The newspaper of San Telmo is a small bimonthly publication with the aim of exploring and bringing together the people that live there.

As one of the most noticeable neighborhoods in the city in terms of culture, history and tourism, San Telmo and its surrounding barrios all part of the Old Quarter and a rich source of human and social resources.

We have interviewed the newspaper director and editor, Catherine, to share you her perspective of collaborating with volunteers through Volunteer Work Latin America:

What are the goals of the organization?
Currently the area is experiencing the positive and negative effects of rapid gentrification. Using a framework of community development and social journalism, the newspaper provides a forum where diverse groups of residents learn about current affairs, meet and educate each other and foment more awareness about conserving the identity of San Telmo for the future. Every edition is centered on a different theme, e.g. how we should take care of ourselves, our neighbors and the whole community.  

Volunteer at a newspaper in Buenos Aires oldest barrio!

What is the benefit of working with volunteers?
The spirit of volunteering is of immense importance to our project, since almost all of the content and production work is done on a voluntary basis. The paper would simply not exist if it wasn’t for this commitment going beyond any economic benefits. The support of foreigners to this volunteer project in Buenos Aires shows that not only the nearby neighbors are loyal contributors, but also non-locals. Moreover, foreign volunteers often fulfill a role model for locals to also become actively involved in their own community. 

Could you give us some examples of the tasks assigned to volunteers?
Before the volunteers start to work they have a personal meeting with me to figure out their interests and to combine their ideas with the program of the newspaper. Their level of Spanish determines how effectively they are able to interact with the Argentinean community, and also get a deeper understanding of the context of certain issues that touches their society.

  • Finding free cultural activities in San Telmo (contacting and visiting cultural centers and other venues).
  • Researching and writing a short note on the history of prominent buildings.
  • Setting-up a directory of San Telmo, including health food shops, gyms, charities, etc.
  • Interviewing locals regarding their views about the current theme of the publication.
  • Photography of buildings and people to complement the interviews.
  • Giving advice on how to create a Facebook page as part of an initiative to make the website more interactive.
  • Administrative and logistic tasks including the distribution of newspapers.

Volunteer at a newspaper in Buenos Aires oldest barrio!

Briefly, what is your overall experience with volunteers?
Very positive! Most volunteers are young, full of energy and curiosity. Sometimes they get so hooked on an article or initiative that they leave a nice example of becoming a San Telmo insider while coming from far away. However, in some cases I feel that our independent way of working does not provide enough structure for certain individuals.

And, what are the benefits of the donations given by the volunteers?
The volunteer donations are used at the operational level. It allows us to cover expenses not covered by our core budget (essentially set aside for printing the paper), such as purchasing research materials, logistic costs for events, paperwork, etc.

To a potentially indecisive volunteer, what would you say about the social implications of volunteering?
The experience in pursuit of self-actualization with a strong social commitment is different than working for money. In the ideal of situations, those two come together, but when you have a chance to work towards a vision that truly inspires you, it just gives another taste and level of satisfaction. It is all about being active at the human-level, and for those especially appreciating that, the experience is priceless.

Volunteer at a newspaper in Buenos Aires oldest barrio!

This is a great project for anyone interested in journalism and wishes to get to know the culture and people of one of the most famous neighborhoods in Buenos Aires. It is a very different placement from some of the other volunteer projects, in that there is no real office and there aren’t set hours you work each day. It is a lot more self-directed, but like anything, you get from it what you put in!

For more info read this volunteer testimonial on our blog. You can contact VLA for all your questions regarding this project CT-09.

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