Experience Córdoba, Argentina
Argentina: there is no simple way to capture the life, history and spirit of this remarkable country. The warmth and openness and generosity of its people are palpable; the range and variety of its geography and cultural expressions striking. Buenos Aires and the Rio del Plata region: in many ways the political and cultural heart of Argentina. Salta and Jujuy in the Northwest, steeped in a rich Andean cultural traditions; Misiones in the Northeast, with magnificent Iguazu Falls and the still-vivid presence of Guaraní culture. Wild, beautiful Patagonia to the South, a region of vast glaciers and immense mountains. It is a country that gave us Jorge Luis Borges and Julio Cortázar; Mercedes Sosa; tango, gauchos and asado. Maradona and Messi. Papa Francisco. And a long and storied Jesuit presence. It is also a country facing many social, political, economic and environmental challenges. A relatively young (thirty years) democracy. A place of flux and change; of immense possibility.
The program is located in Córdoba, Argentina, a vibrant and culturally rich city of over a million inhabitants. It is situated close to the center of the country, in the foothills of the Sierras Chicas on the Susquía river, approximately four hundred miles northwest of Buenos Aires. Its nickname ‘La Docta’ refers to Córdoba’s importance as a center of education in Argentina. It is home to six universities, the oldest of which, founded by the Jesuits, dates to the year 1613. When classes are in session, the city teems with more than 100,000 university students. The city also has a rich cultural heritage, embodied in its theatres, museums, architecture and clubs. There is a lively ‘street scene’ with musicians, actors and jugglers, and a weekly paseo de los artes along the La Cañada in downtown Córdoba. And it certainly takes its futbol seriously, with major matches being held in Mario Kempes stadium on the northwest side of the city.
In much of the rest of the country, Córdoba is also known and appreciated for its proximity to the Sierras Chicas, a beautiful range of mountains that rises just to the west of the city. They are easily reachable for day trips. And when you are in need of a more dramatic break, you can travel to Patagonia in the south, Iguazu Falls or Ibera Wetlands to the north, Buenos Aires to the south-east, or the Andes to the west. Chile, Uruguay, Peru, Bolivia and Brazil are all within reach and countries students have enjoyed traveling to in past cohorts.
Students participating in the Casa de la Mateada program will encounter the social, political and enconomic challenges of Argentina in different ways, especially in the praxis sites. Sharing life with ordinary Argentines, often in difficult and challenging circumstances, offers students a chance to experience the reality of the country beyond the images offered in tourist brochures and to form their own opinions about the 'real Argentina.' It also offers them an opportunity to test what it might mean to accompany and be accompanied by others whose life experience is often very different from your own.