Sunday, November 7, 2010

Back To College...

Last week I sat in on a legal communications class at Universidad de Buenos Aires. The class was held in the Communications and Political Science Building near the beautiful and young area of Palermo. Though I couldn't understand the majority of the lesson (obviously taught in Spanish), I thoroughly enjoyed the tact and style of the professor, who reminded my friend of Santa Clause.

Coming from a large public university which has a student body boasting a certain degree of power (if not practically at least spiritually), I felt an immediate connection when walking through the tall, urban educational edifice. And like Berkeley graduates, UBA's alumni will admit to the sense that one is just a number in the grand scheme of the school's evolution and that you need a great deal of self-reliance and a formidable work ethic to succeed. But I was amazed at how firmly UBA's student presence defines the university's sense of life. There is not an empty wall in the building. Beautiful, provocative art and political messages tattoo and drape the halls of the university's most outspoken department: a stunning mosaic that leaves little doubt as to who is in control. Walking through these halls was like moving through a museum, or some intellectual art cave that explodes off of each pillar of the school's foundation.

Though the facilities are by no means state-of-the-art, and students often protest (vocally and violently) that their school should invest more in upkeep and maintenance, keep in mind that this huge and prestigious school is free for the public, unlike my alma mater and many other public universities in the United States. And unlike universities in the United States, there is no such thing as an undergraduate: UBA students are committed to their area of study for 6-8 years. The sense of commitment to study is therefore clear and tangible in the classroom, and professors are likewise committed to the students' passion in their future. Even in a less interesting class like legal communications at 7PM on a Friday, over the course of two hours at least twelve different students engaged in extended commentary on the subject and articles being taught.

Game days, greek life and other Yankee distractions don't exist here: the school spirit rests in its distinguished alumni, intellectual and creative freedom, and finding yourself amongst the multitude. Though I couldn't understand every word or concept being discussed, the passion was apparent in the students' voices, and I look forward to sitting in on and understanding more classes.

See below for more of the wonderful art in the halls of the Comm & PoliSci Building.

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