Park Scholars Go Global

Park Scholars Go Global

Discover what some of our Park Scholars abroad are doing.

Posted by Kyla Pigoni at 8:33PM   |  Add a comment


By Zeke Spector, Junior

This semester I am studying in Cordoba, Argentina. Cordoba is the cultural capital and the second largest city in Argentina. I am here studying the language and exploring the culture as well as the geography of Argentina. I am currently living with a host family (which as we speak, my host-father is attempting to use my host-brother's computer in the other room--quite a funny thing to listen to). This has been a really wonderful experience so far. Being able to communicate with someone of a completely different culture and language has been one of the most frustrating and rewarding experiences of my life. I find great joy in just being able to explain a simple story such as going to the corner store. Another experience, which I later challenged myself to orally retell in my Spanish class (I used lots of sound effects to fill in the harder details), has been posted on my personal blog. I have received really excellent feedback on it and I would like to share it with those reading this one:

It was a morning like any other—except for the first time, I was wearing pants to school. The temperature had cooled off and warranted the use of clothing to cover my exposed, white, gringo legs. I was sitting on the bus with another girl from the program, Emily, who lives in my neighborhood. The bus ride was smooth and the bus driver was cruising through the route. We arrived at school and as I got up to leave the bus, I realized my pen was on the ground. “Oh darn,” I thought “I always lose my pens.” It all happened in an instant. I was off the bus and feeling my pockets to see if anything else fell out.

My wallet. It’s still on the bus.

I begin running after the bus. I drop my bag and yell from down the block if Emily can take it into school. I cut across a field and a street, running in front of another bus, but I’m not fast enough. It was not a good day to wear pants.

I give up. I slow down. Some student with my bike asked me what happened. “Do you have your ticket? It tells you what bus you were on and you can call the company,” he tells me. The ticket's in my wallet. Nice.

I walk back to school still a little out of breath. Emily is waiting in the office with my bag. “Any luck?” she asks. No luck. For now.

I go back out to the bus stop. I figured I would just wait for the bus to come back around in the route. The university is pretty much at the end of the line. Buses keep coming and passing. I would walk into the middle of the street nervously whenever a bus would turn the corner. I’d squint to see the number and, with disappointment, I would walk back to the sidewalk. Finally— after 25 minutes, there it was, my bus: E5. Now, at this point, I really wasn’t sure if this was even my exact bus. It could have been one of the many E5’s that I didn’t take that morning. I put out my hand to signal for the bus to pool over. VRRRROOOOOOOOMMM.

The bus cruised right by. And again, I’m running after it swearing in Spanish and yelling what I thought was wallet, cartera, which, as I found out later, actually means “purse.” So here I am; a blonde haired gringo in pants and Nike mid-tops with a bright green back-pack yelling after a bus swearing and yelling “MY PURSE MY PURSE! YOU HAVE MY PURSE!” Yeah, I blend in well…

That was all I had—that was my plan. I was left with nothing but the bus number “174” on the back of the bus as it drove into the distance—taunting me as if to say “You failed!” I acknowledged to myself I was probably going to take the morning off to cancel my cards, order a new ISIC, and bum a couple bucks from a friend for a bus fare home.

Then a man who saw me running and swearing asked me what happened. I explained the story to him in out of breath Spanish and he seemed genuinely concerned. “Take a cab and follow it,” he suggested. Yeah…I’ll pay the driver in puppy dog eyes. I’VE GOT NO MONEY. That didn’t seem to phase this man. He pulled a cab over and hurriedly explained the story. Everything happened so fast and all of sudden I’m in this cab going “We’ve got to find bus 174!” In my life, I’ve always wanted to jump into a cab and yell “Follow that (insert exciting article).” Unfortunately for me, I could not conjugate the word seguir (to follow) in command form. Next time, I guess.

And away we went.

At this point, the bus was well out of sight. However, this is the bus I take home everyday from school, so I knew its route. We’re on a four lane, one-way street. The street is divided by a pedestrian sidewalk in the middle so there are two lanes on each side. I look over down the street—I see it! It’s on the other side of the sidewalk. We were literally parallel to it. We’ve got it!

RED LIGHT! The bus made a left towards one of the busiest parts of town, Plaza San Martin. I knew we could meet it there, but the street the bus turned down is narrow and makes passing difficult. Meanwhile, we’re still at the red light and I’m the back yelling “VERDE! VERDE! GREEN DAMN IT!” Finally, green light, and we speed off. I’m on the edge of my seat as we turn the corner, but the bus is out of sight. DAMN IT!

