“I can’t believe how quickly this semester, and more specifically how quickly this last month has just flown by,” says Hannah Stoll ’11. “It still feels like I only just arrived here in South America.”
Althought her time abroad in Chile and Argentina draws to a close, Stoll is still hard at work.
“For many years now Buenos Aires has had a huge problem with garbage,” says Stoll. “It’s everywhere. It’s a beautiful city but there is a lot of garbage and not a lot of options for dealing with it. Since the economic, social and political devastation of 2001 the city has seen an enormous increase in both informal recyclable collectors and students dropping out of school for various reasons.”
Over the past month in Buenos Aires, Stoll, a sociology major and education minor, has been studying and observing a group of estudiantes cartoneros — students who have left school or rarely attend so that they can collect recyclables in the streets to make a living. Stoll has also spent several afternoons in various plazas surveying the general public, asking their thoughts about the work the cartoneros do.
“I’ve been doing interviews with the directors of recycling cooperatives, NGO’s working to reintegrate these students back into the education system and, hopefully this week, actual students,” Stoll says. “This project has thrown many obstacles my way; it’s always tough studying a demographic that doesn’t want to be studied.”
However, Stoll has been traveling and learning not only in Argentina but all over the continent. While abroad, she has lived and studied in Santiago and Buenos Aires, in Temuco and Chapod, a small town in Southern Chile, hosted by an indigenous Mapuche family, with whom she had lots in common.
When Stoll found out that her host brother was studying architecture, she was thrilled.
“We went on for hours about architecture after I told him that both of my parents were architects and that when I’d started college I had been almost sure I wanted to be an architect — until I took Intro to Sociology that is. The community was just so incredibly welcoming and kind it was hard not to create a strong connection with them,” Stoll says.
During her first week in Buenos Aires, Stoll took seminars, observed local schools, and had most of the afternoons off to explore the city.
Stoll says, “The big question on everyone’s mind during that first week in Buenos Aires was, Where are you going to do your independent study project? Our proposals were due the 24th and everyone was itching to know where everyone would be.”
Though Stoll initially thought she would return to Chapod for her project, after a conversation with her host mother one of her first nights in Buenos Aires, she started developing her topic, asking her director for possible contacts and guidance, as her topic wasn’t touched upon in her seminar curriculum.
“After a lot of research I sent in my proposal to my directors, and they loved it,” Stoll says.
Stoll is currently analyzing her results and writing up her report for a June presentation that she will deliver in Santiago.