Argentine student winner of Falklands’ competition travels to the Islands with an open mind
Since a child I have been passionate about the Malvinas dispute between Argentina and the UK, which was reinforced by the stories from my uncle who was a member of the Argentine crew sent to South Georgia to scrap the remains of the rusting whaling station, reveals Braian Espinoza Salazar, an Argentine International Relations student at the Mendoza University.
Braian, 23, was chosen as the university student from Argentina, together with representatives from Chile, Brazil and Uruguay, a group of four, who this coming summer will be traveling to the Falkland Islands for one week, living with a local family and experiencing life in the ‘Malvinas’.
When my uncle went to South Georgia he was more or less my age and I was marveled by his experience, it was like going to the movies, and ever since I have felt attracted by the dispute, added the Argentine student who said that besides expectations for the trip, I will travel with the upmost respect for such a cause, Malvinas, that means so much for our country and our people.
Braian participated in the Regional Falklands’ Student Competition sponsored by the Falklands government and the UK embassies in the four countries, with the question, Why would I like to meet my neighbors in the Falkland Islands?, demanding a one minute video explaining the reasons, and later defending the arguments..
This is a unique experience for my life, as a student of International Relations and Argentine, I’m immensely proud and grateful to the UK embassy for the opportunity to visit the Islands and learn about their people and our rights, confessed Braian to a local newspaper in San Juan.
The annual competition apparently this year attracted some two hundred students and Braian finally made it to the short list of ten hopefuls. It will be an honor to represent Argentina, and listen to the other side of the dispute. I’m convinced it will be a most enriching and positive experience.
I’m going with an open mind and most willing to dialogue, to listen to the other point of view, because I believe, as an international relations student it is my duty to build bridges and not walls.
The idea of the competition is to promote the cultural exchange between the Falklands and the region, and spread knowledge about the Falklands and their people.
As can be expected when the UK embassy in Buenos Aires made the open invitation for all university students who wished to participate, the Argentine foreign ministry reacted immediately with a reiterated release, Clearly it’s an activity with the sole purpose to reflect the British occupation of the Malvinas Islands, an illegal situation which Argentina has been protesting insistently and indeclinably since 1833