Nancy Minyanou’s interest in Argentina was sparked in high school, and now this summer the rising junior at the University of Pennsylvania is fulfilling a vision for breaking down barriers and expanding her knowledge about the country in the Penn Summer Abroad program in Buenos Aires.
Growing up in Westchester, N.Y., Minyanou became fascinated with Argentina after learning about the country in a Latin American history class. At Penn, her interest intensified in Spanish language classes, leading her to the Penn in Buenos Aires program.
The University’s intensive six-week study abroad program in the Argentine capital gives students a chance to strengthen Spanish skills by attending classes in which only Spanish is spoken. Minyanou, a cognitive science major in the School of Arts & Sciences, is taking an Argentine literature class and an Argentine history class this summer at the Universidad Torcuato DiTella.
When they’re not in class, Minyanou and her fellow students visit historical sights in the city and in nearby towns and get a taste of the region’s food and culture.
“At this point it has been easiest to explore through finding popular restaurants as a starting point, and then walking around the area,” says Minyanou.
One of her new favorite foods is barbecued sausage.
The program’s 16 students visited a ranch about an hour-and-a-half away from Buenos Aires to learn more about the life of cowboys, known as gauchos. Minyanou had a chance to ride horses and see a gaucho perform a dance on his horse.
Her experience in Argentina fits in with her plans to become a physician in the future.
“My goals are all intimately based on the fact I wish to be of service to lower income populations of black and Latino communities in New York,” says Minyanou.
Her opportunity to travel abroad and to expand her cross-cultural views fulfills the Penn Compact 2020 goal of engaging globally.
Minyanou ultimately wants to use her language skills to help Spanish-speaking patients navigate the health-care system.
“Having seen the difficulties that a language barrier can bring when trying to access health care while growing up with immigrant West African parents, I personally took it upon myself to learn Spanish,” says Minyanou. “Considering Spanish is so necessary, there wasn't a second thought in pursuing it. The hope is that in the future, as a physician, I will be able to have one less barrier with patients that are not proficient in English.”