Matthew Black - General Journalism Projects in Argentina
‘Hola hola, muy buenas tardes, estás en Las Rosas radio 107.3 FM! Arrancamos esta tarde con toda la música que quieres escuchar’ is probably the most memorable sentence I’ll think of when thinking back on my wonderful experience. Working as a volunteer for a radio station is completely different to any of the other volunteering options in Córdoba.
My Radio Journalism Project in Argentina
This was fashion! Las Rosas has nothing to do with poverty, orphans or social care. I was plunged into Córdoba’s cultural, social and musical scenes. Las Rosas is not only one of Córdoba’s biggest radio stations, but it also runs a magazine, website, modelling agency, its own bar and also organises huge events at ‘Chateau’ – guaranteed best night out in Cordoba.
On my first day at work, Vanessa and Agustin accompanied me to meet and greet the other members of the Las Rosas team. Jaime, my boss, was so welcoming. We spoke about what I would be interested in doing at Las Rosas, rather than what work they would assign me to do. This philosophy of letting the volunteer explore what he or she wants to explore was consistent throughout my six weeks in Córdoba. Jaime never forced me to write or record articles that I wasn’t interested in and he would always give me the go ahead for any topics that I wished to report on.
I chose to join my Belgian colleague Steph, writing articles for the website and magazine, and even speaking a few times on the radio. I worked closely with Steph and also with Lula, from Buenos Aires, who was doing a year internship at Las Rosas. Jaime would always supervise the work that we were doing and once we had produced a final piece he would proof read it and more often that not pass it on to editing to be put on the website or even in the magazine, depending on the length of the article.
I focused my work on music. My first project was collecting lists of contemporary music from Europe that could be added to the radio’s database and later streamed live. I also wrote about up and coming artists and musicians that were making headlines worldwide. Jaime then gave me the opportunity to speak on the radio about one of these artists and play one of his songs. This was one of my best moments at Las Rosas – and even my host mother had been listening in at home, just down the road.
The magical ingredient for having a good experience here at Las Rosas was being pro-active. Despite not having any previous experience in journalism myself, Jaime had given both Steph and I the freedom to write about what we wanted and to speak on the radio about what we wanted. He had even offered for us to go and join the magazine editing crew or the event management team. At the same time, we also had the opportunity not to apply ourselves – but that would have been a waste of everybody’s time. Being pro-active on this journalism project not only brought you respect from colleagues, but also brought you pride. I still sometimes still look on the Las Rosas website and at my articles online – I am proud that I got them published!
My daily schedule was very flexible. Work was from 3pm until 7pm and this gave myself and Steph the opportunity to visit the ancient city centre of Córdoba. We profited from long weekends by enjoying carnival in Gualeguaychu, wine tasting in Mendoza, tango in Buenos Aires, and the breath taking Iguazu falls. Keep in mind that Argentina is a huge country. We had to take overnight buses to reach some of South America’s most beautiful destinations.
Living with a host family in Argentina
But to me, it wasn’t all about the getting away and visiting other places. I had already been travelling through Peru, Bolivia and Argentina for two months before I started my placement with Projects Abroad and so I loved simply spending time at home with my host mother Ceci in Córdoba. Also at home was my new sister – another volunteer from Belgium, called Lies. There was never a dull moment at home. We would even all go out dancing at ‘Chateau’ together. Ceci’s sister and friends would join us and we would have asados out in the garden. Living with a local person and integrating into their society was so much fun for me.
I had grown bored of speaking English with other Europeans in hostels throughout my travels and it was a breath of fresh air to have Spanish as the only language in the house and finally have a base to call home for my last six weeks in South America. But once again, the key to having a good time with your host family was being pro-active. Argentineans are very welcoming people and they will always try and make you feel at home, but if you don’t socialise and show how at home you feel, not only will you not benefit from the opportunity, but it also won’t be a fun experience for your host family.
Speaking Spanish in Argentina
I had come to Córdoba with my Spanish language in mind. I am going to study French and Spanish next year at university and I really wanted to combine my travels with some constructive work on my Spanish. I think Projects Abroad and my journalism internship at Las Rosas was perfect for this. I had done language courses in schools in Madrid and other parts of Spain before, but this time I wanted to do something different. Las Rosas tested my Spanish very much so and it also gave me some valuable journalism experience in a very well known corporation in Argentina’s second largest city.
At home with Ceci I was also able to practise my Spanish. It was perfect. At the same time the Projects Abroad community gave me the opportunity to meet and spend time with English speaking volunteers doing other projects in Córdoba. There were socials organised every weekend, doing all sorts of things from drinks at a Dada mini-bar, to adobe construction in a poorer outskirt of the city. It was important for me, however, not to stick to the same group of friends during my time there. Indeed I met some incredible friends from Belgium, Sweden, America and England, but I also got to know some locals. From Ceci’s friends who came for asados, to Nacho who worked at the kiosk across the street from where I lived!
I owe a lot to my time with Projects Abroad in Argentina and my experiences in South America as a whole. I will be back – as soon as I earn a little more money back here at home! Ciao Ciao!