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Alejandra
“It was not until I came to live in the Netherlands that I discovered a talent that I did not know I had”

I was born in Buenos Aires, the capital of Argentina, the country of tango, mate and people who are a mixture of those European immigrants who at the beginning of the 20th century came looking for a better future. I am what we say "porteña", since Buenos Aires is also a port.
 
As my parents are divorced, I grew up with my mother in a quiet typically middle class neighborhood. The tranquility and security I remember was similar to what I experience here in the city of Almere in The Netherlands. Unfortunately, in present-day in Argentina this is no longer the case.
 
As a child and teenager I was very shy. I liked reading a lot. I had friends with whom I met up at home to dance or talk. I cherish some very nice memories of that time in my life.
 
Just before I started college, when I was 17, my mother died, which was something that marked my life a lot. Immediately after her death, I started studying law at the University of Buenos Aires. The time at university comforted me since I always enjoyed studying. 
 
I graduated as a lawyer in 1994 (the year my father also passed away) and started to practice law always in a dependent relationship in law firms. I was never satisfied with the work I was doing and I think I chose that career because my mother had practically forced me to. 
 
I met my current husband in 1995 during a skiing holiday in Patagonia in the south of Argentina, where the landscape is like the Swiss Alps. We got married in 2000.
 
With a history of military coups, dictatorships, aggravating the country's economy every day, Argentina was in decline. In December 2001, a major economic crisis broke out and the country went bankrupt. For this reason we decided to leave Argentina in search of a better future for our son, who was already on his way.
 
Spain and Italy were not an option for us because of the limited job possibilities. So we decided to try our luck in the Netherlands, we became curious about that country because of an Argentinean woman called Máxima Zorreguieta who got engaged to a Dutch prince. We inquired at the Dutch Consulate in Buenos Aires about the country and what job opportunities there were. As my husband had dual citizenship (Italian and Argentinian) it was easier for us to decide to emigrate to Europe. 

We arrived in July 2002 in Amsterdam and thanks to some Argentinian friends, we managed to get an apartment. My husband, who speaks French, English and Spanish, immediately got a job in a call center. What surprised me most when arriving in the country were those beautiful canals and the fact that the houses had windows without bars, which is very normal in Buenos Aires to avoid robberies. Once in the Netherlands I focussed on taking care of my son, getting integrated into Dutch society and learning the Dutch language (Inburgeringscursus). I didn't have time to miss Argentina. 
 
In February 2005 we moved to Almere Buiten. Living in this city was a huge change compared to Amsterdam. For less money we could rent a fairly new house with a garden. At first I didn't like the city and it seemed boring; now I think the opposite. In 2007 we bought our own house in the neighbourhood called Regenboogbuurt (Rainbow district), with many green areas and, as the name suggests, with its colored houses.
 
Since the moment I arrived in this country, I noticed that people were really interested in learning the Spanish language. I had always been good at languages so I started giving private Spanish lessons at home, and I found my true vocation! In 2006 I completed an online course of Spanish language teaching for adults. The following year I started to work at the Volksuniversiteit where I have been working for more than 13 years. Since 2017 I also work for another private institute giving classes to adults. I also continue with private classes at my home, both for adults and for children and/or teenagers.
 
It was not until I came to live in the Netherlands that I discovered a talent that I did not know I had. Thanks to this, I am able to stay true to my roots, spreading and promoting this wonderful language through its culture and traditions. And I can humbly say that I feel like a bridge between the Dutch and everything concerning the Spanish and Latin American culture. My heart is half light blue and white, colors that represent the Argentines and half orange, which represents the Dutch.
 

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Authors

Photos, Interview and Text: Lyla Carrillo Quan - van der Kaaden
Text Revision: Babette Rondón
Fotostudio website: www.101studio.nl