Rotary InterCountry Teacher Exchange

Rotary exchange brings teacher to area

By Mary Madewell
The Paris News

Published February 10, 2003

Argentina culture came into North Lamar High School classrooms last week as an English teacher from that country shared similarities and differences with students as part of a Rotary Clubs-sponsored exchange program.

Speaking to a high school Spanish class, Estela Liliana Bulacio of Buenos Aires told students that Argentina provides free public education through college along with a free health care system.

She is speaking at several Lamar County schools during her three-week stay here. In Argentina, the educator works as a hospital secretary in the mornings and teaches English to fourth and fifth grade students in the afternoons.

“The free clinics are crowded, and many people go to private doctors,” the teacher said, expressing her general satisfaction with the system.

“The public universities are open to anyone who completes high school,” Bulacio said, adding that just like in the United States not all students complete high school.

The country has both public and private elementary, high schools and universities with the private schools being more advanced and quite expensive, she said.

“You are very well behaved students,” she said, explaining that students in Argentina are not always so cooperative.

“Yes, we have fights in the classrooms,” she replied to a student question.

Computers are limited to labs, she said, noting that she is impressed with the numbers of computers inside classrooms in American schools.

Crime is high in Argentina, the teacher said. There are many prisons, but there is no death penalty.

“I don’t think my country will ever have a death penalty,” she said.

“It is the opinion of most of my people that if you are wealthy enough you can stay out of prison in the United States,” she said.

When asked her opinion of a possible war in Iraq, the teacher expressed apprehension.

“War is not good,” she said. “Our people know what war is, and we don’t want to see a war.”

On a less serious note, the educator explained that seasons in Argentina, being south of the equator, are reversed from those in North America.

“It is very hot there right now, and I am glad to be where it is cool,” she said.

Asked about sports, Bulacio named soccer as the premier athletic event drawing enthusiastic and often unruly crowds. Other sports include tennis, basketball, volleyball, hockey and rugby.

“No one plays American football,” she said.

Foods are simpler in Argentina, the teacher said, explaining she eats fresh fruits and vegetables along with meat, poultry and fish.

“We don’t use a lot of seasonings and not so much salad dressings,” she said.

“There are thousands of McDonald’s in our country,” she replied to a student’s question.

The teacher explained how Christmas is celebrated in her native land.

“At midnight on Christmas Eve we toast, exchange kisses and have dinner,” she said. “About 2 a.m. or 3 a.m. we exchange presents.”

Schools are on summer break from Dec. 1 through March 1, so students are out for the holidays, she said.

Explaining that 90 percent of the people in Argentina are Catholics, the teacher said other religions include protestants, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons and Mennonites.

Answering another student’s question, the teacher said that Renault, Ford, Toyota and Chevrolet are popular cars with Kawasaki and Suzuki being the most popular motorcycles.

Republished with permission.

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Rotary International

Relocated 02-10-2003
Updated 11/24/2005

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