Category Archives: Uncategorized

Libraries in Argentina

I’ve had the opportunity to visit four different libraries in Santa Rosa, Trenque Lauquen, Bolivar, and Tandil, Argentina. I learned a lot about how these libraries function. The most salient idea that I gleaned from all these visits was related to the need for libraries to be cultural centers. In times of economic crisis and budget cuts, libraries cannot simply act as repositories for paper materials. These three libraries in Argentina promote events to bring the community together, whether for hosting folkloric dancing, chess tournaments, and meetings of celebration and skill sharing. This concept of being a community centerpiece is equally applicable for U.S. libraries. These libraries must be used as a nexus in the circle of connectivity. Libraries still house paper books and they’re going to continue doing that for quite a while longer even as we transition to ebooks. However, libraries also offer a tremendous resource through research librarians who have exemplary resources to search for and find quality information. Libraries should have open doors for anyone seeking information and should only be the first stop as the patrons use the help from research librarians and continue to explore on their own, whether through Internet, books, magazines, newspapers, etc.

Vocational Day 2.5– Caitlin

In addition to my vocational visit to the fantastic library in Trenque Lauquen, I also had the opportunity to meet with a group of local writers.


These writers were astounding! They were unbelivably warm and welcoming and each one gave me a copy of his/her work, whether a published book or a copy of some poems. One woman pointed out that one of her poems was written about her boyfriend who was one of the desaparecidos (disappeared) from the brutal dictatorships of the 70s and 80s. 

We also talked about the process of writing. All of these writers prefer to hand-write their pieces before typing them up on computers. For them, it was very important to experience the sensation of their hands holding the pens and making contact with the paper; typing on a computer was too distant from the writing. One woman also shared her method of biking and keeping a notepad and paper in the basket and stopping and scribbling the ideas as inspiration struck.

I was also curious to learn more about the distinguishing characteristics of writing from the area (Trenque Lauquen). The writers explained that while the writers of the La Pampa region write about the landscape and the gaucho lifestyle in the country. Similarly people who are near mountains or near the ocean must write about things larger than themselves. In contrast, the landscape of Trenque Lauquen is completely flat; there are no mountains, rivers, or lakes. Essentially, nothing larger than the human being and the writer there must turn inward for inspiration and write about their thoughts, sentiments, feelings, etc. They believe that the inner-workings of the human being possesses landscapes as vast and impressive as towering mountains or infinite oceans.

The final part of this visit that made a huge impression on me was the fact that their annual published work is completely self-sustained. They do not receive outside support from the government or any outside organizations. Each member of the group contributes monetarily to ensure that their book is publishe every year. I found this fact incredibly inspiring. This group of writers believes in the value and power of writing and work hard to contribute to this project through not only their art of writing, but also through the process of publishing it.

Tandil Argentina Public Transit Observations-Brooke


Photo #1 & 2
Route map of the service in Tandil
Photo #3
The buses are color coordinated, this has not changed in over 10 years.
Photo #4
This photo was advertising a public demonstration of the change in fare.
Photo #5, 6, 7, 8
Additional photos of the the students opinion regarding the transit and the governments role and list of changes the students want to see.

My recent vocation visit in Tandil allowed for me a one-on-one opportunity with their Director of Transportation. The Director was gracious to spend the morning answering my plethora of questions regarding their transportation system. The system in Tandil, looking at the map, came close to almost covering the whole community with some sort of transportation. Which I found interesting considering it’s size. Comparable to other communities we visited Tandil was doing a pretty good job with the amount of services available to the community.

Interesting notes about Tandil’s transportation system:

Tandil has not changed it’s system in over 10 years, they can add to their system 2 kilometers a year but have not made any large route changes. They consider this a benefit as it helps sustain ridership because the community members age with the system and know how to get from point A to point B without little direction.

Public transportation buses are not ADA accessible, there is a separate private taxi in which folks can access if necessary.

The routes crisscross across town with the center mid-point originating downtown, this crisscross approach allows for majority of the city to be covered.

Change is hard, no matter what country you are in:

The Tandil transit system recently saw an increase in fees. As a result the students at the local university have demonstrated against this recent increase.

Shortly after my visit with the Director of Transportation our group headed off to a local university, as we walked the halls there was an assortment of posters up protesting the recent increase of fees for students. With a little help from my host mom I was able to translate what they said.

