Student Voices

Catherine Goggins
Virginia Tech
Major: Agricultural Economics

Casa de la Mateada and my time in Cordoba fed me in a much more than literal sense, although Marta’s lovingly prepared meals and asados did quickly ruin this ex-vegetarian. Dorothy Day said “Food for the body is not enough. There must be food for the soul.” My experience was faith affirming and soul feeding – deepening my sense of joy, growing a more resilient sense of hope, and challenging me to walk with others. Classes, community discussions, and readings provided food for thought, as did the constantly challenging, humbling, adventure of expressing and hearing others' ideas in Spanish; learning from such warm and distinct culture; the gift of time with friends from Florencio Sanchez and the CASA community. It all helped me begin to rethink my understanding of God, presence, global dimensions of loving my neighbor, and teatime.

 

‌Dan Letchinger
DePaul University
Major: Advertising‌


The pillars of Casa de la Mateada structured an experience that went far beyond any expectations. The act of accompaniment forever changed my intent and interaction with people. To engage with a person without a motive, without an agenda, to sit with them, and just be is the most profound skill I could have hoped to learn. I practiced this mentality with fellow Casa students, professors, friends at Praxis, and per Argentine culture, complete strangers. Now that I am home, I cannot help but feel at ease when I speak to any person, and that provides a deep comfort I would not have known without Casa.  I shifted towards a more authentic self. An internet-free home made me reassess my internet usage altogether, including the role of content consumption and social media. My curriculum abroad showed me the extensive power I hold with my socio-economic status and empowered me to do something with it.   Hands down the most revolutionary period of my life.

 

 

‌Lorena Brothers
Loyola Marymount University
Major: Sociology

My immersion in the Casa de la Mateada Program was a transformative experience that I realized through community, spirituality, solidarity, and most of all love. The intertwining of every aspect of the program was a soul-infused experience. As I look back, I can see that I was moved daily, by people, nature, and God working within me. I would describe it as a time in which I felt my senses livening up to the depth of presence. I gained the strength to bear witness to the harsh realities of the world. I was moved to be part of the change I want to see and to be a voice for the voiceless. Although a few months have gone by, the internal and external shifts as a transforming being and an evolving earth continue to be felt within me. 

Jake Wild Crea
DePaul University
Major: Peace, Justice and Conflict


Fostering the capacity to love is the greatest investment you can make in your life. In four short months, being part of the Casa Program in Córdoba helped me engage in the practice of love. This was done through community, academics, spirituality and by accompanying the people; through the totality of the experience of being there! Go experience something that will make you more human, more yourself! Seriously, GO.

‌Amanda Montez
Loyola Marymount University
Major: Liberal Studies (Spanish Emphasis)


Casa was anything but a conventional study abroad program and I loved that. Casa de la Mateada creates an environment where you actually feel as though you are being fully immersed in a country by walking with its people. The classes create a space where you can delve deeper into yourself, your ideals for the world, and the harsh realities that many people in Argentina continually face. And living in community creates a constant support system filled with love and laughter. Casa de la Mateada was a beautiful and life-changing experience. I cannot think of Argentina without seeing the smiling faces of second graders at my praxis site, without remembering the sharing of mate (the famous and always present Argentine tea), or the constant laughter that filled the house.  These are the memories that I carry within me. And they have made all the difference.

 

Alyssa Perez
Loyola Marymount University
Major: Theological Studies and Political Science

Being in CASA has impacted my life in a way that I cannot even being to understand.  I have grown to see the world in a whole new way, and this has brought a lot of perspective to my life.  I met some of the most beautiful people in my praxis community, and they taught me how to love and be a better, more whole person.  I have tried to bring back this love and intentionality to every part of my life here in the U.S. Argentina engaged me intellectually and spiritually and I have been opened to the world in a way I never even knew possible.  Once this happens, we are ruined for life.  But I wouldn't want to have it any other way

 

Abbey King
Regis University
Major: Peace and Justice & History

Surprisingly, the most life-altering part of my experience in Casa de la Mateada was not directly related to community, academics, spirituality, or accompaniment. No, what really changed my way of being in the world during my time in Cordoba was riding the bus. Spending about three hours a day waiting for the bus, riding the bus, or walking home from the bus stop gave me a lot of time to think. I had three hours built into every day to truly be present to myself and to my little corner of Cordoba. I spent my time on the bus observing my surroundings, being immersed in castellano, and absorbing as much local knowledge of street names, fashion trends, and bus etiquette as I could. My mind had the space to wander and ruminate upon big questions concerning time, love, happiness, and siestas. Riding the bus reminded me that I need to slow down and showed me a practical, viable way to do so. It taught me how to be mindful, how to let my brain work on a philosophical level, and how to be comfortable in my own company. 

 

Savannah Varela
Loyola Marymount University
Major: Psychology

I think of the incredible people I met and came to know during my time there (people I never would have encountered if I had not chosen to pack up and move to a different continent for 4 months!). "There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered." Since my return to the U.S., I have been admiring the world around me with a new perspective, an invaluable gift that I credit to the more relaxed pace of life in Argentina and the courses that showed us how to truly see the world around us. Whether it was eating delicious food at an asado with my friends and professors in the beautiful surrounding nature of Cordoba, hugging the three-year-olds in my class during praxis, or exploring Buenos Aires and Uruguay during spring break, I credit all of my experiences in Argentina to altering my point of view and impacting my self and my life-direction. 

 

Coco Frieling
Loyola Marymount University
Major: Business

I am typically very shy when I first meet people. Because of this, I felt some anxiety as the moment of my arrival in Córdoba drew close. But, to my amazement, my  insecurity-forming-shyness never really took hold. Rather, everyone I met in Argentina spoke to me and questioned me with such open hearts, curiosity, and sincerity. If there was ever any judgment, it went unnoticed. Instead, I will always remember the feeling of my encuentros with others—feelings of truly existing, being, and caring for one another whilst in each other’s presence, feelings of placing human interaction and communal living at the very center of our lives. It is these sentiments and the associated practices that I have taken back with me to the States and which I hope to continue to practice and share with my peers in the US.

 

Krista Chinchilla
Loyola Marymount University
Major: Psychology

I wear three bracelets on my left hand. One is blue and white, like the Argentine flag. The other is brown. It has five beads woven into it. When I see it, it reminds me of two wonderful women I met at a parish about four blocks from our student house. One Sunday before mass, I had the pleasure of meeting Hermanas Adriana and Osanna. From that moment I met them, these lovely Salesian sisters greeted me with welcoming hugs, loving eyes, and traditional besos, or kisses to the cheek. Some Sundays we would have mate, a traditional Argentina drink, and exchange stories and pictures of loved ones and adventures we have had. I remember their bright and eager faces; I feel their warm embraces; and I see the unforgettable look in their eyes as they beheld me, loving me for all I was. It wasn’t until I met them that I understood the phrase “the Divine in me recognizes the Divine in you.” I saw Christ in their eyes. They have helped shape my idea of God’s love; I hope to help shape this feeling for others as well. I wear the bracelet to remind myself to work towards always expressing God’s love to others, even in the hardest or most mundane times.