Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Home is Wherever You Are

Hayy friends hayyyy!

How are you guys doing? We probably talked on skype like yesterday or something, but I do hope you are all having a super dupes day. Today I went to the neurologist (I've been having some health issues, but do not fret!! I am taking care of it, ya'll) and my doctor kept trying to talk to me in English and I could not understand anything and I kept telling him that I understand Spanish, but he wouldn't stop trying to speak in English and I started laughing and it was seriously the funniest thing. I'm chuckling to myself right now as I write this! AH. I miss you guys... here are some updates!!

As you know when I first arrived things got off to a slow start, but now everything is in full swing and I have 3 different placement sites! I am working with Las Madres (The Mothers) of Plaza de Mayo, El Arca (L’Arche) and the Santo Sacramento Congregation. Because I have 3 placements, I am able to discover diverse communities on a weekly basis and it's been pretty great.

With Las Madres, I am able to dabble in politics, which I love. Las Madres are an association of mothers whose children disappeared during the Argentine Dirty War (1976 and 1983). I am tasked with reading old memos, manuscripts and reflections from an organization called FEDEFAM. FEDEFAM is an international organization formed by relatives (including Las Madres) of the disappeared in Latin America and the Caribbean, which have or are currently practicing forced disappearance. I am starting to translate into English some of the information and it will be put up on their website in a lil bit. Below is a link to a recent news story that ran in Al Jazeera. The part of the video when the mother is talking is in Las Madres office, which is where I work, so that is pretty cool.

I just started working with my second placement, El Arca last week, but so far so GREAT! El Arca is dedicated to the creation of homes, programs, and support networks with people who have intellectual disabilities and it is in 40 different countries. In Argentina there is a hogar (home) and a taller (workshop). I split my time between both places doing crafts, cleaning, cooking and generally just being a support to the community. My new friends at El Arca are so loving and are just what I’ve been needing, as my first month here was kinda lonely, as I've probs told some of you.

My third placement is with the Santo Sacramento congregation, which I talked about in my last post. The Sunday activities are really a time for the kids to relax and have some fun. Their daily lives are difficult and they have struggles that I can’t imagine at such a young age. I really, really look forward to Sundays, where I can hang out with my new friends. It's my favorite day of the week. Last week one of the kids, Cecilia (she is like 14 or 15) and I bonded over our mutual love of Justin Bieber and she gave me this awesome picture of JB to decorate my apartment with. In return I gave her one of my necklaces and she cried! It was the sweetest thing and I really love my JB pic, duh! Here is a photo of Xiomi, Me, Cecilia, Agus, Evelyn.

My BFF here is named Xiomara and she is from Honduras. She lives next door to me and she's studying Social Work at Buenos Aires University. She is seriously my lifesaver. She is teaching my how to cook, so we eat A LOT. We also go for runs in the park and talk about her really dysfunctional relationship with my next door neighbor. She also went with me to the hospital last week when I was really sick and she sat with me for 3 hours waiting for the doctor as I cried and whined. I really, really appreciate her.

Here is a photo of Xiomi and I:

What I'm Reading:
So, I do this thing where I start a book and become obsessed and read the first few chapters and then get distracted and usually start another book, that I will inevitably not finish as well. That's me, that's my life. So, instead of writing about Dance of the Dissident Daughter (which I WILL FINISH) I will write about ¡Gracias! by Dutch priest Henri Nouwen. Since I arrived about 2 months ago I’ve been searching for ‘my place’ here in Argentina. The words in ¡Gracias! have assisted me in focusing my thoughts and gaining perspective, leading me to recognize that ‘my place’ is wherever I happen to be, not what I happen to be doing. I can and will affect change in my new communities just by being in ‘my place,’ a place I never anticipated I would ever be if you asked me a year ago. Here are some quotes:

“One of the most rewarding aspects of living in a strange land is the experience of being loved not for what we can do, but for who we are.”

“It is hard for me to believe that the best I can do it probably not to give but to receive. By receiving in a true and open way, those who give to me can become aware of their own gifts. After all, we come to recognize our own gifts in the eyes of those who receive them gratefully”

"When we walk around in a strange milieu, speaking the language haltingly, and feeling out of control and like fools, we can come in touch with a part of ourselves that usually remains hidden behind the thick walls of our defenses"

"...we are called to empty ourselves of these privileges and become servants of the people. True servants depend on those whom they serve. They are called to live lives in which others guide them, often to places they would rather not go."

What I'm Listening to:
Stephen Kellogg & the Sixers, 'My Favorite Place'

So many hugs,

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Feelin' Groovy

Hey Yaa Friends!!!

Spring is in the air here in Buenos Aires! These purple flowers are in my courtyard and they smell incredible! I guess I will start this post saying that if at any point in time you're curious what I'm up to, you can bet with 67.8% certainty that I am somewhere on public transportation. I can also guarantee that I am shoved up against a stranger invading their privacy bubble, while awkwardly giggling as I listen to Adam Carolla or Marc Maron podcasts on my ipod. I spend a lot of time on the train and the subway, as I'm living outside the center of the city in a barrio named Villa Ballester (about 1 hr. 30 mins. away from the center). Below I will post some photos of my apartment in case you guyz want to see!

