"Personal involvement with innocent suffering, with the injustice others suffer, is the catalyst for solidarity, which then gives rise to intellectual inquiry and moral reflection."
+ Peter-Hans Kolvenbach S. J., Former Superior General of the Society of Jesus
The heart of the Casa program lies in the opportunity to accompany people within the local community. Based on your academic and personal interests, you are paired up with fellow classmates and assigned to a praxis site, a community in or around Córdoba that faces various challenges that may include lack of resources, little access to services, prejudices based on immigration status, environmental toxins, lack of employment, and other issues. For two days a week during the entire semester, this experience of accompaniment and immersion gives you the chance to develop genuine relationships with members of these local communities and to learn, firsthand, about their needs, hopes, dreams, and experiences. These interactions facilitate and deepen your learning about the reality of their lives. This experiential learning is then intentionally integrated with traditional classroom-based academic study.
Part of your Casa experience will include a field placement in what we refer to as a praxis site. Praxis, a term originating from the Greek, is the process by which a concept, lesson, or skill is practiced or enacted. In the praxis site, you will be placed within a small community where you will accompany and develop unique relationships with the local people. Learning amidst the gritty reality of these communities will be one of the most important aspects of your immersion experience.
The Praxis Site: Barrio Argüello is an urban barrio located in the northwest quadrant of the city of Córdoba. The praxis community consists of about 38 families in a poor neighborhood around the home of a small community of Salesian nuns. Their order began working in the area in 2001 and then moved into a house located in the barrio in 2004. Their house includes a small chapel space (with plans to build a new chapel) and an addition that contains the afterschool programs for kids. The community struggles with issues related to poverty, including challenges to nutrition, family stability, and alcohol use that are exasperated by Argentina’s high inflation and economic instability.
Role of the student: Mornings are spent in home visits with families in the company of the sisters, as well as assisting the nuns in various tasks (hand crafts, for instance) in their community. The afternoons will be spent with children in the community who participate in the after school program (apoyo escolar).
Nuestro Hogar III
The Praxis Site: Nuestro Hogar III is a severely impoverished and marginalized community located outside the boundary of the city of Cordoba, in its southeast
quadrant. This is a community built on land that used to be used as a trash disposal area, and homes are built illegally (although the government provides some electricity and water). Many families have immigrated from neighboring countries, including Bolivia and Peru, with men who work making bricks, and women who stay home with their families or work as domestic laborers. Despite the challenging circumstances of this community, there is a vibrant community center, including an aftercare program, workshops and job training (welding, electronics, sewing, etc.), and a small church. This community center serves as the praxis site for students.
Role of the student: Students participate in the activities of the community center, as needed, throughout the day. Home visits will be possible, in the company of community members.
The Praxis Site: La Luciernaga is a community center located near the center of Córdoba whose primary mission is to create a sense of belonging and hope, as well as meaningful work, for young men and women of the streets. The Center publishes a magazine, La Luciernaga, well-known throughout Córdoba for its strong commitment to community social justice, with articles that reflect the experiences and perspectives of the poor and marginalized. The magazine is sold on the streets of Córdoba by the “canillitos” (young men and women associated with the center) and provides a job for many who would otherwise be unemployed. The center also provides a strong sense of home for the canillitos and the extended community of friends and supporters of La Luciernaga (students who have worked at La Luciernaga describe it as having a similar feeling to Fr. Greg Boyle’s Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles).
Role of the Student: Students participate in the life of the center in a variety of ways, accompanying the canillitos in their rounds through the city, enjoying meals and conversations with them at the Center, helping with clothing distribution, and contributing in other different ways to the work at the center.