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Digital News AFS Reconquista Local Chapter

Number 5, May 2011

‘Mankind is a single body and each nation a part of that body’ Mustafa Kemal Atatürk

Nerses Torossian (AFS Reconquista), having mates in Kapadokya (Turkey)

AFS in Reconquista E-mail:  1544-4471

Connecting lives, Sharing Cultures

Connecting lives, Sharing Cultures

Updated Passport

AFS Rosario Radio Programme

On the first days of May, Ida Kjoes (AFS Norway), Eveliina Valkola (AFS Finland) and José Manuel Buyatti (AFS Reconquista) were invited to participate in a radio programme called ‘Updated


It was born on April, 2nd and it is divided in many interesting sections: sports, the horoscope, politics, travelling, interviews, music, culture, shows, technology, and much more. In general, it’s a topic-based programme but with a lot of different content. On of its main parts is dedicated to AFS, and you can listen to interviews around the world, from students, foreign people living in Argentina, host families, and AFS volunteers. ‘Updated Passport’ (or Pasaporte al día – its in Spanish) goes every Saturday from 20 to 22h. (Argentinian time) on Inter Radio Cultural

AFS volunteers from Rosario Local Chapter are the hosts of the programme and they are: Nadia Bello, Matías

Speranza & Santiago Valenti.

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During the interview, the guests answered Matias’ questions and they talked about their intercultural experience, especially about how it is to live inside another culture and family, how they value family and friends, as well as how they cope with the language and their first months here.

Just like a daughter

Connecting lives, Sharing Cultures

By Clara Bais Stechina, Myrthe Hanckmann’s Argentinian mum (AFS Netherlands) Wow!!! It’s really difficult to start... Especially after said NO to the exchange experience so many times before! However, on April 2011, I can say that I’ve just realised we have but a few months of this beautiful adventure.

The beginning was not easy, the faces, the words that couldn’t come out, the gestures which were not enough and in the end... Sofía, Marcos... What is Myrthe saying? Because communication was not possible, and it was overwhelming! I was afraid that she may not have a good time, and I was really worried about Myrthe suffering. I thank all the volunteers today, Sergio, Claudia, José Manuel and María Elena (my idol), who were right there in the right time and when I/we were in need of the right counselling. Thanks for the tips and recommendations! The rest of the experience was unique. The trips, the nights out, the disco, her siblings, the school, sports... JUST LIKE ANOTHER DAUGHTER. The same love, the same patience, the same company, the same joys and the same sorrows... JUST LIKE ANOTHER DAUGHTER.

Myrthe, Clara & Sofía

Marcos, Myrthe, Clara, Raúl & Sofía The dialogue, the tantrums, the mess, clothes everywhere, the cakes, the pies, the spices at the time of experimenting in the kitchen, all her friends... JUST LIKE ANOTHER DAUGHTER. We grew as a family, experimented new ideas and values, and we changed the way, sometimes deviated, we saw other countries just because we consider them different to ours, and learn that people are just the same.

Finally, to all those families who are still undecided, we say ‘go for it!’, the experience really pays of... If I feel that a child who comes to my house ends up being like MY OWN CHILD (I really do have to hold my tears) it is definitely worth it!

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National Assembly

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Of Volunteers from AFS Argentina & Uruguay Last April (28th & 29th ), all Chapter Presidents AFS has in Argentina and Uruguay, together with a special group of guest-volunteers, participated in the different workshops delivered by AFS trainers. The different training sessions were about competitiveness, host schools, resource development, technology, press contact, leadership, etc. On Saturday 30th, the XVIII° Annual Assembly took place. In it, all the Chapter presidents representing their volunteers back home had the chance to elect the new Board Members, who will represent them for the next 2 years. Among the special guests, we had the pleasure to have AFS International CEO, Tachi Cazal; Henrique Ramos, Member of the Board of Trustees; and several international guests from Brazil, Colombia, Japan, Check Republic and Switzerland. On Saturday night, all the guests celebrated the 56º Anniversary of AFS Argentina

in the city of Hurlingham, Buenos Aires Province. Page 4

On the Gala Night, Henrique Ramos from Brazil, representing the Board of Trustees, highlighted the work of the Argentinian and Uruguayan volunteers to put AFS Argentina and Uruguay in the AFS Network the it is. Later, AFS International CEO, Tachi Cazal, expressed how ‘gratifying it is to see how the




stronger and stronger every year’.

