That was the question many faculty members were asking us as we frantically worked to finish up comments, grades, faculty contracts, magazines, and mailings before Rodrigo Villaamil, Sarah Doenmez, Anne Mackey, and I boarded a plane to Argentina. We were going to Bariloche Argentina as part of the EE Ford Spanish program to continue building our partnership between Dublin School and three private schools there - Instituto Primo Capraro, Colegio San Patricio, and Woodville in Bono Vince. Twenty-four hours after leaving campus, we found ourselves in morning rush hour traffic in Buenos Aires and two hours after that we were sitting at Cafe Clara in Palermo Soho, Buenos Aires. Sleepy but excited, our ideas and questions surrounding Dublin’s Spanish program flowed freely, and the possibilities these partnerships might offer became more obvious. We knew why we were there.
Buenos Aires is a vibrant city, with a diverse mix of nationalities, old buildings that resemble a weathered sailor’s face and a buzz of youthful energy. We found colorful street art decorating every other concrete/brick building and outdoor eateries lining the streets waiting for nighttime crowds. We took the subway to the Plaza de Mayo the oldest public square in Buenos Aires. This was the site for many of the most important events in the city's history, from the second founding of the city in 1580, through the revolution of independence, to more the more recent political demonstrations. We also toured the Catedral Metropolitana where Pope Francis led mass as Archbishop of Buenos Aires. Walking through the cathedral, picturing Pope Francis at the pulpit in front of us, somehow made Pope Francis a real person. If we had seen nothing else on the trip, that one experience would remind us of the power of international travel and how important it if for our students to connect what they learn to what they know and feel from experience.
Making our way from here to there around the city, we were impressed and touched that every time we started to look lost, someone would come up to us to ask if we needed help. The friendliness and warmth of the city was refreshing. Luckily Rodrigo was able to communicate for us and what started as a simple one-word answer - go left, then right - would end up being a 5-10 minute conversation between the two of them figuring out where each was from - Argentina, Uruguay, Venezuela, Colombia. Spanish was the connection that opened the door to each other’s worlds. Those of us who could not speak Spanish were very jealous but further convinced that Dublin’s commitment to teaching one-language really well, would give Dublin students the “key” that we were lacking. We concluded our day with a late night, steak dinner in our hotel town of Palermo Soho with Rodrigo’s aunt and uncle. Almost 40 hours after leaving Dublin we went to sleep.
The next morning we flew into San Carlos de Bariloche - our new home for the week. It is not an exaggeration to say we fell in love with Bariloche at first sight. An eclectic mix of European culture, breathtaking mountain vistas, Bavarian architecture, and a Utah/Colorado vibe only begins to describe Bariloche. A community that clearly caters to outdoor enthusiast tourists, it also has an interesting full-time population as well. It quickly became clear that Bariloche was going to prove to be more than the sum of its parts. Tomorrow we would find out how.