I miss Argentina so much. Looking back, I don’t think I could have had a better time. Seriously, in every photo and video I have a huge smile on my face. The best think about the whole Argentina experience is the Argentine people. They are so welcoming and fun. Before I went, I was a little worried about how me and my yankee boys would be accepted in the country. Maybe I was worried because I was not the strongest Spanish speaker or the fact that this was my first time out of the United States. However, everyone loved us. I thought meeting Martín and Juan’s friends would be awkward but they literally treated me like one of them. When we would go places they’d fight over who got to sit next to you or who would buy me a snack at school. I almost felt awkward because they were so nice. When they came to Arizona, I thought maybe some of the Argentine guys got dirty looks or mean comments because of their style of clothing and attention from the ladies. It was opposite there. The guys would compliment my clothes and introduce us to girls. It was honestly shocking how accepting and nice the people in Argentina were. My expectations were blown away by it all. I was happy every day in Argentina but my last day in Santa Fe. Saying goodbye to my brothers was so hard. For some complicated reasons, I had two brothers: Martin and Juan. I grew so close with them it was just so weird saying goodbye. At first, I kinda laughed when Borboa would call them my “brothers”. Like, I was gonna get to know these kids for a few months and then say goodbye and go on with my life. But when I met them, that mindset totally changed. When we said goodbye, I actually cried. Which is so weird to think about. Like I hadn’t cried since I was a little kid and I don’t know where those tears came from. Maybe this whole exchange created a place in my heart for Argentina. That just kinda got ripped out on this last day. But then I realized it didn’t have to be my last time to see Martín or Juan. Over the two and a half weeks I was in Argentina, I noticed my Spanish improved a ton. Those are things that you really look for in travel. So, maybe if I could plan it, I could go to Argentina for a longer time and work on my Spanish. There is always room for improvement. Something that I could really bring into my life in Arizona would be the welcoming behavior I talked about earlier. If I could be that nice to new people I meet, it would change my life and the lives of others. Lastly, I think a Brophy student would be robbing himself of an insane opportunity if they didn’t apply for this trip. It is simply the coolest and most amazing thing I have ever done in my life. Hopefully I will see my brothers again someday.
I woke up this morning to a bead of sweat rolling down my forehead; adjusting to these record setting AZ temperatures is a challenge. I kicked my blankets off and rolled over to face the wall that borders the right side of my bed. I thought back to a month ago, when this wall was bare; nothing but drywall and beige BEHR Marquee paint. It seems funny to me that when I embarked on this adventure one month ago this wall meant nothing, all it was worth was the cost of construction and the paint that covered it. Now, it means something entirely new and profound. As I stare at this wall which now contains a fabric yellow sun that lies on top of three blue and white stripes, I reflect upon my three weeks in Argentina. I can remember each moment quite vividly and what shocks me the most is that during these moments I never thought to step outside myself and realize that it could be changing my life. I have thought deeply about this and have come to the conclusion that, while there were so many incredibly enjoyable moments during this trip, it is the collective that is life changing. From our first three days in Buenos Aires: going to the tango show, shopping downtown, walking around with Estella. To the unforgettable two weeks in Sante Fe: going to school, gaining a new family, the boliches, fishing with Mr. B and the dads, doing service, and overall building long lasting relationships that I will never forget. Finally, the last two days in Iguazú: watching the NBA finals with the boys, getting a massage, driving under the waterfalls, seeing one of the wonders of the world, and saying goodbye to the country that has ultimately changed me as a person. Since returning from all of this, I have noticed many descrepancies in my behavior towards the world, but one thing has stood out in particular. During this trip I began to understand the value of relationships. Instead of being on my phone throughout dinner I would talk with my new brothers, Valé and Nachito, or ask my new parents, Quique and Joséfina, if they needed help cleaning up. Anything I could do to get to know the people around me more, I wanted to do. I feel as though I have brought this appetite for relationship back with me to the United States. I constantly find myself realizing that I haven’t seen my phone in hours, and that feels refreshing. I truly hope to continue to strive to create healthy relationships with as many people as possible. Also, during these past three weeks, my ability to speak Spanish has improved exponentially. I achieved my goal of being able to hold conversations in Spanish, which makes me extremely proud. I am now very interested in minoring in Spanish during college, which I believe will double my potential for success and friendships in the future. I hope to never lose contact with all of the great people I have met during this immersion. I can truly say that Argentina has changed my life forever. Year 9 boys will live on.