The posters protested the increase in fees on the students as well as their views concerning public transportation. Many of the students view transportation as a right and not a privilege and the government should provide this service. Another poster listed the demands that the students wanted met if the system is to raise their fees.

A few of the demands read as follows:

All buses should be well maintained and in good operating order

Buses should be accessible to all, ADA compliant

Buses should run on time

I was disappointed to have seen these posters after my visit with the Director of Transportation, I would have loved to inquire a little deeper into the issues and concerns of the student body with the Director, but nonetheless the posters and the visit provided me with an insight into similar challenges that face many of our communities in Idaho. The cost of transportation continues to go up and with limited funding, service provided can be greatly impacted. In Tandil the budget constraints impacted the quality of the service provided, for example poor maintained buses. In Idaho, the funding limitations unfortunately impact the quantity of the service provided.

Tandil (English / Espa??ol)

Tandil fue una de las ciudades m??s bonitas que hemos visto en nuestro viaje. Nos gust?? que nos quedemos all?? m??s tiempo (5 noches) y la oportunidad de explorar la ciudad y conocernos con los Rotarios y las familias anfitrionas.

Empezamos la visita con una conversaci??n abierta con el intendente en la municipalidad (foto).  Aprendimos un poquito de la historia de la ciudad cuando visitamos la estancia de la familia Santa Marina.

Durante el giro de la ciudad visitamos la iglesia, la Piedra Movediza, el Calvario, el castillo y un parque con un camino aer??bico y un lago (foto).  La Piedra Movediza que vimos es una r??plica como el original cay?? en 1912.  El Calvario fue especialmente muy impresionante como cada de las catorce Estaciones de la Cruz eran creado por una artista distinta y el bosque donde est??n es bien lindo.  La vista de la ciudad del castillo fue muy impresionante tambi??n.  Despu??s de un d??a aprendiendo de la ciudad, presentamos a una reuni??n de los 3 clubes de Tandil.

El d??a siguiente consisto de visitas profesional por los miembros del equipo y el l??der.  Otra vez fueron a todos lados y les gust?? el intercambio con profesionales.  Despu??s, fuimos a conocer a la universidad y vimos donde los alumnos toman clases.  En la noche uno de los Rotarios contrataron dos profesores de tango a darnos otra clase.  Esta vez los profesores no nos ensenaron pasos, pero improvacion, que fue m??s f??cil para algunos de nosotros a seguir.

El ??ltimo d??a en Tandil fue tan ocupado como los otros.  Hablamos con alumnos de clases de ingles en un secundario.  El equipo de Idaho dividi?? a varias aulas y los estudiantes nos preguntaron de nuestras impresiones de Argentina, de Idaho, la cultura de los EEUU y los impuestos que pagamos en los EEUU, etc.  Fue fant??stico!  Tambi??n conocimos un museo local donde est?? mucha de las cosas hist??ricas de Tandil (foto).  En la noche nos reunimos con algunos socios de la C??mara de Empresarios y discutimos algunos diferencias entre ser due??os de un negocio en Argentina versus los EEUU.  M??s tarde tuvimos la experiencia de la pasi??n los argentinos tienen por futbol como fuimos a cenar en una pena por el equipo de Boca. 

Las experiencias en Tandil contribuyo al viaje de Argentina y otra vez somos muy agradecidos a los Rotarios y las familias anfitrionas por su hospitalidad!

Tandil was definitely one of the prettiest cities on our trip.  We enjoyed our longer stay (5 nights) and the opportunity to explore the city and become close with the Rotarians and our host families.

We started off our visit with a candid conversation with the mayor at the town hall (photo).  We also learned some of the history of the town as we visited the estancia of the Santa Marina family. 

During our city tour we visited the church, the Moving Rock, the Calvary, the castle and a park with a great walking path and lake (photos).  The Moving Rock we visited is now just a replica, as the original fell in 1912.  The Calvary was especially impressive as each of the fourteen Stations of the Cross was sculpted by a different artist and the setting of the Calvary is in a gorgeous forested area.  The view of the city from the castle was impressive.  After a day becoming familiar with the city we presented to a combined Rotary meeting of the 3 clubs in Tandil.

