Bruins B'Olam: Elan Kramer
Bruins B'Olam is a blog series about Jewish Bruins around the world on Alternative Break experiences with UCLA Hillel. Alternative Break is a week-long immersive experience with students participating in community service projects with partner organizations. This year, Alternative Spring Break is going to the Dominican Republic on an education service trip; if you would like to join us or have more questions, please contact Jessica Jacobs at [email protected].
I attended ASB in Buenos Aires. We worked with Hillel Buenos Aires to improve quality of life for children living in the city’s many slums. The experience immersed us in the local culture through intensive work with individuals in the slums as well as cultural programming across Buenos Aires.
One of most powerful moments I can recall is when we visited a community just off the highway — the road’s end — a road of mud. The houses in this area are made of scraps that the citizens can find around. We went to the local elementary school and painted the jungle gym. There, we played with some of the kids, helped distribute food to people who were malnourished, and also taught them a little about proper nutrition. It was really powerful to see. In LA, you can go 20 minutes in one direction and run into skid row. On skid row, people are homeless. In Buenos Aires, these people all have homes, but they also have seven kids and keep having more, even though they can’t afford anything. They kept saying that this was the second world, something in between the first and third worlds.