Going on the Argentine Exchange Program was one of the best decisions I have ever made. I have learned quite a bit about myself through the weeks I had Nico stay here and the weeks I went south of the equator. I also learned a lot about the world and that in all places of the world people’s culture and living habits will just be different. For example, in the United States we usually eat dinner around 5:30-7:00. In Argentina families do not usually eat dinner until nine or ten which was a big change for me. The breakfast scene is also very different in Argentina. It is more sweet based and they do not eat a very large breakfast. This was different for me because I love breakfast. I learned to love Mate, which is a tea like drink that argentines drink very regularly and love with a passion. I learned how passionate argentines are about their famed asado (which definitely lived up to the hype,) and that insulting an argentine’s asado could quite possibly be one of the worst things you could do. In my opinion I have become a much better Spanish speaker from when I had to talk to the customs person in spanish to my last day in Argentina. It was different adjusting to a country that spoke an entirely different language from me. The argentine people are a very close knit people. It seems as if everyone knows everyone. I would be walking down the street with my exchange brother and every ten minutes or so he would stop and chat with someone he knew. I grew as a person, I definitely became more outgoing because of my time in Argentina. I was also told by many people that I look more thin so that is a plus. Always trying to cut down on those cal pals. Saying goodbye to the Argentines was extremely hard for me. I felt like I had not just made one more brother but that I had made twelve more. I became close with so many argentines. Hopefully that farewell was just chao and not a real goodbye. I will carry the lessons the argentines taught me throughout my life, about family, friendships, and how to cook a mean asado. I would very much love to go back one day and hopefully I would get the chance to see all those argentines that I consider my extended family. All the memories I made from this trip will stay with me forever and having my own chapter in this prestigious exchange is something I am very proud of because as Mr. Borboa will tell the group next year Intercambio ‘17 got the most hype on the boat in Iguazu Falls.
After being back from Argentina and settling in for a good week I’ve had a lot of time to reflect about my wonderful time in Argentina. I learned a lot more about myself than I think I could have. Even though we did not do too much Religious activities or spiritual bonding while in Argentina I’ve had an overwhelming amount of emotional connection to not only the people on the exchange but the things we did. The bonding and time all of us spent together was quite amazing and I believe that someone cannot feel that way in any other high school community except for Brophy. After going on this immersion trip I feel an obligation to do more for my community, school, and family.
I have learned a lot from my experience in Argentina not only about the culture but also about myself. I learned that I’m a lot more capable of Spanish and normal conversations than I was before. When we left Phoenix I had 3 really good friends on the trip at the end of it I ended up with 11. I also learned that sometimes when I need something I need to speak up instead of just thinking it’s not a big deal. For example, when I ran out of cash I should have spoke up earlier to Mr. Borboa or Sra. Freeman instead of making loans with the other boys.
The Spanish element was definitely something I was skeptical about when going to Argentina. I was really scared to not be able to talk to my host mom or not be able to deliver my presentation with confidence. The first time I was exposed to speaking Spanish was ordering breakfast in the Buenos Aires airport, it was hard because I wasn’t sure how to ask for something but I quickly learned it’s not that hard. Being around Spanish words and advertisements I think helped me the most. Guillermo told me that the best way to learn Spanish is to listen to it on music or see it on billboards. I learned simple grammar from some of the advertisements in Argentina that I eventually used while in Sante Fe. The time the presentation came around I felt pretty confident in myself and was pretty proud of myself because a year agoI had no idea I would be speaking in front of a crowd of Argentinians in their native language.
My overall growth and knowledge that I gained from Argentina is unrivaled, I learned so much about culture, language, and how to treat other people. I feel that coming back from Argentina I have became a better person, just overall a nicer guy to people. I will love to use the Spanish language more in Arizona and my goal is to have a full on conversation in Spanish with someone from Mexico or any Spanish speaking country by the end of the summer. This trip has taught me so many things a textbook or a lecture could not about Argentina and myself, I’m so grateful that I was lucky enough to go on this wonderful immersion.