The next day consisted of professional visits for the team members and leader.  Once again everyone headed in different directions and enjoyed the exchange with fellow professionals.  Additionally, we toured the local university campus and were able to see where the local students take their classes.  In the evening one of the Rotarians contracted some tango instructors to give the team another class.  This time the instructors didn???t teach steps, but taught improvisation, which was easier for some of us to follow.

Our last full day in Tandil was just as busy as the others.  We started off talking with English students at a local high school.  The Idaho team spilt up among various classrooms and the kids challenged us with questions about our impressions of Argentina, asked about Idaho, American pop culture, the taxes we pay in the US, etc.  It was great!  We also toured the local museum which houses much of the Tandil historical artifacts (photo).  In the evening we met with several members of the local Chamber of Commerce and had a lively discussion about running businesses in the US versus Argentina.  In the evening we experienced our first taste of the Argentine passion for soccer as we attended a pena dinner for the Boca soccer team.  To describe it to Americans you could say it was like a booster club dinner where the fans were very vocal, ate/drank well, and trashed the opposing team (River) non-stop. 

The experiences in Tandil enriched our Argentina experience and we are once again grateful to the Rotarians and host families for their generosity!



Rodeo Argentine-Style


Our whole team has been snapping every photo we can of the famous Argentine gauchos we encounter.

We hit the jackpot in the town of General Madariaga – known as ‘The Gaucho City’ where it just so happened that the bi-annual National Festival of the Gauchos was going on. Here’s a glimpse of rodeo – Argentine-style.

In the news…


We made the news in our last town, General Madariaga.

We now find ourselves safely in Mar del Plata but we are thankful to our wonderful hosts and the good times we had this past weekend– from an asado, a visit to a museum of natural history, to birthday parties, a gaucho festival (or rodeo) and a delicious good bye potluck dinner.

Many thanks to everyone in Gral. Madariaga for being so good to us.

Visiting a Multimedia Company in Tandil


In Tandil I had the chance to visit the multimedia company El Eco – which has a newspaper, television channel, digital site and music and news radio channels.

One of the things I have found interesting in Argentine media is the number of media outlets with multiple channels – typically radio & TV or radio & newspaper. This company encompassed all three and an impressive digital presence as well Online they have taped programming from radio and TV news programs daily. They told me they do share news resources between the different mediums. The graphic designer I met produces ads for the paper, graphics for the TV broadcasts and digital banners for the website.

Tandil is a town of 130,000 – yet they have three daily newspapers. Even in the smaller towns we’ve visited they all have their own city papers in additional to the various national papers (Clarin seems to be the most widely read )

At El Echo I had a great tour guide Silvana Mazza – who was the morning news producer for both radio and TV. She toured me through their printing press and quiet newspaper newsroom (it was the morning so no reporters were there yet.) The morning anchors took a cutaway shot of me in the studio and the morning radio host did a live interview with me and my host in Spanish (I won’t be posting that 🙂

The media company also had an amazing museum in their building and a photo of their 1891 Linotype from New York is included below.

I loved that their newsrooms actually hd windows and light! And that they has a digital display in their reception area showing classified ads and info from the paper. And the old school – but still useful – posting of the day’s paper in the front window.
– Jess

GSE : Rural Transportation Argentina, Collection of Observations- by Brooke


GSE: Rural Transportation Argentina, a collection of observations, by Brooke:

Since Santa Rosa, I have visited three additional cities in the Buenos Aires region. Trenque Luegen and Bolivar and Colonel Surueze. Santa Rosa has the most transportation services available to any of the communities we have visited however, it’s not to say that the other communities haven’t addressed their transportation needs in other ways.

Santa Rosa had a population of 102, 610 and had transportation system that included a fixed route system (see prior blog).

Trenque Luegen had a population of 40,000 and actually had no fixed route transit system, rather the municipality had a few buses designated to provide services to the schools, and senior center. A matter a fact, many of the community members said that meeting the needs of the elderly, disabled to access to health care, quality of life services was their responsibilities and could access the taxis and/or request assistance from their family members.

Bolivar had a population of 32,442 a beautiful community and like many of the others we visited was centered around a plaza. The community offered no transit, and I couldn’t find a taxi so I am assuming they didn’t exist. There were however a large amount vehicles, and unfortunately while I there I saw two crashes.

