The Miami school where American boys of Argentine descent cook chipá and sing Aurora
Discover the Iguazu Falls, draw the Aconcagua, celebrate the May revolution And cook typical dishes, As the chipa and the cupcakes. With these and other activities, 30 American children Argentine descendants learn about the geography, history and traditions of our country from the classrooms of a school located within the public university Miami Dade College-North Campus, in the state of Florida.
With classes planned based on the curricular design of our country, the education provided by the Argentinian school Mia it is complementary to the teaching that children receive in American schools. “The students attend once a week, and they are taught the Spanish language and the culture of our country. They have social studies subjects, which include history, geography and civic education, with the art as a cross axis. In all the classes the boys develop things with art; sometimes, it is the beginning of a class and others, the reinforcement”, explains Silvia Rech, founder and director of the institution, who worked for 30 years as a teacher at the Cristo Rey school, in the Buenos Aires city of Lanús.
Argentina Mia is in the program of Argentine schools abroad of Ministry of Education of the Nation. It is the only one in the state of Florida and the sixth in the world; the other five are in Washington, Los Angeles, Greenwich, New York and Paris.
Although this institution is recognized by the educational portfolio and grants its graduates the official title of having studied in an Argentine school, since its creation in 2019 it has functioned as a nonprofit organization which receives contributions from the monthly fee paid by its students ($200 for face-to-face classes and $100 for virtual classes) and donations from third parties.
With the motto “We all do school”, on Saturdays they dictate face-to-face classes for initial level and first cycle, and this year they opened the registration for second cycle students. As in the public schools of our country, in the classrooms of Miami students are greeted by Argentine teachers who wear white overalls, raise the flag and sing Aurora.
The play, the creativity and respect for the pace of learning is one of the main differences between this school and the traditional teaching of the United States, where education is behaviorist with continuous evaluations. “The part of the direct experience with reality, with exploring, with playing, is lost in the American school by giving them other content. The Argentine school seeks precisely to give them this game that the boys raised here do not have, “he says. Maria Alexandra Vigo, who taught at Buenos Aires until he moved 20 years ago to U.S. There he began to teach Spanish in schools in that country and to the children of the first cycle of Argentina Mia.
To deepen the bond with traditions, the institution carries out school events in the National holidays in which students learn about heroes and the history of our country, dressed in typical garments of those times. And they even cook cupcakes. Other times, in the workshops, they cook chipa.
“The Argentine school in Miami allows us to have something here where my children feel that they are Argentine,” says the Argentine who has lived in the United States for fifteen years Adriana Arana, mother of Nicolás (8 years old), Benjamín (7) and Sabrina (4), three of the students who attend this school from day one. They were born in the United States, but are bilingual with “a very Argentine Spanish”; They study at a public school in Miami and on Saturdays they attend Argentina Mia’s classes.
“They learn a lot in a very playful, very artistic way, they learn without realizing it and they reengage,” says Arana, noting that many times the school works as a trigger so that her children later ask her and her husband, specific things they learned from the Argentinian culture, but want to know more about it.
For those who cannot attend the classrooms, virtual classes are also taught by two teachers who connect twice a week from Buenos Aires. On Wednesdays they give a literacy workshop with books by Argentine authors and on Saturdays they develop the contents around the artistic.
The neuroscience plays a determining role in the teaching process provided by this educational institution. The teachers assure that this way they manage to capture more of the attention of their students: “It is to see the child in an integral way, not only that he is filled with theoretical knowledge and that he knows everything about Argentine geography and its culture, we also seek that they can experience it. We develop cooking workshops, even being virtual we do dance classes, such as folklore or chacareras; a lot of what we do is through sound”, he explains Maria Jose Falabella, teacher of the first cycle, attended virtually by children from 6 to 8 years old.
During the two hours in which the virtual classes, teachers teach these American children about the language and culture of the country where their parents were born. “Now we are going through the project of the wonders of Argentina and we are working with the Iguazú Falls. All that is visual and sound stimulation we arm it with digital resources and games, and we try to give them an education where they can experiment,” says Falabella.
Virtual teaching makes it possible to shorten the distance between students like Isabella, 8, and Zuri, 7, who live in the Guam Island, located in the archipelago of the Mariana Islands in the western Pacific. Through the computer, they can learn the language and learn more about the country where their grandmother and mother were born. With little vocabulary in Spanish, the girls still manage to understand their teacher and carry out the activities. “For me it is important that they know something about Argentina, its language, that they better understand how to communicate and that they learn about its culture, its food and its people,” he explains. Anabela Kessembe, who at the age of 3 left with his family to live in New York. “I came from a very young age and, honestly, I didn’t have many opportunities to learn. I want them to know more about Argentina than I do,” says Kessembe, who, living in Guam, cooks empanadas because it is one of their favorite foods daughters.