127th Year No.31                                                                                                    Thursday, August 19, 1999

Local Spanish teacher visits Buenos Aires


Anne Evetts, Clarksville High School Spanish teacher, recently returned from a month long visit to Buenos Aires, Argentina. In her words, a chance of a lifetime.

Evetts' trip was made possible through the auspices of Rotary District 5830, Clarksville Rotary Club and the Rotary Interdistrict Teacher Exchange (RITE) program between participating countries.

In January 1999, two teachers, Ana Maria Brondone and Norma Fernandez from Buenos Aires were guests of Rotarians in Clarksville and taught Spanish in Red River County schools. "Our seasons are reversed," Evetts said. "They visited here during their summer, and then I visited in Buenos Aires for a month during our summer break."

An aerial view of downtown Buenos Aires, Argentina, taken from a police helicopter in which Anne Evetts was honored to be allowed to ride.  She became acquainted with the Buenos Aires police officers when she taught English to them, as well as to elementary students, while visiting in the country for a month through the Rotary Interdistrict Teacher Exchange (RITE) program between participating countries.

Mrs. Evetts was hosted by Rotary District 4890 in the Villa Del Parque neighborhood of Buenos Aires and was a guest in the home of Ms. Brandone. "She is not a member of Rotary, as I am not a member of Rotary," Evetts said. AShe didn=t have to host me during my stay, but we became friends when she and Norma were in Clarksville. And she feels the teacher exchange program is that important.

Ana Maria=s nine-year-old son Gabriel became the teacher=s friend and companion throughout her visit. AHe is all boy,@ Evetts said, "but lots of fun. He kept me energized."

Mrs. Evetts was first approached in February to visit Argentina. "Ana Maria suggested it to me while she was :here," she said. "Then Rotarian Rill Rains asked me to go.

Initially, Anne gave them an emphatic "no!" "I told them I had a 20-year-old cat," she said. "And I couldn't leave him." She wasn't concerned about her grown son Chris, or her self reliant husband Doug. Just her elderly cat Pete. "He depends on me. Nobody else does."

Anne Evetts had the unnerving (but delightful) experience of being interviewed in Spanish on a Buenos Aires radioshow.  She is pictured with two popular Latin deejays who, she reported, spoke Spanish slowly to be sure she could understand, and she answered in Spanish--slowly--to be sure she made no mistakes.

Eventually everyone convinced her the opportunity was too good to pass up, "and my `friends Susan, Paula, and Teela, and my mother promised to take turns feeding and visiting with Pete.

"Despite an incident or two, they must have done their job well. Pete was just fine when I returned home."

Evetts reported she taught conversational English to school children and to officers of the Buenos Aires Police Department. "The first English phrase I taught the officers was:'Put your hands on your head or I=ll shoot'," she laughed. "I suppose they get a lot of English speaking crooks.

"And in return I was able to learn first hand about their culture and lifestyles," she said.

One of the first thing Anne noticed was the number of pizzarias everywhere in the city. "Everyone loves 

pizza.., and it is delicious," she noted. "It's pizza more like what I think Italians make in Italy.

She said there are many people in Buenos Aires of Italian heritage.

Anne Evetts answers questions from Argentine students, curious about the United States, our lifestyles and culture.

"Everyone is also very family oriented," she added. "Very demonstrative, very warm and loving. They like to be together for hours, talking, gesturing and singing 'Tango'. It's as much singing as dancing. Every tango song tells a story.

Anne enjoyed the people. AI=m a people watcher.@ She enjoyed the architecture, the food and the culture. AI loved being in a city so big since our little town is so small,@ she explained. ABut I also enjoyed knowing it was temporary and that I would be coming home.@

The Argentine city sports modern shopping malls, but also has vegetable stands on every block. AThat was nice and convenient.@

Anne also visited a WalMart Super Center, Amuch like ours ...but the grocery section was like a gourmet center," she recalled, "with all kinds of cheeses, seafood. Everything imaginable."

Clarksville High School Spanish teacher Anne Evetts, visited in Buenos Aires, Argentina, for one month, courtesy of the Rotary Interdistrict Teacher Exchange Program.  she taught English classes in an Argentine school and in turn, learned much about her students and their culture.

On the negative side, Anne reported the economy is in poor health, with people trying to "do anything to make money.

"They also need some kind of emissions control. The air pollution is very bad."

According to Evetts, she felt like a celebrity with the school kids. "They were so excited to have me," she recalled, "that I became excited. The work was fun.. and they wanted to know everything about the United States. And about our schools."

"They even wanted my autograph," Anne spoke with a self deprecating tone. "That was a first for me.., signing autographs."

She reported the schools are old-fashioned with wooden floors and no carpets. The children have few materials and must buy their own books. They all wear pinefores or lab coats.

"The teachers are overworked and underpaid," Anne said. "Some of them have to teach in as many as five schools in one day.

"As a matter of fact, some teachers went on strike while I was there."

"Everyone works so hard in Buenos Aires," she continued. "They work harder than we do. They seem to be workaholics... but that may be because they have to make a decent living." According to the Clarksville teacher her trip was a wonderful, valuable learning experience... Abut at the same time, it made me appreciate what we have hereBclean air, open areas, friendly people.

AI never realized before, but we live in a paradise.@

AAnd most of all,@ she concluded, Awe have no traffic jam. Yikes! They scared the fool out of me everytime I got in a car.

ABut here I am, back at home, safe and sound. Thanks, Rotary, for my once-in-a-lifetime trip.@


Copyright © Red River County Chamber of Commerce

Republished With Permission of Bill Rains 08/22/99

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Last updated on 08-22-99