On the Go in Argentina

Antonia stands in front of a subway station in Argentina.
For Antonia DeMichiel, a student who has cerebral palsy and uses crutches, catching her next dream meant catching the next flight to Argentina.

Always looking for an adventure, Antonia had previously traveled to Mexico, Uruguay, Mali, and Nicaragua to volunteer for community development projects through BuildOn, a non-profit focused on building schools in rural communities with little school structure. So when the opportunity arose to participate in study abroad during her undergraduate study in International Studies at the University of Oregon, Antonia knew she had to go. Her destination? Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Prior to her study abroad experience, Antonia, who has cerebral palsy, worked with the program coordinators in advance to prepare for access challenges.

"All my accommodations were taken care of for my homestay and classrooms! Nuria [the Academic Director] was very nice and helpful, so that helped quell a lot of my anxieties."

In terms of her academic work, Antonia already had a plan carved out to research the differences between Argentina's accessibility laws and their implementation and felt that SIT's Study Abroad program on Regional Integration, Development, and Social Change would give her the opportunity to pursue this.

"I looked for other people with disabilities within [the communities I traveled to], and never found them. This endless search for others who shared my background always left me with bigger questions that remained unanswered."

Antonia jumped into her Argentine experience, which found her speaking in Castellano, adjusting to "la hora Argentina" ("Argentina time"), and mastering the art of hailing taxis in downtown Buenos Aires. Upon her return home, Antonia expanded on the experience's impact.

"This program exceeded my expectations academically and taught me SO much about myself. I feel an independence that's really unprecedented and a deeper faith in the path I'm foraging for myself..."

Since her study abroad in Buenos Aires, Antonia has graduated from the University of Oregon and begun working in Santiago, Chile with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps. Undoubtedly, her early experiences in traveling abroad have spurred a lifelong desire to travel and give back to international communities.