In my time in Santa Fe, Argentina, I changed. I was subjected to many things I had never done. My biggest change was emotional. I had been connecting with my family on a deep level even through a language barrier. My little brother and I were especially close. Due to Lucas being so busy with school and sports, my closest family member was Alvaro. We really bonded even if it was through FIFA 17. The first Sunday I was there, we walked to mass together from his apartment. We spent a lot of time together, especially because his schedule was not as demanding as Lucas’s. Alvaro and I would also sit together at Lucas’s soccer games, drinking maté and talking about his life. We clicked pretty well, I’ve never had a little brother. It was interesting being an older brother. We never fought like real brothers, but he did occasionally try to wrestle me. He was only 3 years younger than me. Lucas’s parents were unbelievably kind. They devoted all of their spare time to keep me entertained and interested, which wasn’t hard since I had never done anything they do for fun. Fabiana, my “mother,” was like a guardian angel. I had been extremely sick one night and had continuously checked in on me to make sure I was doing okay or needed anything the whole night. I had a pretty rough fever and cold which I don’t think I would have recovered so quickly from if she was not so attentive. I was very grateful to call them my parents. Marcello, my “father” was easily one of the most outgoing and genuine people I’ve ever met. Our car rides together would not go interrupted for longer than 5 minutes without a wave or greeting from one of his friends, a new face every time. He seemed like the mayor of the city. My first night back, he had eased me into my new home without trouble. I owe my success in the transition to him. He was extremely hospitable. Finally, Lucas was my main man on the trip. Our relationship had began strong when he came here to the U.S. and had strengthened when I went there. When I first got off the bus and we started catching up, it was like meeting with a childhood best friend. I really felt as if he was my twin, my Argentinian mirror of myself, reflecting everything we admired about each other. The things I learned from my family changed me for the better.
Looking back on the trip, I have learned so much. Now that it has been a little over a week of being back in the United States, I can recall one experience that stuck with me. It was the first Monday evening in Santa Fe. After we had a delicious dinner of ravioli, I worked on my Spanish homework while Fausto (my Argentine exchange brother) worked on his “contrato” which is a written report that serves as an assessment on what he has learned in the class. Meanwhile, I worked on getting new Argentine vocabulary such as “chompa” which is a polo shirt and “copado” which means good. We worked at the dinner table that was in the family room. The table took up half of the room. To the right, there was a wall with a painting. To the left, there was a shelf with a TV, picture frames and there was a heater next to the shelf. At first I didn’t know it was a heater but when I got close to it I could feel the heat. During that time, a soccer game was on the TV. The two teams were Union (Fausto’s favorite team) and Estudiantes. I wasn’t watching the game but I knew whenever Union lost the ball because Fausto would always complain and go on a rant about how bad Union was playing. When we both finished our homework, we watched the final minutes of the game and sadly, Union lost. Just by seeing the look Fausto had in his face, I saw how religious he was about the game. When the final whistle blew on the TV, I said “Chingaos” (which is a funny slang term some of my friends taught me) and he laughed. I’m not sure why, but he always found that word to be extremely funny. I felt like a comedian. A few minutes later, Fran (Fausto’s older brother) walked in and he made mate. That was the first time I got to try mate. In a discussion with Fran and Fausto, I learned about the origins of Fausto’s family. His family is from Italy and his great Grandmother is Italian, which lets everyone in his family have an Italian passport. Before coming to Argentina I already knew that the culture was largely influenced by European culture but it was amazing to experience it. That also has an effect Argentine Spanish. It is closer to Castellano and I learned that my Spanish has improved a lot by just living in an environment that uses that language. I have also noticed that I am a lot more willing to step out of my comfort zone. I guess I should thank all of my new friends for that. They really helped me be more open and I am really grateful for that. I feel that everything I that I took from this amazing journey will help me be a better student, son and friend. Just for that, I cannot be more grateful to everyone who was with me on this unforgettable experience.
