LaSERIO Argentina: Hola from Cordoba!

Written by Girlguiding LaSERIO Argentina 2019

Hola from the LaSERIO service expedition in Cordoba, Argentina. We have been here for over a week now and are getting fully stuck into our projects and embracing the Argentine culture.

We opted for a care project through our partner company, Projects Abroad. Our main focus is the "Little Bee" nursery, a government-funded nursery in one of the poorer areas of the city. We are undertaking a renovation project in the garden of the nursery, turning what was previously a grey-walled, dusty yard into a bright, happy place for the children to play. To start with, we gave the walls a lick of paint and painted a colourful mural of trees, flowers, butterflies, ladybirds and, of course, bees on the largest wall. We turned the adjoining walls into multicoloured brick walls, which look vibrant and cheerful, but will also help to teach the children colours. We've also freshened up the paint on the railings at the front of the nursery, and there's still plenty of work to do! As well as the renovation project, we have been getting to know the children and staff at the nursery, singing songs, playing games and helping to care for the children. It's been wonderful seeing their trust in us grow, and everybody is getting a lot out of building relationships and learning to communicate despite something of a language barrier. Working at the nursery has made us all realise how lucky we are, and how we shouldn't take what we have for granted.

As well as helping out at the nursery, last week we visited a public primary school to talk to the students about recycling and to do an activity with them turning recycled materials into art. Before going to the school we spent a morning making examples to show the students, including a robot head made out of a cardboard box and some bottle tops, biscuit tray musical instruments and a whole host of animals crafted from plastic bottles including snakes, jellyfish, a bee and a pig! We prepared a presentation and posters about the importance of recycling, and how to do it, in Spanish and spent a long time practicing our pronunciation! The children were really excited to see us and enjoyed making plastic plates and cups into flowers, elephants, masks, aeroplanes and many other things. Public schools like the one we went to don't receive funding for art, so it was amazing to be able to provide this for them and seeing the difference we made with a simple craft activity and a few songs was humbling. It taught us to appreciate our schools and education more. We are visiting another school this week for 'Dia del Nino', Day of the Child, where we will play games and sing songs with the children and join them for a big party to celebrate!

Whilst we've been working hard on our projects, we've also had time to see some of the sights in Cordoba, and have had a couple of Spanish lessons. On our first day we did a bus tour and earlier this week we went on a walking tour of downtown Cordoba and learnt all about its history. At the weekend we visited Alta Gracia, a beautiful town to the southwest of Cordoba, where we visited the Estancia Jesuitica museum, seeing what life looked like for the Jesuits in the 18th century, as well as the childhood home of Che Guevara where we learnt about his early life and influences. That evening, we went to a huge flea market in Cordoba and bought lots of souvenirs and presents for people back home. We've learnt how to make empanadas, and very much enjoyed consuming the delicious results! Aside from that we've been trying lots of delicious new foods, some favourites being milanesas, cannelones, lomitos and alfajores.

One of the other aims of our expedition was to connect with local Guides and Scouts, and we had an amazing day last weekend meeting over 100 Cordoban Scouts! All of their sections meet at the same time on a Saturday afternoon, so we got to meet Scouts of all ages and spend some time with two of the older groups sharing games, songs and traditions. The Scouts had an amazing community spirit and were so welcoming - their joy and generosity was incredible and is something that we all want to take away and continue with everyone we meet. It also struck us how little it takes to make someone happy - no matter if there is a language barrier or miscommunication, a smile costs nothing! We were really touched to be given one of their neckers and a beautiful plaque, and gave out plenty of badges in return and treated them to a sunset rendition of taps.

We have been bonding even more as a group and all feel privileged to be part of such a fun and supportive team, and to be guided in-country by our amazing Projects Abroad coordinator Alejandra. We have been singing, dancing and laughing our way through the days, and the whole team is handling the cultural differences well and embracing the affectionate nature of the Argentinians!

We can't wait to update you on the rest of our expedition, we have many exciting things planned!

Love from,

The Girlguiding LaSERIO Argentina 2019 team

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