Monday, July 23, 2007

My Family in Argentina

This past week I've been talking to my family in Argentina for the first time. I found out last wednesday that I have three brothers and a sister. My youngest brother is Fermin (fair-mean) and he is 9 years old. Santiago (sahn-tee-ah-go) is 16. My "twin" sister is Maju (mah-hoo) and she's 18 as well! she's going to California next year with exchange, so I am essentially taking her place. My older brother is Martin (mar-teen) and he is 19 and in university. He's studying to be an engineer. My father is a ranch owner and my mother is a chef! I've been talking to Maju primarily, but also to Martin and Santiago. Today I talked to my mom for the first time! She seems really nice and says that everyone's really excited for me to come -- including my classmates at school! Apparently they know I'm coming. I'm going to the Instituto San Agustin, and studying in the curso humanidades. I'm going to have a bunch of classes, including language, literature, geography, acounting, history, ENGLISH, and a bunch more i can't remember. Below I've posted some photos of my family!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

CSRYE conference -- Part 2

This is just a continued post from the first one. posting pictures isn't super easy so i decided to split it up!

So after a cup o
f hot mate, we went to a meeting with our country correspondent for argentina. i learned a little about argentina and my area. After that, we had a meeting with all of the outbounds and the travel agents. looks like i won't be getting my visas for a while :( afterwards, the weather cleared up and we were able to have a great time at that brasil vs. the world soccer game! below, you'll see some photos of some fans.

in the end, THE WORLD WAS VICTORIOUS. and there was much celebrating among the nations. literally. we went back to our dorms and chilled for a bit, then went to the variety show. there was a lot of really great talent! the thing that impressed me the most -- and forgive me if i sound lame -- was the respect all of the audience showed the performers. no one talked through the whole thing, no one made obscene noises. it was really cool, considering there are few times when 700 teenagers can do something like that. it kind of struck me that that's what being an exchange student is about... being respectful to others and what's really important to them.

THEN we headed out to the dance. the music selection significantly improved the second night, so that made it a lot more fun! Afterwards, our district went downstairs and joined another district's party and had a grand ole' time. it was a weird environment though: the rebounds were depressed to be home, the inbounds were devastated to be leaving, and the outbounds were ridiculously excited. i got to hang out with my new rebound buddies again and attempt to learn truco (euchre gone shady), but my brain was too tired for that kind of work. so i just sat around and said goodbye to the outbounds and watched andrew tie things to his earrings.

the next morning was a sad one: lots of goodbyes and good lucks. i fell asleep soundly on the way home to make up for my serious sleep debt i built up over the weekend, and immediately came home and started to research what i found out on friday.... that next year i'm going to be living in the Ciudad de Nueve de Julio, in the Pcia. Buenos Aires, in the great pais de ARGENTINA! more on that and my family later! below you'll see mariana (IB arg), case (OB denmark) joe (rb south africa) melissa (ob italy), myself, and eduardo (IB Brasil).

Friday, July 20, 2007

Central States Rotary Youth Exchange Conference

Welcome to my Argentina blog! I decided that in order to get practice for next year and since I really felt this past weekend was the kick-off for my exchange, Central States RYE Conference is the best thing to open with. The weekend began early Friday morning, when my family left almosttt perfectly on time. We dropped off my brother at my cousins' house and then headed on over to Calvin College. Unfortunately, there was a bunch of construction going on, so the whole weekend it was slightly uncomfortable to navigate, but it wasn't that bad. After registration, i met up with some people from my district, ate breakfast, and met the president of rotary! On the left, you'll see myself and President Wilfred "Wilf" Wilkinson!

Afterwards, we went to the opening ceremonies. it was so dramatic! the stage was flooded in fog as people holding flags were raised from the floor, all the while bathed in red light. oh, and 2001 space oddessy was playing. quite... epic. we listened to a couple speeches afterwards, and then met in meeting rooms with our districts. i met some rebounds who i didn't know before. After, we went and hung out with our countries which was really cool. There are four of us outbound to argentina: Adele, Haley, Tom, and myself. We met five rebounds and about 9 or 10 inbounds. it was one giant argentina lovefest! A lot of my questions were answered and my parents were sufficiently terrified. Afterwards we had a picnic-ish lunch (yes, all 1400 of us) and hung out.

The next thing I remember is getting ready to go out. My roomies were Lauren (OB India) and Melissa (OB Italy). We then got dressed and prepared to go dance the night away with seven hundred of the coolest kids out there :) On the left, you'll see me with three girls from my hall: Melissa, Chelsea (OB Belgium) and Jackie (OB Finland). The dance was pretty fun, and I met a lot of cool kids! Afterwards, we went back to our dorm and hung out for a bit. I was all enthusiastic for sleeping, but my roomies unfortunately were not :)

The next day we got up at 6:45 and went to breakfast. I sat with new people and got to know them a little bit. We went to a general meeting and got to experience the Rotary Rap Singers... who don't rap at all! My favorite song was the neverending one where we listed off every single country that RYE sends kids to. Emphasis on neverending :) Then the outbounds hung around and watched a presentation about body language by Sister Mary something from Aquinas. She didn't end up being very... nun-ly, as she flicked off the audience in order to translate international symbols for... well... everything! She then taught us a lesson in personal space, as illustrated in the picture on the right.

Afterwards, we ate lunch, and Adele and I met up with some girls who just got back from Argentina. They kindly invited us to make the traditional argentinian drink with them... MATE! it's highly caffinated and very much an acquired taste. It's also a very social thing, because in a group of people you will pass around one cup in a certain order dictated by tradition and make the tea in a certain way, also dictated by tradition. Sharing that experience with them was one of the coolest things of this weekend. Below, there's a picture of me with the argentina rebounds (and one inbound). From the left, Rita, Kelly, Carolina (IB), Jessica, and Brooke. On the right, Adele is enjoying a cup of mate.