Maria Nelida de Juano was inspired to be a Resident Director for AHA International after her time studying abroad in Portland, Oregon. Now, she lives and works in Rosario, Argentina and has been helping students experience it’s beauty for fourteen years.
What brought you to be a Resident Director?
I was an exchange student in Portland, Oregon, many many years ago, so I experienced the importance of a study abroad experience in my own life. It was definitely a life changing experience for me! While I was working at UNR as a teacher in 2001, the opportunity arose to start creating study abroad links with Oregonian universities. We have been receiving 4 groups per year (during Spring, Summer Session 1 and 2 and Fall), ever since.
What are some unique aspects of your city and country?
Rosario is located on the shore of the beautiful Parana river that comes from Brasil and overflows into the Rio de la Plata. It is about 3 hours distance from Buenos Aires. This is a very rich region of the Pampas to grow soy and other grains. Argentina has been heavily influenced by migration coming from European countries, so it is different in some ways to other Latin American countries, and at the same time, shares some trends with them. Students will have a unique experience here, different from what they have in mind for a typical Latin American life.
What is one thing most of your students may not know about you?
Before they come, they do not know I keep dear friends in Oregon from my time as an exchange student, and that I have warm feelings for the landscape there- for Mt Hood and the Willamette river! I will help them learn to love our culture as I learned to cherish the Oregonian culture.
What are some of your favorite aspects of being a Resident Director?
I feel I have the possibility to be in touch with a student’s spirit for some time, while they are away from home. Our team knows that we are dealing with this very precious material, and if we can help the students to walk through this experience successfully, the whole world will be open to them. So I feel responsible for helping them to do so!
What are some of the challenges of your job?
Sometimes students are stuck to the images of experiences they bring from home that were told to them by their friends. I insist on explaining them that each study abroad experience is unique, and they must be open to live their own!
What have you seen as the biggest challenge for incoming students?
The language! Especially when they come with very little knowledge of Spanish.
What is your advice for students planning to attend your program, or to study abroad in your country?
To be interested in living different experiences from the ones they have at home, and to be flexible and open to new things. They will make many new friends here and they might act differently form their friends at home.
What is one thing you think students shouldn’t forget to pack for life in your country?
Friendship. Argentinian people are very sociable and they easily make friends that last.
What do you think is the most important take-away for education abroad students?
Students should be open and interested in making friends and understanding the society and culture.
To learn more about attending this program, follow this link!