Rutgers Students’ Summer Adventure in Argentina

Every summer since 2010, Rutgers University students have seized the opportunity to immerse themselves into the Argentinian culture, language, and lifestyle through the Rutgers Graduate School of Education’s program “Language Learning and Community Engagement in Argentina”.

Dr. Nydia Flores created the program to help Rutgers students overcome the challenges of working with non-native English speakers in the United States and develop the critical-thinking skills necessary to provide mutually beneficial multicultural environments. The program focuses on immersing students in the rich Argentinine culture, allowing them to rapidly improve their Spanish speaking abilities and broaden their cultural perspectives through two learning tracks focusing on service or language.
The service-learning track offers participants the opportunity to spend several days teaching in an Argentinine school to develop an intimate relationship with the students and staff members and observe the Argentinean educational system first-hand. These participants spent a majority of their time teaching at the educational center La Paz, which was founded by La Universidad del Centro Educativo Latinoamericano (UCEL) to provide holistic educational opportunities for low-income students. Participants had an opportunity to develop and teach lessons each day and, as the program progressed, began to tailor lessons to the students’ strengths and interests. For example, a few participants integrated musical instruments and songs into their English lesson for a group of students that were musically inclined.
The newly created language-learning track was designed to help participants with entry-level Spanish-speaking ability improve their skills by exposing them to an intensive language program where they learned to write and speak Spanish five days a week. The course was complimented by the participants’ exposure to Spanish speaking locals in Rosario, Argentina, where they conversed mainly in Spanish. These students also had the opportunity to visit La Paz and volunteer on two separate occasions, further enabling them to put their Spanish into practice while conversing with students.
During their visit, the students are hosted by local families within Rosario, giving them the opportunity to develop close relationships and experience the structure and culture of a Latino family. Host families helped participants develop their Spanish speaking skills by conversing with them daily.
“My host mom was patient enough to teach me Spanish even though my language skills were very limited,” said program participant LaJuan Miller. “At the end of the program, my Spanish became so much better that my conversations with my host family became longer and more complex.”
Group-organized cultural excursions offered the Scarlet Knights opportunities to learn and explore Argentina’s rich history. Participants visited museums and historic landmarks in Rosario and Buenos Aires, the capital of Argentina, and learned about the cultural and political history of Argentina. They also had the opportunity to get away from the hustle and bustle of the cities and explore the beautiful countryside of a ranch- known in Argentina as an estancia. There the travelers enjoyed riding horses and making memories by breaking bread with the locals.
“The views at the estancia were so beautiful,” said Carol Nowlen, a participant from the 2015 tour. “I had the time of my life and I wish we could have spent a weekend there instead of just one day.”
Participants took seminars at UCEL that complement the excursions and service and language learning components, giving them the opportunity to understand the country within a historical and modern context. The seminars, coupled with their assigned blog postings, gave the students the opportunity to reflect and think critically about the complexities of the Latino culture and people.
 “It is wonderful to watch and support the students as they grow as individuals,” said Crystal Marull, director of the program. “Their understanding of cultural and global issues widens and their desire to learn more blossoms over the three weeks in Argentina.”
Follow the group’s trip in detail by viewing each student’s blog below:
Shakera Rainner– Graduate student, Social Work
LaJuan Miller– Undergraduate student, Women and Gender Studies
Anita Bruno– Undergraduate student, Social Work
Carol Nowlen– Undergraduate student, Genetics Major and Spanish Minor
Gabriella Doucette– Undergraduate student, Business Newark
Hartmut Rausch– Senior Auditor
Shannon Mari– Undergraduate student, Spanish
Cydney Murray– Undergraduate student, Public Health Major and Spanish Minor
Skylar Bolkin– Undergraduate student, Political Science and Communication and minor in Spanish
Diana Sánchez– Graduate student, Social Work
Jenny Sosnowski– Undergraduate student, International Policy
Damaris Alfonso– Graduate student, Social Work
Students who are interested in applying for the program are welcome to attend an information session on November 4, 2015. Click here to learn more and RSVP.
The deadline for the 2016 summer trip application is March 6, 2016. For more information on application and scholarship opportunities, please visit the 2016 Argentina Study Abroad webpage.
To learn more about this program, please visit the Language Learning and Community Engagement in Argentina webpage.