November Newsletter

Sally Fifield. November 2014 YAGM Newsletter.

Times Flies in November!

I cannot believe that it is already December! I feel as if I blinked and November was over. I suppose it is true what they say, "Times flies when you are having fun" because November was a very fun month. Here are the big events from my November in Argentina (and Uruguay!).

Retiro Espiritual (Spiritual Retreat)

Every three months my program has a retreat for the 8 volunteers that are in Argentina and Uruguay. I decided to head to Buenos Aires a couple days early to explore the big city with a volunteer who lives there. A bus ride from Corrientes to Buenos Aires is about 13 hours. Taking buses across the country is a common way of traveling. When I arrived, I spent the day strolling the streets, taking a self guided (and created) tour of the restaurants and cafes of the city, and talking in English with the other volunteers.

From Buenos Aires, we all traveled to Uruguay. We spent our spiritual retreat at Centro Emmanuel, an ecumenical retreat center and working organic farm. This was a much needed retreat for all of the volunteers, me incuded. To be able to talk about the struggles of the first three months, how to overcome these struggles, and support each other was a great way to reflect on my experiences in Corrientes. My biggest struggle the past three months is feeling comfortable and confident in myself. Not being able to express myself fully and freely in Castellano, the dialect of Spanish spoken here, was not something I was prepared for. I was feeling like a burden to conversations because of my level of Spanish. Ultimately, I was being the biggest barrier to myself for creating deeper relationships and adancing with my Spanish. Just being back from the retreat for over a week I can already see and feel the difference as I let go of those negative sentiments.
While part of the retreat was to explore these feelings, the other part was to have fun together and learn more about the farm we were at. We learned the process of making cheese from the cows on the farm. We also celebrated Thanksgiving together and cooked recipes from our families. I had the honor of cooking Grammy Char's green beans. I think the turned out pretty well!
After the retreat, I went to Montevideo to see where two of the volunteers are living and later to a suburb outside of Buenos Aires to visit another volunteer's placement. It was a long ten days of traveling, but I returned reenergized and ready to dive into my work and community.

Investigación de La Feria Franca (Research of the Farmers Market)

Graduating with a degree in sociology and Spanish, sometimes friends and family would joke that I graduated with a degree in how to be a barista... insinuating that I would not use my degrees for my future work. Well! HA! I am using both in my work here! I have started an investigative research project around the consumer opinion of the farmer's market in Corrientes. Everyday in November I went out to the different farmer's market and engaged in diaglogue and interviews with the clients of the market. I am still processing the research, so I will let you know how it goes in the upcoming newsletter.
It has been great to push myself to speak with strangers and get rid of the fear of speaking out loud in public with my accent. I have formed a great bond with the farmers at each market. They are like a family to me here. Not to mention how great it is to have fresh, affordable, and quality vegetables available every day!

Día de Acción de Gracias (Thansgiving)

I celebrated Thursday by skyping with family all day while cooking and preparing my own pumpkin pie. It was so wonderful to talk with cousins, aunts, uncles, mom, dad, and sister! It was ALMOST like I was there. On Friday, I invited folks from the church that is hosting me and coworkers from my placement at the farmer's market. I had low expectations. I thought maybe 8 or 10 folks would come, but 24 peoples ended up filling my patio! I was so honored that people wanted to share in this tradition with me. As we passed food around the table, each person also shared reasons why they can give thanks this year. To spend Thanksgiving eating in the moonlight with my community here is something I am truly thankful for.
Saturday I had yet another Thanksgiving to celebrate with friends in Corrientes. I think I have perfected making stuffing, mashed potatoes, and pumpkin pie- all from scratch and most of the produce and the chicken was the from farmer's market.

Thanks for reading!

Until next time,

Sally Jane