Vamos a Argentina

HIKING TO THE TOP The Hockaday students on the Spring Break Trip hiked up to the top of the Calafate glaciers in Argentina. Photo provided by Elizabeth Smith
The scorching heat and rainforests of Iguazú, the glaciers of Calafate and the dulce de leche crepes of Buenos Aires welcomed the Hockadaises—sophomores Maddie, Caroline and Ashley and freshmen Anna and Suzanne—to Argentina.
Such opportunities to travel abroad are available to all Upper School school girls each year, but this trip was one of the first spring trips in several years. “For the whole [Hockaday] travel program, the purpose is to give students at Hockaday global perspectives, get them out of the U.S., to experience a different culture and language,” Hockaday Travel Program Director Elizabeth Smith said.
Travelling on a Hockaday-sponsored South American cultural immersion trip, the students aimed to experience the Hispanic lifestyle while contributing their services to a local orphanage.
Chaperoned by Laura Day and Lower School Spanish Teacher Marcela Gerber, the five girls achieved just that.
“I wanted to go to Argentina because I am from there. I wanted to share my culture and my land with the students,” Gerber said. “My favorite moment was sharing the differences and the similarities of the culture with the girls.”
In addition to a day of service in the local orphanage, they shopped along the streets of Buenos Aires, rode horses at the Estancia Ranch by invitation of the parents of Hockadaisy Mia Savoldelli and learned how to cook genuine Argentinian food such as empanadas and dulce de leche crepes.
The group also ventured on a hike over the glaciers in the city of Calafate.
Director of Community Service Laura Day said that walking on the glaciers at Calafate, which is located within close proximity to the South Pole, marked her favorite excursion of the trip.
“It was literally the coolest thing I’ve ever done in my life,” she said.
Even more memorable, to Anna, was the boat ride under the Iguazú Falls that exposed the students to the Argentinian terrain.
“[It] was really awesome because it was the widest waterfall in the whole entire world,” Anna said.
But the entire trip did not simply consist of a succession of exotic adventures. Each year, the travel programs for Hockaday are subject to change, but “every trip as a community service aspect,” Smith said.
Anna said that the girls “learned about the poor parts of [Buenos Aires] and the rich parts,” and, in order to gain exposure to the former, they volunteered at a local orphanage sponsored by an Argentinian college teacher.
The girls helped organize and label books and clothing in the orphanage library. And they entertained the children living there and brought them deserts and Coke. Sophomore Maddie also brought the orphans bottlecap necklaces, a product of her business, m3 Girl Designs.
Day pointed out the meaningful juxtaposition of the day at the orphanage with the rest of the activities on trip.
“We did so many wonderful things that cost a good amount of money, and we were in really nice hotels, so it was really neat to go one day and be in a low-income area with kids who didn’t have much.”
Even in the orphanage, the girls could perceive the cultural differences between Argentina and the United States. “It isn’t an orphanage like we think of it because you can’t just adopt children,” Anna said.
Not only did the community service opportunity provide an eye opening experience for the girls, but so did the rest of the trip, which helped form a new image of Argentina for the girls.
“The girls really embraced learning about the culture,” said Gerber. “And I think the girls were shocked to see that Argentina was a melting pot of European countries.”
Even the Argentinian customs reminded girls just how distinct cultures can be.
“They are all really friendly. It is the whole two kisses on the cheek thing,” Anna said. “[Argentina] was like this whole world under Texas, and I always thought Texas was the South.”