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Learning chacarera and building houses

Over a week in April, Natalie Calderon, Year 10, Elena Menendez-Sanchez, Year 9, and Olivia Taylor, Year 11, travelled to Argentina with teacher Mhairi Flood and took part in the Regional Round Square Conference hosted by the Belgrano Day School.

The theme of the conference was “Embrace the Opportunity” and there were students from 23 schools from the US, Colombia, Peru and Canada in attendance.

Student delegates took part in workshops and learnt about Argentinian art, handicrafts, tango, folklore, chacarera (genre of folk music and dance) and they also built seven houses during the weekend with a local company Techo.

“The family I built for consisted of the mother and father of a five-month-old baby; both of the parents looked young. They'd been living in the same house as the grandmother for a very long time and were hoping for a new house, but they couldn't afford one. The whole neighbourhood that we were building for was quite poor and it was a very rewarding experience to know we were helping in some small way.”

Natalie reflected on her experience: “At the end of the day, we got to see what we had created. It was an amazing feeling to see the completed house and listen to how grateful the volunteers and family were for our assistance.

“There wasn't a dry eye on the site, and it was an incredibly humbling and rewarding experience to have been a part of.”

The two keynote speakers at the conference spoke to the students about the importance of leadership and service during three scheduled speeches.

Ben Walden was a former Globe actor who inspired and entertained everyone with his reflections on leadership. When they weren't participating in workshops, the girls had the opportunity to go on a Buenos Aires photo safari, a tour of the cathedral, see a polo presentation, and spend time with their host families.

Elena said: “I got to meet so many different, incredible people with new and innovative views, the new friends and new information changed me. I think I've become a more open and talkative person because of this.

“I also have a more optimistic view on the world and how we can change it for the better, knowing that all of our ideas are important and our voices will be listened to.”

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Published May 12, 2017 at 11:32 am (Updated May 12, 2017 at 11:32 am)

Learning chacarera and building houses

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