Students Experience Argentine Culture – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

Students Experience Argentine Culture

Fourteen HWS students are spending the fall semester in Mendoza, Argentina, a provincial capital of approximately one million people in a program led by Associate Professor of Religious Studies Richard Salter ’86, P’15.

Students study Spanish language and Argentine history and culture through Centro de Español como Lengua Extranjera (CELE) and take two of three courses:  “Nationalism,” “Religion and Nature” and “Theories of Psychopathology.” CELE is located within the Universidad Nacional de Cuyo, Mendoza’s largest regional university.

“As part of the Nationalism class we have been able visit the monument to General San Martín, the eternal flame of the Unknown Soldier and the memorial to the National Flag of the Andes, used by General San Martín when he crossed Chile to defeat the Spaniards,” explains Salter. “Nationalism” and “Religion and Nature” are very well integrated with the programming, he says.

Through “Religion and Nature” the group has completed excursions to Aconcagua Mountain, the highest the highest in North or South America;  the natural reserve park Divisadero Largo, where two plates of the earth’s crust collide; and on desert walks. 

Other excursions have included a trip to see the see penguins, whales and seals of Puerto Madryn; to Santiago, Chile, to compare ideas of Nationalism there to those that exist in Argentina; and to the Andean Patagonia to see the lake district of Argentina. 

While the group is experiencing Argentine culture in interesting ways, with visits to olive oil farms, wineries and international rugby matches, the centerpiece of the program has been the students’ homestay. Students live with one family the whole time they are in Argentina, which gives them the best chance of getting truly immersed in Argentine culture.

“My host mom is teaching me how to knit a poncho!” says Michelle Preston ’14.

Preston , Elena Scrivani  and Elizabeth Boghosian ’14 have student teaching placements at Las Candelas, a private, bi-lingual school in Chacras de Coria, a suburb about 45 minutes outside of Mendoza.

Boghosian is a teaching assistant in two English language classes and a drama class, while Preston teaches English to 11 fourth grade students at the school.  “I think that the students really like having me in their class and they love hearing about the differences of the U.S. and Argentina,” Boghosian says.

“My coordinating professor wants me to work on storytelling and comprehension, which is great for me because I took the storytelling course here with Professor of Education Charlie Temple and have taken other courses about teaching literacy,” explains Preston. “Every day, I am using my Spanish and feel encouraged to keep learning from the students in Las Candelas.”

Tess O’Leary ’14 and Meghan Van Dorp ’13 are playing volleyball with the intramural team at the Universidad Nacional de Cuyo, while MacKenzie Davison ’14 is involved with the rugby team.

Sara McKinney ’14 received a Student International Initiatives Fund grant through the Center for Global Education to study tango while in Argentina. The grant allows students to apply for funds to undertake projects that enrich their studies and deepen their connection to the local community abroad.

“I chose to study tango because I am a dance major, so this art form is already very interesting and appealing to me as a dancer,” says McKinney. “It is a native dance to Argentina, so it serves as a looking glass into Argentine culture.”

Other students in Mendoza this semester are Ariel Schonfeld ’14, Esperanza Rivadeneira ’15, Katina Tibbetts ’14, Jocelyn Canty ’14, Jose Alvarez ’13, Maya Maor ’14 and Marjorie Mitchell ’14.


In the photo above, students, led by Associate Professor of Religious Studies Richard Salter ’86, P’15, stop for a photo while hiking to Refugio Lopez in Bariloche, Argentina.