Patagonia – the name alone evokes a sentiment of mystique, of something exotic and totally other. When I heard that Dickinson was planning to send a group of students to study there, I was immediately intrigued. Little did I know at that point, almost a year before the actual Mosaic, that I was going to be able to take part in this unique experience. As a Spanish major whose previous experience had been mainly focused on the Iberian Peninsula, I felt I was missing out on a huge percentage of the Spanish speaking world and was hoping to have a change to learn more about Latin America before graduating from Dickinson. I really wasn’t sure what to expect from the Mosaic, I knew the main objectives was focused on oral history and immigration to Patagonia, but other than that, I was completely in the dark about what I would find once we arrived in Comodoro Rivadavia. And what I did discover and learn was more than anything I had imagined.

First of all, I had the opportunity to live with a host family who had immigrated from Spain, most specifically, my host father, José Antonio was from Andalusia – the region where I had studied the year before. This was fantastic because he understood all of the vocabulary I had picked up during my year in Spain, some of which differed greatly from Argentine words. Also, one of the high points of the entire experience was getting to know my host mother, Maruja. She told me towards the end of my stay with them that at first she wasn’t sure if she wanted an American to stay in her house, that she wasn’t sure how they would be perceived or how an American student would behave towards an Argentine family; but that after getting to know me as a person, and not just as an American, she was extremely glad that I had come to stay with them. We talked about everything: from politics to the best way to live a happy life. She is one of the most vibrant people I have ever met and I would have gone to Argentina just to meet her. However, my experience in Argentina included so much more – from interviewing Spanish and Bulgarian women (one of whom was 80 years old and ran races) to working in the local archives researching housing in oil company towns to seeing penguins and guanacos to visiting Buenos Aires. The Patagonia Mosaic was an experience that I am proud to have been a part of and one that I will never forget.


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