Teodora Stanoeva - Human Rights in Argentina
Last summer, I decided to volunteer in Argentina. As I am studying law at university, I was interested in doing the Human Rights Project. I spent only two weeks in the country, and I honestly regret signing up for such a short period. I had an amazing experience in Argentina, not only because I felt happy to help vulnerable people, but also because I made friends with wonderful people.
Living with an Argentinean host family
Even though I was scared to meet my new family due to the language barrier, I was lucky to have one of the best host mothers, Silvia. She is an amazing woman that makes you feel at home, and is ready to help you with everything. I arrived in Cordoba around 3am and was picked up from the airport by a Projects Abroad staff member, then taken to my host family, where Silvia was waiting for me at the door.
I remember how nervous I was when I had to go downstairs and have breakfast on the first day. I had studied Spanish before, but my language skills were far from good, so I was constantly using Google Translator during my first days. Silvia was so patient with me, she always repeated herself when I was looking at her with my puzzled expression, and she tried to speak slowly so it would be easier for me to understand. Moreover, she cooked delicious meals three times a day, which was a great opportunity for me to explore Argentinian cuisine. My weakness was ‘dulce de leche’, and I took a kilogram of it home for my family in Bulgaria!
Furthermore, a few days into my stay, my roommate, Julia, arrived and that helped me so much because her Spanish was excellent. We became good friends and we still keep in touch.
Volunteering in Argentina
My Human Rights Project was the perfect combination of fun and work. I had the opportunity to work with two amazing local lawyers. They were not only coordinators for the project, but also our friends. They came with us to both the social justice placements and the legal clinics, and assisted us every time we could not understand the people or their situation.
I visited four residential care centers for abused children or underage criminal offenders. I communicated with the children through leading educational discussions or playing different games with them. I met so many kids in these homes, and despite my short stay, I became attached to them. I was happy when I could see the smiles on their faces when we were playing different games or just dancing to their favorite songs.
I also participated in weekly legal clinics at which we assisted homeless people by giving them free legal advice. I must mention Oscar, one of the people coming to the legal clinics, who became friends with all of the volunteers. He was so nice to us, and he even had a little book in which we wrote something to him so that he could remember us. Even though it was difficult for me to communicate with the Argentinians, I managed to improve my Spanish and experience a lot of the country for these two weeks.
Traveling in Argentina
Volunteering in Argentina does not only give you the opportunity to contribute to society, but also to meet wonderful friends and travel around the country with them. I was able to visit only the Iguazu Falls with three of my friends. This was the most beautiful place on Earth that I have ever seen! When I saw the waterfalls, I could not move for a few minutes. It was astonishing. Talking about this place now, makes me so nostalgic. I am so lucky that I went to Iguazu; it was one of the best trips I have ever had.
It was so fun traveling with the girls because I could get to know them better. I remember how we were all sleeping in the same room in a small hostel, and we were playing games until two in the morning. If you ever go to Argentina, do not hesitate to visit this remarkable place. It is worth it! Even though I had time to visit only Iguazu, and I could not explore more of Argentina, I can say that I would definitely want to go back and see more of this beautiful country.
The Human Rights Project is an amazing opportunity for everyone who wants to get involved directly in helping Argentinian society and to meet friends for life. I recommend both the country and the project to everyone, and I assure you that you will not regret it. I still keep in touch with the other volunteers, and I hope one day we will reunite in Cordoba!