I remember one moment clearly during the trip in which, using the best Spanish I could, I tried to explain to a new Argentine friend what I thought was so cool about my excursion to Argentina. I tried to tell her how interesting I thought the relationship of the United States was on the rest of the world, in this case the country of Argentina. She responded to me in Spanish, "¿En serio? Es obvio, creo" (Really? It’s obvious, I think.). With that response I knew I hadn’t gotten my point across. What I found so, in plain terms, crazy with this relationship between my home and someone else’s home 5,500 miles away is how I could experience it in the people. Before this exchange, I had never once listened to an Argentine song, whereas a friend of my brother Panchi could recite all of Eminem’s "Rap God." I had never watched an Argentine television show, but the majority of teenagers I had met had seen the Netflix show Prison Break. It was obvious, just like my friend said, of how important America’s influence was. I just had never experienced it. Sure enough I knew it from numbers and graphs on television, but what I learned about my country, my culture, myself, was how much of an impact what I find normal could have to shape someone else’s reality.
My trip to Argentina had the same kind of effect on me, but in a reverse way. There was something so genuine about Santa Fe, the weathered streets, the kind new faces, or Panchi’s unbelievably lovely family, that just took hold of me. In the same way Argentina had adopted so many American customs, so too did I want to adopt Argentine customs. For instance, at any opportunity I had, I tried to use my Spanish, try to make it a little better. I noticed as I did this, as I asked questions in Spanish at dinner, as I talked about my home in Spanish to new friends, I could speak and understand a lot more by the time the trip came to a close. Conversations where before all I would here was a flury of rolled "r’s" and "juh" sounds turned into full sentences, even paragraphs (occasionally) that I could pick up on. I left Santa Fe feeling more confident in my Spanish, and therefore feeling more at home.
That’s what was so hard about leaving, I had to work hard to be there (speaking and living in another language is incredibly exhausting) and because of that I felt such a strong connection to Santa Fe. But I will try to keep that trip alive by doing the same thing in Santa Fe here in Phoenix. I won’t speak in Spanish everywhere I go (that might not go over well). But I will put effort in, try to enjoy each moment as much as possible, make lasting connections with other people, learn about new cultures, make myself better, so that when I go to bed each night, it will be as hard to say goodbye to the day as it was to leave my family in Santa Fe. That’s how I’ll know I’ve done my best.
It’s been a week since our group arrived back in Phoenix. It’s been difficult to adjust back to the normal schedule for the US. All of us are on our own, separate ways. As I sit here, at Brophy after school, I’m near the Ignatius statue. It’s similar to the Inmaculada Jesus fountain, but it’s of Brophy. I want to do one more examen. For those of you that are unaware, the examen is an Ignatian prayer of self-reflection that we all do every day after lunch at school.
How is (was) God at work in my life?
God worked in my life in two main ways in my life: in the Montyn family as well a man Juan and I encountered. On my first night, my family and I sat together around the table and had some delicious asado the traditional beef in Argentina. I had trouble cutting the meat itself, and asked to borrow my host dad’s knife. He obliged before getting up from the table and placing a giant machete by my side. I laughed for a moment, loving how direct he was in solving the problem, and how something like this wouldn’t happen in America. A few days later, as Juan and I went to the bus stop, a guy in a sputtering car called to us and asked us to push his car down the block to help him get it started. It took a few miles, but we got him going. Juan helped someone just because they were in need of our help. I learned that in Argentina, it didn’t matter who it was or what they needed, you stepped beside them and helped them with their problem.
How has I responded to God’s presence in my life?
Personally, I think that I’ve tried to respond in a few ways. The first is trying to speak as much Spanish as possible. I don’t have a class for Spanish next year, so I’ve found myself speaking to whomever is willing to bear with me on my ever-developing Spanish. I’ve also learned that I’m naturally inquisitive with all language, not just English. Because of that, I’ve asked people what certain words mean. Additionally, I’ve tried to being back the same community aspect back with me from Argentina. It doesn’t matter who someone is, or what they’ve done to you, but what matters is that you need help. i will stand beside someone and help them. I’ve also responded to God in my life by acknowledging that I still have some growing to do, especially going into my senior year.
How am I called to respond now?
