Works and Days

Tags


"spanish"


Cuba Today: Sydney Scarlata, Winter Fellowship for International Travel


Sydney Scarlata, senior political science major and recipient of the Winter Fellowship for International Travel, reflects on her time in Cuba, using photography and mini-interviews to  capture a moment of life in Cuba at a crucial transition point at the end of decades of animosity but before the floodgates of U.S. capitalism fully open.

Author’s note: I’ve never been very articulate so this may be the hardest part of my project.

On January 1st I left snowy Chicago for a country whose language I could not speak and whose relationship with my country was unsettled, at best. This project started as an attempt to capture the wide-ranging impact that the Cuban revolution has had on the country and its citizens 55 years after the fact. And yes, I have several photographs of the many monuments, street art, and the propaganda posters (because advertisements don’t exist in Cuba). However, my project quickly morphed into something much great and infinitely more complicated. I found myself exploring the depths of what, and more importantly who, is Cuba. What I found (besides delicious food and cloudless skies) was a community of people who were so excited to share a piece of their everyday lives with me. Obviously there were some exceptions (I know I would be more than a little skeptical if a U.S. tourist asked me if they could take my photo). Cuban students, for example, always refused a photo op. Generally, however, I found that my camera was a conversation starter.

Argentinian Spanish in Buenos Aires: Winter Fellowship for International Travel, Cristobal Mancillas

 

Cristobal Mancillas, junior political science major and recipient of the Winter Fellowship for International Travel, reflects on his time in Buenos Aires, Argentina, studying Argentinian Spanish

I spent my winter travel fellowship in the beautiful city of Buenos Aires, Argentina. I received private Spanish instructions from professor Susana. The focus was on building conversational fluidity and learning an Argentinian dialect of Spanish. Professor Susana was a compassionate and caring individual who helped me adjust to a new place, a new language, and a new way of life. We spent time discussing art in the park of memory, dedicated to the memory of those who lost their lives in the Argentinian Dirty War, receiving an unofficial and spontaneous private tour of the Argentinian national bank, and relaxing while eating choripan at a nature reserve in Puerto Madero. While I could endlessly recount the amazing experiences I had in Buenos Aires, I feel that it was also the not so rosy experiences that allowed me the tremendous opportunity to grow.