I have spent every summer since my childhood at a Jewish summer camp, leadership training convention or internship. For once, a Jewish summer program was not on my radar. I hoped to take advantage of this summer to affirm my interest in my career path, geriatric social work, and apply my Spanish education before I forget everything. Yet, while searching 10 pages deep into an international internship website, I stumbled across something that checked all the boxes and, go figure, is a Jewish summer program. If nothing else, I think this summer affirms that I’m destined to work in the Jewish community. I’m not complaining – I do have a lot of background there.
The multi-week Jewish Service Corps Fellowship in Buenos Aires, Argentina is an eight week program to work with, meet and learn about the Argentine Jewish community. My main volunteer placement is at LeDor Vador (translation: Generation to Generation), a state of the art senior living facility. I work four mornings a week in occupational therapy there, assisting staff and residents with mosaic, painting or other projects. Once a week, I help guide computer classes, usually sitting aside one woman who is particularly challenged with using the mouse. Two afternoons a week I go to a nonprofit medicine bank facilitated by one of the social service agencies in the community, where I sort and box medications for distribution across the country to those in need. I also attend a weekly gathering of a group of local Holocaust survivors and volunteer at a foster home.
I sought an internship to fulfill those two main goals: affirm my passion for working with older adults and solidify my knowledge of Spanish. Though I did not seek out a Jewish experience, I am grateful for the opportunity to observe a community that is parallel to, yet quite different from my own. I hope to build relationships between our communities and bring home new ideas engaging our elderly community members. Mostly, I hope to return home with a perfect Porteño (Buenos Aires) accent.