When students choose to do coursework away from home, in a distant and different socio-cultural context, their engagement with the local community is both about learning and about giving valuable service. NYU Buenos Aires has traditionally offered both credit-bearing internships and volunteer service projects that put students in touch with the local community in rewarding ways for both sides of the relationship.
Spring 2015 has marked a historical high point of this kind of endeavor: 60% of NYUBA students are making a weekly contribution to multiple community service projects endorsed by NYU’s global program in Argentina.
Volunteering in Buenos Aires allows students to work in and for communities in need, meet local peers and professionals, practice Spanish and acquire global skills by adapting to the porteño working environment – all while supporting important causes like schools in poor neighborhoods, public policy on human & civil rights, and international cooperation for local NGOs.
Credit-bearing internship and fieldwork projects are available through courses sponsored by CAS and LS at the undergraduate level. Placement options range in topic from Human Rights, Public Health, and Education or the Environment to the realm of Arts or Sports.
Whether working for credit or as volunteers, students usually go into the field twice or three times a week through the whole semester. So, NYUBA students’ hands-on commitment makes a significant, tangible difference to these community projects. This map shows how many communities are touched by NYUBA students’ contribution of time and effort:
Most credit-bearing internships are for undergraduates, but everyone – grad and undergrad – is encouraged to participate. For example, this semester, NYUBA Law Program student, Tatyana Leykekham, chose to work at a non-profit foundation where she tutored children in situations of social vulnerability. She summed it up this way: “During my Spring semester in Buenos Aires I volunteered at Fundacion Juanito–an organization that looks after marginalized children. My experience there has been nothing but positive. Even though my Spanish is very basic I was met with respect and patience. Immediately, I felt like I was part of a large family. I spent my days teaching English and helping out in the kitchen, both very rewarding tasks. I particularly enjoyed meeting all the children who live in the foundation and trying to get to know them. In general, I think that volunteering here is a wonderful and unique way to become immersed in the life of Buenos Aires.”
NYUBA undergrad Nicolás Cantor volunteered at Boca Social, the community service arm of the world-class pro soccer team known as “Club Atletico Boca Juniors,” and he had this to say: “My experience at Boca Social has been unforgettable. As an Argentine-American, my father has been able to pass on his passion for Boca Juniors to me. But opposed to him, I never truly got that first hand experience with the club that a Buenos Aires born person has had. With my volunteering experience at Boca Social, my dream of being at the essence of the club is the most beautiful thing. I lived a remarkable first hand experience with Boca Social that is going to stick with me for the rest of my life.”
Another NYUBA undergrad, Lisa Azcona, also took part in the program volunteering at a local news venue: “Working with The Argentina Independent was such a rewarding experience. It definitely fulfilled my expectations. It was extremely hands-on and you really feel like you are part of the team. I particularly enjoyed working on the ‘Street Style series.’ Biweekly, I interviewed locals (in Spanish) in different neighborhoods around the city about what they were wearing and their opinion on fashion in Buenos Aires. The Argentina Independent actually re-launched this series (they had it previously) because they saw that I had an interest in fashion. As an aspiring entertainment reporter, I found this area to be very beneficial, worthwhile and fun! It allowed me to really be in close contact with locals while improving my Spanish skills. I also worked on current event pieces during our weekly meetings and reviewed an organization/an event. I’ll be leaving The Argentina Independent with a nice amount of clips, which will become useful when applying to other internships in NYC. I think this internship/volunteer experience is an awesome way to showcase your ability to do journalism abroad.”
Finally, with a focus on environmental issues, Jean-Luc Marsh is an undergraduate who committed his volunteer time to Asociación Amigos de la Patagonia. Jean-Luc counts this among “the highlights of my experience while studying abroad in Buenos Aires. The work is rewarding because the impact is measurable; I get to see first hand that the documents I translate, the activity kits I help construct, the newsletters I draft, and the odd errands I run, all go to the stated goal of improving environmental education in Argentina in order to protect the environment both now and in future generations. … As cliché as it may sound, my introduction to NGO work in Argentina has been instrumental in helping me to get my bearings while down here, and also provided me with a network of professional connections and friends in South America and beyond.”
Who Makes This Possible at NYU Buenos Aires:
NYUBA’s internships and volunteer programs draw on a network of 45+ local organizations that year after year receive student placements for productive engagement in local projects.
Diego Cordoba is part of NYUBA’s Student Life team, and he is specifically in charge of the Volunteer & Community Service Program, reaching out to students when they arrive and connecting their interests and vocations to organizations locally that need help.
On the academic side, NYUBA’s Internship Coordinator, Justina Lopez, works closely with Diego to place students in organizations that can place them for more hours per week, as appropriate to course-related goals. In addition to working with semester students, Justina is a key intermediary between local organizations and community groups of interest to NYU’s numerous specialized Visiting Programs that bring scholars and advanced students to Argentina between the regular semesters.