Friday, February 3, 2012

Update from Uruguay!

L-R: Marjan, Kristen & Tara

Below is our first update from our Urugay exchange participants, Kristen, Tara and Marjan.

Hola de Uruguay!

We arrived Sunday morning at 11am, and were picked up from the airport by Adrian and Omar. Then we were taken to our home stays. I am staying with an elderly lady named Margarita, who is in many ways the Uruguyan version of my Grandma. The last two days we have spent acclimatizing to the hot, humid weather of Montevideo, while meeting everyone from the ACJ, the Asociacion Cristiana de Jovenes. We’ve been sharing information about our different facilities in Canada, and learning about the various Y facilities here in Uruguay.  It is refreshing to see that we are so far away from home, yet the Y is just as strong with its programs and values here in Uruguay. Of course things are run a little differently here, however most importantly our countries are both working towards the same goals.  It is enlightening to listen to people here talk about the Y, and see the belief and passion they have for the organization.  It seems as though the organizations are focused in the same areas, recreation and social programs. The most important thing to the people here is building relationships between members and practising the core values in action.

The Downtown branch, which I am currently staying right next to, is a centre focused on child and youth programs. There is a gym and a pool, and people have memberships; however, the majority of the programs running right now are day camps for children and youth ages 2-17. We’ve been helping run the day camps during the afternoons, and it’s been a blast! The kids are adorable of course, and eager to show us they can count to 10 in English and say various things.  Yesterday, we had the opportunity to see the new school in the process of being built. The school will be for pre-schoolers, and the people from the Y are very proud and excited about it. They will be opening in March of this year, and will start off with a small class of ten children, with hopes of growing in the near future.

This weekend Marjan, Tara and I are being sent to the beach to get to know each other better, and to see the resort town of Punta Del Este.   We will then be off to Campamento Artigas next Tuesday. The following weekend we are going to San Jose to see the facility there and learn about the social programs going on. This Thursday we are also going to get the chance to talk more in depth about the social programs going on in Montevideo.

Other than that, the food has been amazing, and the people have gone above and beyond to ensure we are comfortable and safe. Tara, Marjan and I are getting to know each other, and we are very happy to be here!

I hope all is well at home! Take care,

Kristen Schmidt
YMCA-YWCA of Winnipeg

So far so good!

What a great opportunity! What a country! We have been welcomed with open arms. Everyone we meet is so kind and seems to be just as eager to learn English as we are to learn Spanish. It has really been a treat to see the similarities between the YMCA of Uruguay and Ys across Canada. They stress the importance of the YMCA core values and boast of all of their life-long Y members.

Though we have only been here a couple days we have already experienced so much and can´t wait to see what´s next.


Tara Molson 
YMCA Regina

Hi from Uruguay! 

Everything is going SO well and we love how beautiful it is here!  So far, we have spent the week visiting the different YMCAs in the capital city, and meeting some of the staff and the kids.  It's been really nice to build relationships with the staff and the kids at YMCA, because a lot of the same kids will be at Camp Artigas next week when we go.  It's also been so interesting to see how similar their YMCAs are to ours in Canada. We have had the chance to see a lot of their programs and how they run this week, and it's amazing how we do almost the exact same things in our children and youth programs as they do!  There's a bit of a language barrier because they predominantly speak Spanish (and my Spanish is pretty rustic!), but just by observing the programs, we can see the quality of their programs and we are able to point out the similarities. Yesterday, we helped with a program for 6 and 7 year old children. Their counsellor sat them all in a circle and started to explain a game.  Instantly, Kristen, Tara and myself were able to join the game because we had all played the same game with children in our programs back in Canada!  

Everyone here from the YMCA has been so hospitable to us!  The host family I am staying with this week has been taking very good care of me as well!  

We will continue to take pictures and keep you updated on everything that's happening here!  Talk to you soon!

Marjan Mogharrabi

We look forward to future updates from the exchange!

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