Tuesday, May 1st, 2012...10:37 pm
Que pasa American friends?! Our first full day in Argentina was quite a long one, but we enjoyed it nonetheless. We woke up bright and early for breakfast to fuel up for the long work day ahead of us. We then made our way over to the local JCC, but here it is called the SUIM (pronounced “swim”). It stands for Sociedad Unión Israelita Marplatense.
When we arrived, the building seemed run-down. Many rooms were dusty and cluttered, desperate for a new paint job. We got right to work, splitting up into teams to fix up a gym, a classroom and the front of the building. We broke our backs cleaning, and then applied fresh paint, giving the building new life.
Multiple coffee and meal breaks were supplied by the generous and outgoing chef Susy. She doesn’t speak much English, but we love her anyway. After a long day of arduous work, we came back to the hotel for quick showers and siestas. We then regrouped in the hotel for a group discussion. The discussion was very deep, and we covered topics such as community, peoplehood, and our personal experiences with Judaism. Many opinions were expressed and we established a “safe zone”, where all were free to speak their minds without fear of judgement. This has brought us much closer as a group, and we are looking forward to future discussions.
After the discussion, we returned to SUIM for dinner with local Argentinian youths. They were very outgoing and excited to practice their English. There might have been a language barrier, but we still managed to learn a lot from them and become fast friends. They quickly expressed their gratitude for our service work, saying that they had never thought the gym could be as clean as it was, as it had not been painted in at least 15 years.
We also played basketball with them, and Andrea Cohen won the first game of knockout! It was very thrilling, and it is an experience she will never forget. Now we are very exhausted and ready for bed, excited for another day of work at SUIM that is certain to make a positive impact on the lives of our new friends!!