These past few weeks have gone by really, really fast. I didn’t think I would be so emotional and quite in shock that this experience has flown by so rapidly, but…it has. I think as of now, what makes me most emotional is the fact that projects are beginning to pick up at a fast speed within the organization and the relationships I have established with folks have strengthen.
In terms of VOX, lately we have been working on several projects that I will unfortunately not be able to participate at the time of the event due to me leaving in a week. One of the biggest is called, Proyecto ASHOKA. This project is one of my favorites because VOX will be going to neighborhoods outside of downtown Rosario and give presentations on sexual diversity as well as provide the opportunity for folks to get tested for HIV. At least three times a week, we all sit down and go over PowerPoint presentations that talk about topics such as sexually transmitted infections, how to have an effective testing center, how do handle situations that may come about when a person is HIV positive, terminology within organizations and not medical centers, etc. I have been able to shadow in on two different meetings; one with a political party-organization and another with at a health clinic. Both were very interested in collaborating with us on this project and we are due to follow up this week with details regarding the actual day of presenting.
Another project that VOX is working on is in regards to June 28th; known for the police riots at the Stonewall bar that occurred in New York City back in the 60s. Grupo Jovenes, a sector within VOX, will be putting on a theatrical event in which folks will create a acting piece of the riots. Furthermore, other non-governmental organizations such as Comunidad Trans will be giving the opportunity to present either an acting piece, presentation, or dialogue. We are looking at recreating the theater into a 70s atmosphere with lots of life yet also a space where folks can actively be engaged and critic constructively.
So, VOX is now open for HIV testing two days a week (Tuesdays/Thursdays). These past few weeks we have seen a higher number of folks come in to get tested which is quite exciting! I love having people come to the office whether it is for testing, wanting condoms, or wanting to know more about the organization. On a typical Tuesday or Thursday, we can have from 3-6 people come and get tested. While folks wait, we provide them with LGBT magazines from organizations or businesses we are in solidarity as well give them the opportunity to participate on our HIV in young people survey.
A few weeks ago on May 17th known as International Day Against Homophobia, VOX had an event where we laid vinyl paper at the intersection of one of Rosario’s busiest streets creating a rainbow. This event got lots of attention that day both in Rosario as well as in Rafaela where the VOX team there was as well participating. I remember having to quickly lay the paper, flatten it out, etc all while pedestrians are walking and cars are honking their horns for us to get out of the street. In the end, it turned out SO GOOD! Additionally, we handed out flyers with information regarding the history of International Day Against Homophobia. We were able to get two local news channels cover our event and I was interviewed along with two other VOX members. This was my first time EVER being interviewed by the news and having to do it in Spanish was definitely a challenge. In the end, I did well seeing that random people came up to me afterwards and said they saw me on the news and that I spoke well in Spanish not being from Argentina (they introduced me as an exchange student participating on the event). I was not able to neither see myself nor find the video online…wish I had a copy to show you all haha.
Furthermore, the people in VOX have truly become a family for me. We have many team dinners where we will laugh at the random things that each of us do to dance around the office listening to Bob Marley or Nicki Minaj to have hardcore, in depth political, cultural, historical conversations ranging from the US government, Argentinian government, psychology, anthropology, music, and the list goes on. These are the times I value so, so dearly. I think one of the main reasons is because I am on a daily bases being exposed to looking at things from a different point of view that I am not always exposed to in the states as well as see true, life changing stories that leave you in shock and in tears at times. Some conversations get me heated, not going to lie, but the fact that we can all converse with one another and everyone will actually listen to you, its seriously amazing to me. I look back and see how shy I was when I first arrived and now I give input more or ask more questions and that came because the folks within VOX opened up and let me in. Just the other day, I was sitting down with them and I received a picture text from my friend back in Oregon with my graduating tassel and I began crying. Not because I was happy I was leaving and graduating within the next few weeks, but because reality has set and I am leaving. I worked hard to establish these relationships and seeing that I am not going to see them every day or at least once a week makes me sad. I know I will continue to stay in contact with folks and collaborate from Oregon, but I am just sad that this whole experience is coming to in an in 7 days. Still, I do have many priorities I must handle back in Oregon and I know that I will someday come back to Argentina or see them either in Oregon or in México, ha!
One a lighter note, we in VOX finally had an Argentinian asado!!! I was so happy because weeks were passing by and I was afraid I would not experience/taste the famous Argentinian meat. Below is a link to a video I create that shows our asado. Note: I made some guacamole and homemade salsa…all of them had never had it before and they loved it :D!
This past weekend, I traveled to the providence of Córdoba. I had planned this trip several weeks back, however I was not able to go due to the nationwide bus strikes. Note, they are so unexpected and no one knew when they would be up and going again. A WOU student studying in Argentina was stuck in the northern part of Argentina for more than a week until she was able to get back…yay for not leaving to Córdoba after they announced their strikes, ha! While in Córdoba, I traveled to Alta Gracia where I visited La Casa del Che Guevarra museum. This was definitely a place I wanted to visit before heading back and I am so happy I was able to make it happen. I learned a lot about Che in my sociology classes at WOU and saw pictures from his childhood home and knew that I had to see it with my own eyes. Below is a link to a video I created while visiting the museum:
I was in Córdoba for a total of 2 days, 1 night and stayed at a hostel known for young folks staying there and partying. Well, it was fun let me tell ya! They made an asado for dinner, had music, TV, people from Germany, France, Columbia, Argentina, and even a guy from Colorado. We all hanged at the hostel and then went dancing to one of the biggest gay clubs in ALL of Argentina, club Zen. The club was huge and packed! They played electronic music to pop to reggaeton and so forth. I only stayed about an hour and a half though because we did not head out until 3 in the morning and you’d think I’d be use to going out late now that I am on week 10, but no, still not use to going out so late!
One more week left…I still have souvenir shopping to do, say my good byes, eat/drink at my favorite bar, go dance, wrap up some projects, get mentally prepared to be back in reality, etc.
Wish me luck!