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Day 17

Yesterday we had a little outing to the city with the kids of Food for Thought, the kids from the Saturday art and games program, a few women from the mothers’ group, a couple of parents, and a handful of staff members. We all jumped onto a couple of public buses and headed to the big smoke! We find that the trips to and from our outings are usually the most fun, so over an hour each way didn’t bother the kids at all! 

It had been a long time since we had been on an excursion. The kids were excited enough just for the fact that we were all travelling somewhere together. Our destination was the biggest cultural centre in Latin America. The Kirchner Cultural Centre used to be the city’s central post office. During the school holidays, the centre puts on a variety of activities.

It consists of 9 floors. The main concert hall named "The Blue Whale” seats 2000 people, and is a 3 storey auditorium and opera house floating in the former package-sorting area. It actually looks like a huge whale floating in the middle of the building. It also has five smaller auditoriums for theatre and concerts, 18 halls for performances, 40 rooms for exhibitions, 16 rehearsal rooms, and two rooftop terraces. Just entering the building was cool enough for the children. 

There were all sorts of interactive activities; art, music, games, cinema, a fragrance and sound exhibition, and a huge book festival. The kids enjoyed the activities but I think the spectacle of it all was what made it for them. The moving around in the big city with friends, open spaces, the eating of a packed lunch together in a huge corridor, the waiting on the bus platform for half an hour in the rain, and even cramming into peak hour buses like sardines, made the trip fun and interesting. 

Even though the kids visited the largest cultural centre in the whole of Latin America, they were more excited about the escalators, the stairs, the open spaces, the different levels, and the viewing positions from where you can see all the 9 levels of the building. Overall a great day out had by all. 

Sadly, the day had to end. What also had to end was the year that our two German volunteers, Annika and Noah, spent with us. After the outing, we arrived back to the venue and said our goodbyes to these amazing individuals. The year has gone quickly and we witnessed a great transformation. In the beginning, they spoke no Spanish, were shy, had little initiative, and had trouble connecting with the kids, but all of that completely changed. They put their heads down and learnt the language, took on important roles within the project, made connections with the kids, planned and executed activities, and became irreplaceable members of the team. That is not mentioning the profound impact that they had on the core team and obviously, the kids.   

I like the kids getting to know young people from a different part of the planet. At the moment they don’t have much of a chance to get to Europe, so Europe comes to them in the shape of keen and kind young humans. It shows the kids a snippet of another culture, another language, and another way of looking at the world. I believe that it gives the kids the option to open up to different people from different walks of life. It also demonstrates that there is a whole big world out there outside of Monte Chingolo. The idea isn’t to get the kids to leave the community but to give them a glimpse of the possible opportunities that the world has to offer. 

So, we said goodbye to Annika and Noah with a song that we had written. We shared a few stories, exchanged a few gifts, shed a few tears, and sent another set of beautiful humans on their way. Thanks Annika and Noah for dedicating a year of your lives to the kids of this small community. Food for Thought is better off for having shared a wonderful 12 months with you both. Good luck with the next stage of your lives and thanks for being great students of the little teachers of Monte Chingolo.