We cruise. Plaza San Martin is up ahead. I see that the bus has stopped to pick up riders, but it looks as if it’s about to pull out and continue. The cab pulls over in front of the bus, and I jump out before the cab has reached a complete stop (sorry, Mom). “Mister! Mister! You have my purse!” I yell and wave my arms. The bus driver still has his door open and is looking at me as he begins to pull into the other lane.

We had a moment. The bus driver and I. It was the moment where that bus driver had considered stopping his bus to let me on and look. However, that moment was cut short and his decision was made up for him by the other bus in the lane he was turning in to. CRASH! Bus 174 and another bus collide. The other bus doesn’t stop, it doesn’t have time. Instead it continues to scrape against bus 174.

I had my hands covering my mouth. I think I was half smiling. I was part in shock, part fascinated (I love collisions where no one is hurt, they’re just fascinating), and part happy. I could get my wallet. Talk about deus ex machina. Something in this world, whether it be fate, luck, or even God, came to my rescue and put another bus in the way of bus 174.

“Well, now you can check,” the bus driver said to me as he walked off the bus to inspect the damage. At this point, I’m still not 100% sure this is my bus to begin with. I walk on, make my way to the back through the confused riders. There was girl sitting in my seat. “Get up! Get up! I’m looking for my purse!” I look on the floor—my pen! Now I would have the ability to write and more importantly I guessed correctly—it was my bus.

But where’s my wallet? That was the real prize. The confused girl I’m assaulting with my haste looks to the side of her chair. Wedged in between the seat and the side of the bus is my wallet. BINGO! CHEERS! WE DID IT!

I apologize to the girl and run off the bus. The bus driver is trying to fix the front part of his bus. I hold up my wallet. “I got it!” He isn’t having it. He was not amused. I put my hands together and bow to him saying “I’m so sorry about your bus.” He seems to not even understand. Oh well…I’m late for class. I get in the cab which I had asked to wait, and away we go.

Unbelievable. I could not believe I found my wallet…and caused a bus accident. The cab driver asked me if I was happy. You’re damn right I’m happy! I give the man 15 extra pesos as a tip on top of the 15 peso fare (that’s less than 4 dollars as a tip, but they never receive tips in the first place, so his face lit up like a light bulb).

Since then, I have been more careful with my wallet, putting it in my backpack when I get on the bus. I also check my pockets before I get off. The weather returned to warm, so I’ve switched back to shorts. I now wear sunglasses when I get on any bus—I’m worried that bus driver is after me. One day we’ll meet again. I can only hope when we do, another act of fate/luck/God intervenes as not to bring about my demise. Finally, I learned I carry a billetera, or a wallet.

I also would like to take some space to apologize to those who were on that bus—I hope I didn’t make you late to work or inconvenienced you. That wasn’t my intention and not all Americans are as careless as me. I’m sure those 50 or so Argentines on the bus that day read my blog and will understand…

I will be returning to the states at the beginning of July and plan to spend my summer in between Ithaca and New York City.



Posted by Kyla Pigoni at 11:17AM   |  Add a comment

By: Abby Sophir, Sophomore

After our three-week homestay in Bangata, I have compiled a list of 26 interesting, random, half-serious and likely useless observations, facts, and tidbits of advice. Perhaps they will come in handy in your future endeavors.

1. Doors and alarm clocks are overrated. Sheets of fabric and chickens do just fine.


2. Beware of potholes when playing soccer. Stuff shoes in the biggest one.

3. Family structure can be extremely confusing. The children running around the house, fetching water, and eating dinner with you, may or may not be your siblings.

4. Cooking chapati is an art. It's probably better not to get in Mama's way.

5. It's hard to beat waking up to a warm bucket-shower. Just be careful, the water may still be boiling.

6. Avoid offending people. It's very hard to apologize in a new language.

7. Walking is not an option when going down hills after a big rain. You will either run or slide.

8. Music must be listened to loud enough so that conversations are not possible. The day has not yet begun until the nyumba (house) is bumping with Gospel music.

9. On a similar note, gospel music videos are ridiculously catchy. For all you TV-R Parkies— Despite what we are told in class, there is (at least) one entire country that loves iMovie transitions. The more frequent and corny the better. 