Colonel Suerez, has a population of 22,624 and had transit! Well, sorta. The services offered in Colonel Suerez were very few but present. The community has three neighboring unique German colonies, many of the community members commuted to Colonel Suerez and once in town they could connect to the fixed city route the circled the downtown area (which isn’t to big, but had a route nonetheless).

Colonel Suerez also had the largest Reebok factory in the world! We toured the factory and was amazed at the quantity of shoes that are produced and the amount of employees it takes to make 15,000 shoes a day! 3500 employees work at the Reebok factory in three eight hours shifts. The employees come from the three neighboring colonies and are transported there by Reeboks own bus or they bike. Actually, biking looked as the most popular form of getting around, even on the dirt and cobblestone streets. The young and old alike.

Reebok had quite a large bike storage area (see photo #). The Reebok factory campus was well organized and remarkable clean, we were unable to take photos of the inside but provided a few photos of the outside for you to view.

The trend with rural transit in Argentina is really no different then the states. The need for transit is evident and there exists transit but just like in Idaho, communities are spread out and very rural. The main employment and necessary services are located in the center of town. The communities we visited each recognized the need but also emphasized the responsibilities of the families to help provide for their family members.

I will say however, within each of the communities bicycling was used by all! Almost all bikes had baskets on the front and clearly were put to good use. I was delighted to see the number of elderly folks using bikes as a means to get around, navigating the streets and sidewalks with confidence in almost every city we visited.


Reebok Commuter Bus
Bike Storage Reebok
Reebok Facilities
Bike Storage Reebok

Coronel Suarez (Espa??ol / English)

El pueblo de Coronel Suarez y la ??rea alrededor eran lleno de historia y Rotarios bien interesante.  El equipo de IGE estuvo solamente tres d??as en Coronel Suarez, pero cada d??a pas?? con mucha actividad.

En Coronel Suarez el club de Rotary tiene algunos socios que son muy activos y nos pasamos mucho tiempo con ellos.  Eso grupo de socios nos llev?? a un restaurante hist??rico ???El Gringo Viejo??? la primera noche donde comimos una cena muy rica que incluy?? aperitivos, fiambre o antipasto (incluy?? pan, queso, aceitunas, salame y chorizo), pasta, pollo, carne, patatas y un bar de postres (foto).  Fue una buena manera de empezar nuestro tiempo en Suarez!

El d??a siguiente visitamos a la f??brica de Reebok ubicado en el pueblo y nos impresion?? mucho.  La fabrica produce 15,000 pares de zapatos cada d??a y ahora 3,500 personas trabajan all?? con producci??n 24 horas al d??a.  Aunque no pudimos sacar fotos, todos salimos con im??genes de todo el equipo, maquinas de cocer, y componentes que son necesarios a hacer un zapato.  Incre??ble!

Visitamos Las Colonias que cosiste de tres pueblos distintos que son de Alemanes.  Aprendiendo de la historia de c??mo la gente lleg?? y empez?? en los campos y ranchos fue muy interesante.  Tambi??n conocimos a la iglesia tan linda en la segunda colonia que fue construido con dinero de los inmigrantes.

La segunda noche presentamos de nosotros y a Idaho a los ciudadanos y los socios de Rotary en una biblioteca apoyado por Rotary.  M??s tarde en la noche cenamos tranquilamente con los socios del Rotary club de Suarez (foto).

El ??ltimo d??a en Suarez pasamos en el campo hermoso de la familia Sim??n.  La familia, con los otros socios de Rotary, nos prepar?? un almuerzo de asado.  Montamos los caballos y gastamos tiempo afuera gozando el aire tan fresco (foto).  Esa noche fuimos a la reuni??n del Rotary club de Las Colonias donde presentamos a los socios.  El club es muy animado y al fin de la noche bailamos con m??sica toc?? por acorde??n de un socio (foto).

Much??simas gracias a las familias anfitrionas en Coronel Suarez quien nos cuidaron tan bien y aseguraron que cada minuto de nuestro visita fue divertido!

The small town of Coronel Suarez and its surrounding area were filled with interesting history and Rotarians.  The Boise GSE team had a short stay in Coronel Suarez, but each day was full of activity.

