Monday, May 18, 2009

UC Davis Orientation

So it turns out that waking up early to free breakfast and a day of working with young people is so much more motivating that waking up to teach Javier (a Kimberly Clark employee and uninspired student) for an hour and a half. I did just that last Thursday, and for once I had amazing fortune with the location. I received an email the night before telling me the location had been moved to a university only six blocks from my house!!!!!! Of course I arrived when I was told and no one came for over 20 min, but cafe and two medialunas restored my good humor and we spent the day preparing a group of Argentine students for their three week trip to California. There are many differences between University life here and University life in the States. Two examples are: the majority of Argentines live at home while they are in school, and the practice of raising ones hand in a class room is non existent here. Apparently people just shout over one another. So we shared some of our unparalleled wisdom with them and played a few games. We had a very Argentine lunch of empanadas, miga sandwiches (the classic Argentine crustless sandwich that brings you back to kindergarten that is also a double decker with ham and cheese). After lunch we helped them plan some field work they would be doing in order to explore our strange culture, and for an hour I felt like my Sociology degree was really useful. I was kind of jealous of these kids who get to explore the amazing history and cultures of California which is home to so many subcultures and underground movements. Some of them were truly excited about this assignment, and of course others just wanted to make sure they were in a group with their friends. All in all it wasn't a bad days work. I made $80 (pesos) for the day, had two free meals, an alfahore, and took home two almost full boxes of chocolate milk along with some food and a coke for my house. Josh is a very big fan of Cindor, the boxed chocolate milk that is sold everywhere in Buenos Aires. Considered a luxury item in our life, I'm pretty sure I made his week.
One other interesting occurance occured. After lunch we were privy to a view of some crazy drama happening on the autopista (highway) which our ninth floor window allowed us to see with an unadulterated view. A man (who I later found out had his child strapped to his chest) was trying to just off the part of the highway that looped up and around the rest of the highway. He was at least two stories up in the air, and while the fall might not have killed him, his child certainly would have perished in the fall. There was a hullubaloo and a half when we happened to notice what was going on. There were police, an ambulance, a crane, a giant truck blocking traffic, and lots of people standing around or trying to talk him outo of it. The man was crouching on the other side of the railing for about an hour, and just as the orientation ended we say him being hauled over the railing to safety and hopefully some serious physciatric help. What interested me the most was one girls reaction. She said, "This never happens here." I was surprised. I guess we are so used to hearing about suicides in the states it doesn't faze us like it did them. I really can't begin to comment on these societal differences, but let me know your thoughts if you have any.

1 comment:

Austin said...

That's disturbing. I don't have any personal stories or anything but suicide is definitely present under the surface in the US - they even have official signs as you approach some bridges that give suicide counseling hotlines, and I recently saw a free phone booth that connected directly to one of those as I crossed a bridge in Ohio or upstate New York.

Statistically, the US doesn't have that many more suicides than Argentina, perhaps it's more publicized in the states and more hush-hush in Argentina.

Que se yo.