Have you ever felt like something wasn't quite right? That's how Joo and I have felt for the past week. Our translation deadlines seemed a bit weird, correspondence was coming at a different time than normal, people were calling at strange hours, TV shows didn't match their scheduled time, our favorite local shops seemed to be opening and closing differently... what could be going on???? It suddenly hit me that this was about the time of the year for Daylight Savings Time. Could that be it? No, because we GAIN an hour in the fall, and our twilight zone was happening in the other direction... we were always late for things. Pause now to see if you can solve our mystery, and then scroll down for the answer...
We finally solved the mystery when we showed up at a volunteer center one day at a time we believed to be 20 minutes early. I was afraid no one would be there, but the other volunteers were already deep in a discussion and the director, with a smile, gently chastised us for being "extremely" late. He showed me his watch, which was an hour different from mine, and exclaimed "Oh, I see! You never switched your watch!" and started laughing. Then it hit me. We were in the SOUTHERN hemisphere and here, the time moves FORWARD in October!!!
After we got that figured out and caught up on what we missed, the group hopped on public transport to go to the poorest neighborhood in Buenos Aires, Barrio de Villa Fatima. The area had been a garbage dump 30 years ago, until immigrants from Peru, Bolivia, and northern Argentina started moving in in droves. The population density soon grew far beyond what health standards would consider safe and the problem continues to worsen.
That said, Joo and I were both surprised at how clean the neighborhood was. Evidently, there has been a government cleanup going on for the past month. The government intends to bulldoze the central section of Villa Fatima and I'm guessing the cleanup program was somehow connected to bureaucracy.
I was more interested in how Joo would handle the situation. Growing up in a Mennonite community, I often had opportunities to volunteer in the past, but Joo hadn't. In fact, this was actually her first time volunteering in a formal way. To make things a bit harder, our assignment was to help students with their homework, and so Joo had to do everything in Spanish!
Nevertheless, she interacted beautifully with them. While I was trying to explain to a six year old girl, Camila, what the moon was (she appeared to have never heard of the existence of the moon, even when I drew it and explained everything in Spanish, and later her teacher did the same...) Joo was working with two girls, Analis and Liliana, on their vocabulary. I couldn't believe how much she had picked up during our four months in South America!
All in all, Joo had a really good time and is excited to do some more volunteer work wherever we end up settling down in the U.S. Speaking of settling down, I'll give you just a quick update on how the decision process is shaping up. We've done a series of eliminations and now have only two final options left that we are seriously considering at this point...
1. Ohio University (Athens, Ohio)
2. Arizona State University- Teach for America or similar program (Phoenix, Arizona)
That's probably all the further we'll go in narrowing it down at this point. Now I'll just go through the full application for both routes and wait to see what their decisions are in late February or early March.
In other news, we have only 3 days remaining here at Kristophe's apartment, before we head west for the vineyards of Mendoza... time to start packing again!