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Volunteering in Buenos Aires

June 01, 2018
by CEA MOJO

My name is Pranav Raj and I am a student at the University of Michigan, studying Business and Spanish. I chose to study abroad in Buenos Aires this semester to challenge myself intellectually in a new environment and to improve my Spanish skills.

After living in Buenos Aires, Argentina for about a month, I began to love the city and its people, and I decided I wanted to get involved with the community. So, I started volunteering at a local homeless shelter, Fundación Pobre de Asis, twice a week. On Tuesdays, I teach short English classes, which we call charlas de ingles. On Fridays, I serve lunch to many hungry people starting at 12pm and later coach them on how to use a computer, during the hora libre de computación. Many of the people who attend this do not have a home, much less a computer, so I help teach them basic functions and help enjoy their time with technology.

 Volunteering experience in Buenos Aires
 
 My Friend, Juanito

Here is a picture of a man named Juanito, who I have gotten to know through my frequent visits to the shelter. He is homeless and let me know of this on the first day that I met him. His openness with me lets me know that he is comfortable around me and willing to share anything. I hope, through further visits, I can bring this level of comfort and ease to Juanito and many others at this shelter. I want to play my best role in being a positive person and a friend in their lives.

Most of the people are very friendly and interested in me, as it is clear I am not from Argentina. It is a very humbling experience to go to the shelter once or twice a week and realize how the other half lives. I know I often get caught up in my first world problems, such as having too much homework or having to walk to school every day. I do not acknowledge the bubble that I live in. It is a privilege to have the opportunity to go to school and receive an education, unlike most of the people at the shelter who didn’t even have a chance to finish primary school due to financial difficulties. Volunteering at the shelter has made me realize how lucky I am to have the resources and luxuries in my life, which I often take for granted. It has put a smile on my face and made me want to give back to the communities that have helped build me into the person I am today.

Pranav R. is the Spring 2018 student in Buenos Aires, Argentina. 


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