This trip to Argentina actually began almost 150 years ago, when some of the first graduates from Winona Normal School traveled to Argentina at the request of President Domingo Faustino Sarmiento. They went to help renovate the nation’s school system and served as directors and teachers. A total of 65 American teachers went to Argentina between 1869 and 1898, and almost half were graduates of Winona Normal School.
To commemorate the bicentennial of the birth of President Sarmiento, Winona State University was invited by the government to return to the city of his birth: San Juan, Argentina. As an advisor to the trip, I wanted to invite students that would best represent our university and the legacy of our graduates. Thanks to the support of the WSU Foundation and the Deans of the schools of Liberal Arts, Education, Science and Engineering, Nursing, and the Rochester campus we were able to offer a travel scholarship for ten students.
The students that you will meet here applied for the honor to represent their university abroad and were chosen because of their academic, teaching, and service accomplishments as well as their goals for furthering the connection between Winona and Argentina. During our 12-day trip we will be serving an elementary/ middle school in San Juan named after one of our graduates: Mary O. Graham. As the students share their thoughts and experiences on the trip, I will provide historical information about the first group of Winona teachers and their experiences with Argentine culture. Both groups are exemplary representatives of Winona State scholarship and dedication to improving our world, and I hope you enjoy getting to know them all in the coming weeks.
-Vanessa Fernandez Greene