As mentioned above, I want to foster a community for all on campus. It doesn’t matter what creed, nationality, etc., but I will support them and give them a hand when they fall. I also think I want to volunteer more in my community. Not as some sort of savior or person seeking to grow from the experience, but to be there for others. To use what I’ve learned and to teach others.
Thank you for following me on this trip. If you’re reading this as someone who is on the fence about this trip, I strongly urge you to go.
Saint Ignatius of Loyola, pray for us.
The end of Argentina came much faster than I expected it to come. While I was in Argentina, the time went by very fast, before I knew it, it was time to return home. Although I wish the exchange would have been for a longer period of time, I still enjoyed it alot and feel as though it changed me for the better. I am now more open to growth, I am more open to meeting new people and trying new things now. I feel as though I am also much more appreciative for what I have due to seeing all of the poverty in Argentina. I now see how lucky I am to be growing up in the United States and to go to the school that I attend. When I was in Argentina, I not only changed as a person, but I was also able to improve my Spanish quite a bit. My spanish is now much better than it used to be and I can now speak with better grammar. I am now speaking Spanish more at home with my mother and even a bit with my brother. My cousin came to visit me as a surprise for my birthday which was on the 15th, and I was speaking quite a bit of spanish with her as well while we normally speak english. I would like to volunteer at more places in order to help the homeless more because I see how much the poverty has hit certain parts of Argentina and I would like to spread love to people who live in those conditions. I would also like to try and make more friends and just talk to more people. Now that I am back in Arizona, I will be speaking more Spanish with my friends and family, I will be more grateful for everyone and everything in my life, and I will also be more open to new things. I am so grateful that I was able to go on this exchange trip, I now feel as though I truly have changed for the better and I feel as though I have made many new friends. I did a lot of things in Argentina that were enjoyable such as horse riding, fishing, dancing, etc. I feel as though this was not the end of my friendship with Lucas, but the beginning. Lucas was like a brother to me and I hope to see him soon again.
My final meal with Jose and his family was just a few hours before we left. Jose’s mom made me empanadas because she knew they were my favorite. We sat and I practiced my usual routine of thinking of questions and dialogue in Spanish to keep the conversation interesting. One aspect that was different about this meal was instead of me asking all the questions Jose’s parents asked me specifically one: How was Argentina? I sat there reflecting on my experience. I thought about how Argentina has helped me be more open to new experiences. It has helped me become a better friend to people around me. It has inspired a deeper wanting to master the Spanish language. Lastly it made me observe on how I can bring change to the world. My experience has pushed me to be more open to different experiences because throughout my whole time in Argentina I encountered new experiences whether the food, the schedule or the people. I was unable to return to the food I enjoyed or the safety of my family or friends all the time, which help me become more open to new experiences like living in a other country. My new openness will help me during my senior year and for the rest of my life for when I encounter new or unfamiliar experiences. Next, my experience has shaped me into better friend. When Jose and I got paired, neither of us had much in common. This was a challenge, but I was able to learn how to befriend a person that I do not share very similar interests with. Even with our differences, we were able to create memorable experiences together as good friends. My experience with Jose will help me in my senior year, but even more so in my freshman year in college when I have to befriend all different types of people that I may not share similar interest with. Third, I reflected on how Argentina has inspired me to want to learn Spanish even more. Even though I was able to have a conversation in Spanish, I was unable to have complex conversations. I want to be fluent in Spanish so whenever I have a conversation with another person in Spanish there are no barriers or limits on the conversation. This inspiration will help next year in my Spanish class and hopefully will help me become fluent by the end of my senior year. Lastly, I reflected upon how I can bring a change in the world. I saw the challenges Argentina faces because of its weak economy, and I saw how some of these challenges could be fixed or faced. Not only did I see how some of the challenges or problems could be resolved, but I also saw how many lives would be impacted if they were. This made me reflect on what problems other parts of the world are facing and if some of those problems are able to be fixed. It brought up the question in my mind of how am I going to work to resolve some of these problems in the world. I reflected upon all these different aspect of my experience in Argentina. Since I could not say all of this with my limited Spanish, I thought up a sentence I could say to Jose’s parents. It took me a second to put the sentence together, but I said “Esta experiencia va a cambiar mi vida.” This experience is going to change my life.