A case study for both success and ‘should-haves’, Argentina provides the perfect context for learning about development.

Argentina can be considered a case study for success. With bountiful natural resources, a highly educated and diverse population, and an industrialized economy, Argentina is a strong member of the G-20 group of economic powers. As the birth-place of the tango, Che Guevara, and Jorge Luis Borges (not to mention Lionel Messi), Argentina’s cultural and historical legacies have impacts that spread far beyond its borders.

However, Argentina is also a case study in ‘should haves’. Since reaching a peak as the world’s seventh-wealthiest nation in 1920, the twentieth century has seen Argentina follow an often tortuous path of political turmoil and economic crisis. Traveling through and experiencing this vital and vibrant nation provides the perfect context for considering development models and the role of external forces in mitigating (or exacerbating) crisis.

Sample Itinerary

We fly into magnificent Buenos Aires, one of the world’s great cities. Following a thorough health and safety review, Envoys staff lead a ‘hopes and fears’ session for all participants.

After a re-affirmation of our Spanish language pledge, we move through the city at a relaxed pace, stopping for lunch in the waterfront Puerto Madero district. During the day’s explorations, students undertake a series of ‘communicative challenge’ activities designed to push their linguistic limits. We pass through the famed Colón Theatre, one of the best Opera Houses in the world and close our day learning about the history and traditions of La Recoleta Cemetery.

We rise early and depart by local train for San Isidro, where we tour the cobbled streets and contrast the towering 1898 Cathedral with the modern Rugby Museum. Prior to our explorations, students are given the challenge of creating a tourism guide for the area, including prices, times, and points of interest. This task provides motivation and a framework to ensure constant interactions with the local people. During the afternoon, we journey along the delta of the beautiful El Tigre river, then return by train to Buenos Aires.

After breakfast, students are divided into teams (each with a chaperone) for a Spanish scavenger hunt through San Telmo, the city’s oldest barrio and home to some of its most fascinating architecture. The afternoon provides us with a unique opportunity to visit the famed ‘El Monumental” soccer stadium, home of Argentina’s national team, the Albicelestes. In the evening, we experience another Argentinian passion: a succulent beef dinner.

We depart for the ‘Pampa Argentina’, the grass-land region surrounding the capital city. We begin with a visit to a typical farm, where we witness traditional ways of living from the land and inter-view rural farmworkers. The evening brings us ‘La Fiesta Gaucha’, a great time to practice our tango skills!

We break into small teams to explore the town and countryside, setting the stage for a lunchtime workshop session on the best use of natural resources and the interplay between political decisions and rural livelihoods. After a visit to the famed Museum Guachesco Ricardo Güiraldes, we return to our hotel for reflection and a close to the day.

Following breakfast, students have the opportunity to ‘get their hands dirty’ and learn the art of silversmithing! This communicative challenge of learning from a foreign native pushes student language development while also building confidence in their own abilities. We return to Buenos Aires in the late afternoon, arriving in time to take in an evening tango performance.

We travel by plane to Puerto Iguaçu, arriving in the early afternoon. During the evenings students practice and record stories for home, explaining both the experiences they have had and the lessons that they have drawn.

We rise early for our visit to Iguaçu, one of the world’s most impressive waterfalls. Considered one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, Iguacu is both a local treasure and international landmark. We return to the town and move through the community, speaking with the locals to understand how the closeness to the Falls impacts livelihoods.

We journey to the historic San Ignacio Mission, founded by the Jesuits in 1632. Our tour and interviews provide the context for a discussion on the ‘missionary movement’ as the earliest model of development aid. Following lunch, we stop by the Wanda Mines, an operating gemstone quarry, for a tour of the facilities.

In the morning, we travel to the indigneous Iriapu community, learning about their traditional ways of life and how they have been impacted by modernity. Following our flight back to the capital, students engage in a guided discussion on the definition of ‘development’, drawing examples from what they have experienced during the program.

We ‘seize the day’ and journey across the border by the Buquebus ferry to the city of Colonia in Uruguay. After lunch and a discussion of the differences between arriving in a new country by sea and air, we break into groups for a walking tour of the historic Colonia del Sacremento.

During the morning, we return to the old quarter of Colonia to engage with the locals and learn more about the past of this UNESCO World Heritage site. For lunch, we try ‘the best sandwich in the world” the chivito uruguayo, and then return to Buenos Aires by Buquebus. We close the program with a discussion on our learning points and remaining questions on the development within the region.

We board a late morning plane for the international flight home.

Envoys Testominals

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