Interested in traveling to Latin America, and/or improving your Spanish? If so, why not do so in Uruguay? I’ve got some materials to get you interested and prepared, because I just really want you to discover this place.
Those materials constitute the photojournalistic project I’ve been able to complete on my Fulbright grant here. It consists of photos and interviews of 12 women from the interior of the country, ranging in age from nine to ninety-three. One is from Dolores, just coming into the delightful misery of young adulthood, who will have to move to Montevideo soon to study, but doesn’t want to; another came here on a boat from Italy when she was seven.
Listening to the interviews could be serve as practice for anyone interested in improving their Spanish. They also serve as bona fide muestras, or samples, of the Uruguayan accent.
Because I work with my mentor in the university – UTEC, the new state-funded institution that I talk about here – I've had the support, both moral and technological, to complete Luces del interior, that photojournalistic project I was talking about. We're exhibiting it at the university today, Friday, May 24th 2019, as part of a fair. You can see the poster here:
No quepo en mí, or "I can't fit inside myself," because I'm just so excited; I've worked with a student at the university to create a Chat Bot, which attendees will activate through WhatsApp (aka your best friend when you travel internationally) to get the link to the website I built.
The idea is that attendees gravitate towards one of photos and then access that person's online profile for more photos and interview clips – you know, kind of like in a museum, walking around with headphones as a distant and snotty voice explains what the hell you have in front of you? Yeah, that – except not the distant and snotty voice. No – instead, the voices of 12 women with different goals, stories, humors and failures. Mannerisms and snorts. Complaints about their teeth. Real women from a country most don’t know much about.
I've also created a video promo, with palabras destacadas, or highlighted words. (More with the #LucesdelInterior hashtag on Instagram.)
I feel lucky to have been placed at UTEC Fray Bentos, laughing between the layers of little efforts that slowly got me here, writing this article on Slide Night. It went like this:
Me: *Writing Fulbright grant application* Maybe a photography thing?
Fulbright commission: We accept her! And, well, maybe if she's creative (bc of this whole photography propuesta lol), she'll do well at UTEC?
UTEC people: Well there's this project idea about the women of Fray Bentos, but it was never realized. Maybe you want to create it?
Me: *Mustering up the courage to find interviewees* I hope this works out?
Al fin y al cabo, estoy interesada en las historias de las mujeres del interior del Uruguay por ser historias de un grupo menos conocido, de una parte menos conocida de un país que, por donde vivo en los Estados Unidos, no se conoce mucho.
Translation: I do this project to share the stories of the women from the interior of Uruguay. That is, stories from the lesser-known group of the lesser-known part of a country that, from my perspective as a New Yorker, is really not known at all.
Enjoy, and thanks for following.
Sarah Simon is a regular Slide Night contributor and currently based in Uruguay on a Fulbright scholarship. See more of her writing here.