CIEE Celebrates 20 Years of International Education in Buenos Aires

Authored by:
Sarah B.

CIEE celebrated 20 years of international education and exchange in Buenos Aires, Argentina, earlier this month, teaming up with longtime institutional partner the Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences (FLACSO) Argentina to host three days of special events with community stakeholders, alumni, staff members, and special guests.

Partners in International Education

Events began July 16 when more than 200 academics, politicians, and members of the public gathered to discuss progress in Latin American over the past two decades during a seminar titled, "Latin American Integration: Results and Challenges." The five-hour session – organized by CIEE, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and FLACSO – took place at the Palacio San Martin, ceremonial seat of the Foreign Ministry of Argentina and a national landmark.

Daniel Filmus, founding resident director of the CIEE Study Center in Buenos Aires, secretary of Malvinas Islands and South Atlantic Maritime Affairs, and former minister of Education, Science, and Technology, and Argentine senator, gave opening remarks at the start of the five-hour seminar.

Two panels of diplomats and academic experts presented their views and debated the future of Argentina’s integration within Latin America. Panelists from all over South America discussed issues of economic integration, trade, and regional cooperation throughout Latin America from both an academic and diplomatic perspective.

“This gathering of experts and dignitaries reflects the value that Argentina places on international education and the mutually beneficial relationship CIEE and Argentina have shared since the CIEE Study Center in Buenos Aires opened in the fall of 1993,” said Dan Olds, director of alumni relations at CIEE.

CIEE and the Local Community

To celebrate the importance of becoming part of the fabric of local communities wherever we are, CIEE students and staff members joined community volunteers and their children July 17 at the Barrio Mitre Community Center. A significant part of the CIEE Study Abroad program in Buenos Aires involves service work at the center, which provides enrichment activities for children and education and counseling for mothers.

The day began with a food-safety workshop for CIEE Community Public Health summer program students and local mothers. At the same time, a small group of CIEE Liberal Arts program students and neighborhood youth also worked together to help rebuild 10 computers donated by the CIEE Buenos Aires Study Center. After a break for lunch, students from CIEE’s Summer Spanish Language program led games with children and their mothers. Meanwhile, a neighborhood volunteer taught silk screening and helped everyone at the center create a T-shirt to commemorate its 20-year relationship with CIEE. Other CIEE students and local women baked cookies together for the celebration in the community kitchen.

Finally, center staff members, patrons, and CIEE staff members gathered in front of a new entryway and access ramp, newly constructed to improve access for disabled and elderly patrons, and recognized CIEE’s commitment to the community. After dedication speeches and ceremonial ribbon cutting by Catharine Scruggs, executive director of program management for CIEE Study Abroad, and Resident Director Andrea Rizzotti, the group enjoyed a guitar performance by neighborhood girls. (CIEE had donated the guitars to the center after flooding destroyed instruments.)

“It was incredibly meaningful to witness all the positive effects CIEE’s relationship with the Barrio Mitre Community Center has had on the community,” noted Scruggs. “It was equally powerful to see the deep impression that volunteering at the center makes on our students.” 

A Night 20 Years in the Making

Anniversary celebration events culminated July 18 with a full evening at the Palacio San Martin. CIEE staff members recognized the many students, partners, host families, and others who have enriched our programs in Argentina over 20 years. Attendees included eight CIEE Study Abroad alumni who live nearby and four Argentine alumni from CIEE Internship USA and Work and Travel USA programs, reflecting our commitment to helping J-1 participants continue their international exchange experience long after they return home.

At the start of the evening, guests enjoyed cocktails as they explored two installations. “Images of 20 Years” included video clips of historic and recent activities in the program with an interactive wall that allowed guests to see and hear from staff and faculty members involved in our Buenos Aires programs. 

The prestigious exhibition “30 years of Democracy” donated by FLACSO Argentina for the event, included paintings, sculpture, photography, and crafts by Argentine and Latin American artists. 

After this reception, guests were treated to a beautiful tango performance by well-known dance professors Mercedes Mouriño and Gerardo “Lalo” Bengochea, who teach at the CIEE Buenos Aires Study Center. Then a series of speakers took the stage to share the history of CIEE’s program and recognize our community partners and dedicated host families. The celebration continued with cake and dancing late into the night.

“From partners to government officials to children of our host families to a 90-year-old representative of the social activist group Madres de Plaza de Mayo, we’re thrilled to have such depth and diversity of support in Argentina,” noted Olds. “It was truly a wonderful series of events to recognize an important milestone and pay tribute to the committed community partners, faculty, and staff members that have helped CIEE students in Buenos Aires become global citizens since 1994.”

Click here for more photos of the event.  

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