Later that night, AFS Argentina and Uruguay recognised the special labour of some Local Chapters during 2010, and awarded Reconquista Chapter with the ‘Best Participant Support’ Award; Santa Rosa Chapter received the award for ‘Best New Chapter’ as well as the one recognising its work for having the highest number in Sending; Sampacho Chapter was awarded the ‘Biggest Hosting’ recognition; and Córdoba Chapter, the biggest winner, receiving the ‘Best Local Chapter of 2010’. Luciano Sorani, volunteer from Río Gallegos Chapter, received the ‘Volunteer Experience’ award.

General Assembly The National Board was partially renewed once again (as it is every year) and the Board Members are organised in the following way:

Connecting lives, Sharing Cultures

Chair: Alberdi, Cecilia (Rosario) Secretary: Buyatti, José Manuel (Reconquista),* Treasurer: Marinovic, Patricia (Montevideo) Members: Aguilera, Juan (Mendoza), Aguirre, Gladys (Resistencia), Oporto, Eliseo Víctor (Santa Fe), Paez Padró, Hugo (Mendoza) Auditor: Garay, Oscar (Resistencia) * The Board Secretary was internally elected by the Board and chosen from the new Board Members voted by the Assembly made up of Chapter Presidents of Asociación Civil AFS Programas Interculturales (Legal name for AFS Argentina & Uruguay).

From left to right: Patricia Marinovich, Juan Aguilera, Cecilia Alberdi, José Manuel Buyatti, Gladys Aguirre and Eliseo Víctor Oporto Volunteers from Reconquista, Santa Fe, Resistencia and Montecarlo dinning at the 65° Anniversary of AFS Argentina

Volunteers from Reconquista receiving the “Best Participant Support’ Award, given by Board Member Juan Aguilera

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Connecting lives, Sharing Cultures

My Turkish Intercultural Experience

I’m Nerses Torossian, former AFS Student in Turkey 2009/10. It’s really difficult to summarise everything you feel and live in during a year, especially if the experience you had is so gratifying and full of emotions and feelings. The AFS experience is one experience you feel that way. When I left my country to go to Turkey on September 3rd 2009, I had no idea of what I was doing. On one side I felt that I was the bravest person , an entrepreneur, an adventurer, person who didn’t fear the unknown and who possessed great courage. On the other hand, I also felt I was the stupidest and naive human being on Earth. I asked myself many questions repeated times that day in Ezeiza International Airport: what am I doing here?, who took me here? Yet, there I was holding my tears in my eyes and with a big knot choking my throat, willing to start this new adventure all the same and with the face of my mum as an image impregnated in my mind.

I stopped in Madrid and then I headed to Turkey. As soon as I crossed the arrival doors in Istanbul, a short-sized person came out of nowhere from the crowd shouting my name. It was Sero, an AFS volunteers who took me to Ankara, the city where I lived my exchange experience. For the first time in my life, I had travelled alone and I had flown nearly 12.000 Km . I was far away from home, with someone strange and with whom I couldn’t speak because I had no knowledge of a word of either Turkish or English. Gestures were really useful in that precise moment! When we got to Ankara, I was introduced to my family and went home to start my ‘new life’. I remember a particular anecdote when I started unpacking and I showed my new family a package of Yerba Mate I had taken with me. I tried to explain them what that was and how excited I was because I had it there. They didn’t looked interested at all. However, when I learned how to speak the language, they told me that their first impression was that my package contained some kind of drug. I can’t even imagine what else they must have thought I was at that time! My life in the 2 families I had in Turkey was immensely gratifying. I had a nice relationship with both of them and I felt really valued and loved by them, as well as part of the family. They were kind to me and I suffered a lot when I had to leave them. Sometimes I cry when I think of them, when I hear their voices on the phone, or even when I read about their lives in the mails they send me.

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By Nerses Torossian

Connecting lives, Sharing Cultures

Going on an exchange experience is one of the best things that have happened to me. All the things you live when you are abroad stay deep inside you and for ever. Today I'm here, remembering my experience and thanking it for letting me live all I lived then.