When I'm not partaking in the tonz-of-fun that is public transport, I've been spending 4 hours a day in an intensive Spanish class. When I arrived here my placement sites needed more time (about a month) until there were ready for me to work, so David and Kate (my coordinators) found me a class to keep me occupied. It is a great review of stuff that I've forgotten over the years and my professors are litruhly like balls of fiery Spanish energy and wisdom! It's really great.

When I get home from class I usually spend some time playing with my 4 year old neighbor, Eire. She is going to be such a lil diva when I'm done with her. A few days ago, I gave her a manicure and it was my most impressive manicure yet; Barbie pink nails with 3 different color polka dots! She loved it! We also like to draw things like cats and horses and she has a fascination with my umbrella, so we pretend that it's raining and sit under it. She's HILARIOUS.

Although I have not begun working during the week yet, I have been working on the weekends at a church called, Santo Sacramento. It is a companion church with the ELCA. I help out with cooking and I also help out with los ninos (the really cute lil babiezz). Most of the children that come to the church on Sundays (from 12-3) live in a neighborhood that struggles with poverty among other issues. On Sundays, the church provides everyone a meal and then there are different classes available. There are activities like guitar lessons and crochet lessons for the older kids while I hang out with the youngins. You can definitely look forward to me updating more about these awesome kids in future blog posts. No matter what language they speak or what their background is, all kids want is to be loved!!!! And I LOVE THESE Q-TEE BABIEZZZ.

My Apartment:

This is the view from my window! I can grab fresh lemons from that tree! NOMZ

This is my living room/dining room/kitchen. I converted my extra bed into a couch. Behind the dresser (brown wall) is my bed and bathroom.


NOW PLAYING: A sick cover of 'One Love' by Blue. You guyz, this is the greatest. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JEyiptbPV0c&feature=related

Dance of the Dissident Daughter: I will update with some thoughts on the book in the next post! My reading as of late has consisted of Buenos Aires travel manuals and books on Argentina. As well as plenty of stuff on the political debates happening at home. Good stuff.



Monday, August 22, 2011

Come on feel the ILLINOISE: Chicago

Hey Friends!

I've been in Chicago (U of Chicago Campus- Hyde Park) for the past week for orientation and there has been lotz and lotz going on inside my head. I've felt so many emotions this week, that I'm exhausted! I had to isolate myself in my room tonight where I proceeded to sit and stare at the wall for 3 hours. I am so glad that I've had this time to prepare myself for the journey I'm about to embark on. The YAGM orientation leaders have been so wonderful and gracious this week! I really can't even begin to understand all the things that I will learn and discover about myself and about the community of the world over the next year.

I'm sure that many of you are already aware that I have some issues trying to articulte my thoughts, usually stumbling on my words or mumbling stuff that doesn't make sense or just changing the subject altogether when the topic makes me anxious or brings up difficult emotions. With that said, this week I've literally spent hours and hours talking, listening and contributing my thoughts and opinions to our group (a group of 50 young people from all over the US). Needless to say there have been some laughs at my expense when I start to ramble and my eyes daze over as I attempt to explain a thought...lolcatz. The group of people I've been surrounded with this week have been hilarious and it's been such a good time getting to know them all. The other 4 people in my Argentina/Uruguay group are pretty schweeeettt, too. I think I am the youngest, but we are all in somewhat similar life situations, so we have a lot to talk and laugh about.

As I said, we've been given a lot of things to think about this week and I feel so much better prepared because of it. I have to be honest- I literally avoided thinking about leaving all summer, every-time my mind would turn to Argentina or the future, I would change the subject or say "I don't want to talk about it". It's difficult to imagine being away from my family and my friends (many of whom ARE family to me) for so long. I've always struggled being alone- I think having Claire and Mary around my entire childhood is probably one of the many reasons why that is. The thought of living alone in a foreign country where a community is relying on me and anticipating my arrival scared me to death to be frank. However, learning new ways of listening to myself and my body and understanding my own personal needs and abilities has been a great way of alleviating that fear. I didn't allow myself the time this summer to really think about this year, so when I inevitably packed the day before leaving I felt very rushed and confused and sad. I really needed this week of community and I feel very at peace with my decision to commit to YAGM and the responsibility that I have to myself, my community and to the ELCA.

Sidenote: At the request of my country coordinator I've started reading a book called, 'The Dance of the Dissident Daughter" by Sue Monk Kidd and I am LOVING it so far. It explores the journey of a women rediscovering her faith and spiritual 'essence' in light of her feminine awakening. I will update later with my thoughts once I read some more of it.

Now Playing:

Thanks for reading!

Luv, Lo

Monday, August 15, 2011

This is What I Am Doing RITE NOWZ.

Hey Y'all!!! This is my Blog (duh) that I just made RITE NOWZ. I've attempted blogs/journals when I've traveled before and they all failed miserably, but I've decided to put in some super duper effort on this one and update it semi-often. I'll be gone for AN ENTIRE YEAR (WHAT?!) which is a bit cray cray and overwhelming. I'm staring at a huge pile of clothes/ random stuff that I will be stuffing into one suitcase and one backpack tomorrow. Should be interesting. Anywayz, I am SO grateful to have been given this opportunity and I can't wait to share my adventures with you all!

I'm listening to this song in anticipation of the CHANGES to come.