The Casa de la Mateada Crew (Part One)

Who are the members of the Casa de la Mateada community? Let’s start with the students, without whom there would be no program at all. In this inaugural semester of Loyola Marymount University’s new Casa program in Argentina, nine students have traveled to Córdoba from different parts of the United States and, since August, have been living, studying and working together. Getting to know one another. And their common work. They are beginning to feel like a cohort, or crew, or equipo or posse or whatever other word you might choose to describe a group of  students who, for all their distinct personalities and interests, share a common goal of entering into the life of Argentina as deeply as they can. And learning to practice the art of accompaniment here.

In the weeks to come, you will begin reading posts from the students, describing their experiences in the program–what they are learning, the questions they are struggling with, how they are changing and growing, their impressions of Córdoba, of Argentina, their emerging sense of what this program means to them, everything. For now, we want to introduce them to you, simply and briefly. What follows comes from the students themselves–each one offering an impression of at least one other member of their new community.

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Senior Loyola Marymount University student Jake Harter is continuing his study of Biology, which makes his encounter with the diversity of Cordoba’s trees, birds, and epiphytes (better know to the rest of us as “those things that grow on telephone lines”) particularly enjoyable and challenging. He is also showing himself skilled at making friends here in Córdoba, in his praxis community at El Gateado and at panaderías (bakeries) throughout the city.


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The Casa de la Mateada community has Lorena Brothers to thank for our introduction to and growing love for Dulce de Leche, for many a provocative intellectual discussion, and for her always-thoughtful comments and stories of adventure. A Sociology major at Loyola Marymount University, her strong desire to dig into the intellectual work of Casa, and to the culture and language of Argentina inspires us all (as does her loving butterfly spirit).


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Catherine Goggins is a proud Hokie (she is studying Agriculture at Virginia Tech) who has brought her love of all things agricultural to the Casa community (yes, that is Catherine gathering her minions to establish and eventually harvest a garden!). Rosemary, parsley, basil, mint, oregano and still-hoped-for carrots, lettuce and–we hope–tomatoes. Our own farm in Cordoba! She also helps to keep us attentive to the many environmental concerns facing us, both here and at home. Always cheerful and positive, where would we be without her?


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Jake Wild Crea immediately caught our attention when he told us of his major at DePaul University in Chicago. It sounds particularly impressive in Spanish: “Justicia, Paz, y Conflicto.” But important for us than its title is the way Jake embodies his engagement with these ideas, how he thinks and acts, always seeking to understand how to achieve justice and peace in relationships and larger social and political systems (though he does tend to create a little conflict on the soccer field).


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Alyssa Perez, a Loyola Marymount University junior studying theology and political science, brings a contagious joy and thoughtfulness to the life of our program. She has a natural gift for making friends and has helped us become more connected to locals here in Córdoba. And while studying in Argentina with her Casa family is a dream come true in and of itself, the realization that Justin Bieber will be performing live in concert while here in Córdoba has left her nearly speechless with joy.


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Dan Letchinger regularly charms the entire Casa crew with his thoughtfulness, humor, and guitar playing. A DePaul University junior and advertising major, he is keeping a blog chronicling his experiences in the program. A particular focus of his so far has been the Argentine art of parilla (grilling) and pretty much anything to do with food (the benefits of which are often experienced in our community).


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After visiting Casa de la Solidaridad in El Salvador with her high school classmates Amanda Montez (an LMU undergraduate studying education) decided she wanted to seek out a similarly transformative experience–in the newest Casa sister program. The students she has befriended through her praxis site at El Gateado have certainly reaffirmed her desire to teach. Those of us who have seen her in action have been moved by her natural warmth with children and adults alike.


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Sarah E. Scherk bid a semester-long adios to her Communications Studies major, Jewish Studies minor, and University Honors Program at Loyola Marymount University to bring her love of music, language, and all things lime green to Casa de la Mateada. Her wonderful memory for Spanish vocabulary has served us well so far and we hope to repay her with the memories she makes this semester!


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Kayleigh Sobieski, a senior studying psychology at LMU, brings lots of humor, cheer and understanding to the Casa de la Mateada family. An early riser and avid yogurt eater, her outgoing spirit helps her make the most out of every bit of this shared experience while encouraging each of us to do the same.


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