The hospitality, the spicy food, the traditional tea after every meal, Sundays in the country house where I would dad in the garden son that on spring time it would be full of flowers. The matches between Galatasaray and Fenerbahçe (like Boca-River but in Turkey). The spicy kokoreç made of goat vowels, the abundant breakfast and the annoying habit of trying to stuff food inside you even after you are completely full. The chocolates and pistachios, the dry fruits. Taking the train to school, waiting for the bus to come back home. The TV series I used to watch every night with my older brother, Okan. His anger when I didn’t go with him to a wedding party as I had promised to do, just because I had a little party with the other exchange students. The window I used to sit at to look at the sky and to think about my homeland, Argentina, and all the people in it. The window was a common witness of those moments of solitude, weakness and homesickness. The bar where we used to go with my friends to have some beers and to smoke narguile. The happiness of feeling part of a family I had just met, all of them who made me feel complete, satisfied and in plenitude. These are some of the experiences and sensations I constantly have

There are times when I even think Turkish. Re-adapting was particularly difficult at first, because of the huge cultural and ideological differences that both countries have.

in my head every night when I go to sleep.

Putting that aside, Turkey offers an amazing and matchless experience which, given the chance, I would undoubtedly repeat.

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Nerses Torossian

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General Knowledge Test Sending 2012/13

On Saturday 21st of May AFS Reconquista Local Chapter took the General Knowledge Test, the first step in the preparation process for those teenagers (15-17 years old) from our communities who are interested in going on an intercultural exchange experience in another country. The exam is compulsory but not qualifying and its purpose

is to determine the level of general knowledge the candidate has so as to help him study those things he does not know about. The final

goal is to prepare candidates who are trained and informed about the cultural context they may have to live in, in order to make the experience easier for all the AFS Participants. Candidates taking the exam.

The preparation process goes on until February 2012 for some, and until August 2012 for the other participants (depending on the cycle and destiny chosen). Meanwhile, AFS Reconquista will be preparing and training them. Sessions will include topics such as the culture concept, cultural differences, intercultural education and no formal education. Also, about values, traditions, conflict resolution methods, etc.

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AFS Reconquista wants to thank Dante Alighieri Reconquista Committee to let us use their premises to take the exam last Saturday.

Homemade Empanadas & New AFS T-shirts To celebrate the May Revolution Holiday exchange students and volunteers from AFS Reconquista made and cooked meat and cheeseham empanadas. AFS planned this activity with the intention of teaching the students how to cook a typical Argentinian meal so that they can show it when they return to they native countries. Our Argentinian AFS candidates were also present so they can take the recipe later when they travel to their host countries, and teach them to their host families. Laughter and good spirit were present all the time because everybody felt they were among friends. Taking advantage of the meeting, AFS volunteers gave the new AFS T-shirts away to all the guests. 1



Team Spirit: Photo 1: Myrthe (The Netherlands) and Mook (Thailand) preparing the dough. Photo 2: Ida (Norway) rolling and stretching dough. Photo 3: Lisa (Italy) filling and adding the repulgue to the classical Argentinian empanadas.

Connecting lives, Sharing Cultures

María Elena, María Laura, Lisa, Eveliina, Myrthe, Alfur, Franco, Ida, Mook, José Manuel, Ronja and Claudia

Exchange students, candidates and volunteers wearing the new T-shirt of AFS Reconquista.

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The AFS mate in Selcuk and Kappadokya (Turkey) Nerses Torossian,

who comes from the city of Malabrigo (Santa Fe), took the AFS mate to the Anatolian Plateau. He had his intercultural exchange experience in Turkey from August 2009 until July 2010. He had the chance to know some interesting places together with his AFS friends. During one of his trips, he visited the Kappadokya region (photograph from the front page). This Turkish area was the shelter of the first Christians refuges who built entire cities carving the rocks. They also built the first churches in it, always hiding from the religious persecutions their suffered back then. He also visited the city of Selcuk, where it is said is the last earthly and mortal home of the Virgin Mary. In this picture, we can see the house which belonged to Mary according to the Catholic Church. It is also said that she lived there with Saint John the Baptist up to the time when she ascended to Heaven. Nerses, having mates in the house of Virgin Mary in Selcuk

AFS Reconquista Contacts José Manuel Buyatti  1544-4471 María Elena Landi  421350 Claudia Lanteri  424507 Sergio Sanchez  1545-7527 E-mail: AFS RL RECONQUISTA

Connecting lives, Sharing Cultures

Digital News of AFS Reconquista Local Chapter