In Coronel Suarez the Rotary club has a few very active members whom we were able to spend a lot of time with while we were in town.  This group took us to a great historical restaurant ???El Gringo Viejo??? our first evening where we had a great dinner which included aperitifs, fiambre or antipasto (includes bread, cheese, olives, salami and chorizo), pasta, chicken, beef, potatoes and a dessert bar (photo).  It was an amazing way to start our time in Suarez!

The following day we visited a Reebok factory located in the town and we were very impressed.  This facility produces 15,000 pairs of shoes daily and currently employees about 3,500 people with production running 24 hours a day.  While we weren???t able to take photos, we all left with images of all the many tools, sewing machines and parts it takes to make just one running shoe.  Incredible!

We also were able to visit ???Las Colonias??? which comprises three different small communities of German immigrants.  Learning the history of how the people arrived and started their farming and ranching was great.  We also visited the beautiful church in the second colony which was built with funds from the various immigrants.

The second night we presented about ourselves and Idaho at a Rotary sponsored library for Rotarians and for the public.  Later in the evening we had a relaxing dinner with the Suarez Rotary members (photo). 

Our final day in Suarez was spent at the lovely ranch of the Simon family.  They along with the other Rotary members were kind enough to provide us with a delicious asado lunch.  We were able to ride their horses and enjoy their beautiful property by just walking around and taking in the fresh air (photo).  That evening we attended the Las Colonias Rotary dinner where we shared our presentation.  That group was definitely a lively one as we ended up dancing in a sort of conga line to polka music provided by a Rotarian playing the accordion (photo).

Thanks to our kind host families in Coronel Suarez who took such great care of us and ensured we enjoyed every minute of our short visit!

~ Krista


Bol??var (Espa??ol/English)

Los tres d??as en Bol??var eran muy divertidos y ocupados.  ??ramos muy afortunados de nuevo a conocer a Rotarios tan amables y a quedarnos con familias anfitrionas maravillosas.

Empezamos con un giro de la ciudad que fue excelente donde aprendimos mucho de la historia.  Fue interesante aprender como la ciudad fue planeado tan bien desde el primer d??a y a la misma vez aprender de la rivalidad entre los espa??oles y los italianos.  Visitamos a la iglesia, la municipalidad, el teatro y el parque que fue tan hermoso.

Durante nuestro tiempo en Bol??var, reunimos con el intendente y hablamos del intercambio de Rotary (foto).  Tambi??n tuvimos la oportunidad de ir a un tambo.   En este tambo aprendimos mas del proceso despu??s que los terneros nacen (vimos dos partos!) y como son criados hasta que son inseminados y son parte del tambo oficialmente (foto).  Una noche hicimos la presentaci??n al club Rotary de Bol??var en su casa de Rotary y fue una placer a conocer a los socios.

En el ??ltimo d??a en Bol??var, tuvimos una conferencia con la prensa (foto) con el peri??dico y con la estaci??n del radio (una entrevista en vivo).  Tambi??n fuimos a La Pulper??a que es un mercado y bar viejo que todav??a est?? abierta al p??blico y es como un museo.  Ve a la entrada de Jessica abajo por m??s informaci??n y fotos.

Otra vez fue dif??cil cambiarnos a Coronel Suarez y dejar a la gente tan linda de Bol??var, pero eso es parte de este intercambio.  Siempre estamos cambi??ndonos!

Our three quick days in Bolivar were fun-filled and busy!  We were fortunate again to meet great Rotarians and stay with wonderful host families.

We started off with a great tour of the city where we learned much of the history about the city.  It was interesting to learn how well planned the city was from its inception and also to learn about the rivalry between the Spaniards and the Italians.  We visited the church, town hall, the theater and the beautiful park.

During our stay in Bolivar, we met with the mayor and chatted about the Rotary exchange (photo).  We also had the opportunity to visit a dairy.  At this dairy we learned more about the process once the calves are born (we saw two calves be born!) and how they are raised until they start they are inseminated and really become working dairy cows (photo).  One evening we gave our presentation to the very kind Bolivar Rotary club at their clubhouse and enjoyed meeting their members. 

On our final day in Bolivar, we had a press conference (photo) with the local paper and radio station (a live interview).  We also went to ???La Pulperia??? which is an old-time general store and bar, which is still open to the public and serves much like a museum.  See Jessica???s post below for more information and photos.

It was once again tough to move on to Coronel Suarez and leave the lovely people of Bolivar, but that is part of this exchange.  We are always on the move!