Argentinian students visit Weber


Students at Colegio Tarbut upper school studying hard. (courtesy of of Colegio Tarbut)

Aliza Abusch-Magder

Colegio Tarbut is 5,018 miles away from Weber, but the similarities far outweigh our differences. Colegio Tarbut is a Jewish private school based in Buenos Aires, Argentina that attracts a wide range of Jews by bringing them together to create one academic community, much like Weber. This past week, Weber students are participated in a cultural exchange, hosting students from Colegio Tarbut during the school week and for Shabbat. While in Atlanta, the students visited all of the main tourist attractions including Fox Theater, World of Coke, Georgia Aquarium, Martin Luther King Center, CNN Studio Tour and the Center for Civil and Human Rights.

Señora Laura Bowers, the Weber coordinator for the cultural exchange, spoke to the importance of the social aspect in the program. “It’s all about friendship,” she emphasized, “we want to create friendships across culture.” It seems like the program has been a success in this regard. I spoke to junior Sydney Fialkow whose Argentinian partners Sofia and Miranda are best friends and cousins. They contacted each other two weeks before their visit and talked mostly about how excited they were to meet in person as well as connecting on social media. In an all-school assembly, they shared their excitement to attend Weber’s Tailgate Fall Dance and to go to Waffle House afterward, which they did and is now a memory that Sydney treasures. After spending this past weekend together Sofia, Miranda and Sydney learned that they all love slushies and watching soccer and beyond that,  they learned that their cultures and religious practices are more similar than they initially thought.

Far more than social, this program invites dialogue across differences and encourages students from both sides to step out of their comfort zone, not only meeting new people but being vulnerable to different perspectives and backgrounds. With language barriers, cultural gaps and different levels of observance, the students in the exchange are put to the test to find commonalities and to have meaningful discussions, simulating the complexity of social life on many diverse college campuses. These Weber students are learning to be open to new perspectives as well as strengthening their Spanish while making a new friend.