10. Freshly milked cow milk in my cup of tea is not my cup of tea.

11. Two men holding hands is commonplace in Tanzanian. Homosexuality, however, is illegal. 

12. To make an an object a toy just put it on a stick. This includes but is certainly not limited to leaves, water bottles, Blue Band butter lids, etc.

13. Transcans are non-existent. Got wrappers? Boxes? Paper? Just throw it out the window into the yard.

14. There are 30 different types of bananas and they are extremely versatile. They can/will be eaten for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, as main courses, desserts, or with tea. Bananas as we know them (called 'ndizi sukari') are miniature and ridiculously delicious. Also, banana tree is a main staple in cows diets.

15. Justin Bieber is everywhere. As are Chris Brown and Usher. 

16. If you spend an hour trying to hang a mosquito net, be certain it is hung the correct way or getting into an out of bed will require contortion.

17. Bangatans are amazing at remembering names. I am terrible.

18. Befriend a four year-old. Especially if you are going into a homestay not knowing the local language.

19. Nike got it right. Sometimes you've got to "Just Do It", even if you don't understand why you're being asked to eat a seventh chapati, wash your feet before school when you walk through a river, or taken an umbrella when it's hardly drizzling. (Just sure not to forget the umbrella at school...)

20. Bangatans are always "sorry" for each other— Working in the field, walking home from school, visiting a friend's house, and playing soccer are all valid reasons for people told "Pole" (Sorry).

21. A heaping bowl of 'chips' (aka greasy french fries) is a well-balanced meal.

22. Tanzanian/Kenyan mangoes are perhaps the most delicious fruit I have ever eaten. Just beware of the occasional one with bugs living inside.

23. If you give a kid a pack of gum, the whole neighborhood will have a piece in a matter of minutes. If you give a kid a piece of chocolate, the whole neighborhood will gather around you in a matter of minutes.

24. HAND-WASHING CLOTHES FOR DUMMIES: 1. Wash with soap. Technique is key 2. Wash with clean water 3. Rinse again 4. Hang to dry INSIDE OUT

25. REVISED #24: Attempt to replicate what siblings are doing while Mama watches, mumbles something to under Mama, and laughs. Watch as she re-washes your clothes.

26. Be prepared for a four-hour church service. Even if there are empty benches you will sit shoulders touching, eight to a bench.

Here are some more photos to paint a better picture of the last three weeks in Bangata!

My home is the white one! Another student, Jake, stayed in the orange one next door. Our Babas (fathers) are brothers and Bibi (their mother) lives on the other side of our house. This is one of the rare moments when there aren't kids running around the 'complex'.

From right to left: Our house, Bibi's house, an unfinished home (another one of Baba's brother's) that serves as an optimal playground. The choo (bathroom) that we share is behind the unfinished home.
View of Mt. Meru from the choo.
The kitchen where Mama works her magic over a wood-burning stove, usually with a cell-phone in her mouth as a light.

My room!
The front yard.
Kayla and Jake on our walk to school.

River crossing on the way to school. 
If you look very closely you can see my home on Kivesi Hill in a small village called Ngiresi.  The photo was taken close to our school in Bangata. (To clarify, Ngiresi is part of Bangata)

My 3 year-old sister Glory, more commonly called 'Baby'.

My 10 year-old brother Erick, nicknamed 'Mba'.

Me, Baby, and Doli. Doli lives next door (she is one of Jake's homestay sisters) and had always got my back. She's awesome.

Doli, Baby, and Lilli, who also lives next door.

For class on Wednesday, we took a trip to Arusha (the closest city) to practice our Swahili at the Sokoni (market). We were given money to barter for the ingredients to make fruit salad, chai masala, and guacamole. The next day we cooked up a feast!

Emma and Addie showing off our fruit salad display, complete with fresh bananas, oranges, mangoes, pineapple and watermelon.

One of several waterfalls in Bangata.

I don't think I'll ever get used to how casually little kids carry around machetes here.
Climbing a cliff to get back to school.

All the girls at our end-of-homestay party. We were all given beautiful, custom-made Tanzanian dresses from our Mamas.

Top row from left to right: Mama Kabda (Jake's Mama), Festo (Jake's brother), Jake, Me, Mama Levis (my Mama!)
Bottom row: Levis (my 15 year-old brother), Babu (Jake's brother), Baby
** Jake's two sisters and brother, my younger brother, and both of our Baba's who work in Nairobi are missing from this picture**

Our amazing Swahili teachers with Tara.

Mia and I in our dresses! The cleanest we've been all trip.


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