. The Human Rights Project is what you make of it and for any of you considering it; I would dive in head first and not look back.
This is a personal account of one volunteer’s experience on the project and is a snapshot in time. Your experience may be different, as our projects are constantly adapting to local needs and building on accomplishments. Seasonal weather changes can also have a big impact. Find out more about what you can expect from this project, or speak to one of our friendly Program Advisors.