Dear Members of Sister Cities and Challenge Aspen,
Thank you would be the single word I would use to describe the 2023 Bariloche-Aspen adaptive skiing exchange. Every situation, with every person we had the pleasure of interacting with, in every context, would have the word repeated over and over, and the best part is that it was genuine on everyone. The exchange was filled with memorable moments, memorable people that made a lasting impression on Mariana, Joaquin and myself. We hope that we ourselves have left a good and positive print in Aspen, of Argentine culture, of Desafio’s working ethics, and of our own personal flame.
We bring back new friends, stronger bonds with our old friends, new techniques, adaptive equipment kindly donated by Challenge Aspen that will be put to use immediately, and best of all the certainty that Desafio Bariloche is on the right track and competing with the best in terms of teaching techniques and professionalism. The flame we have inside for community outreach for those who most need it, has been empowered by this exchange, and we are thankful for having the possibility to do this community work through institutions like ours that to their core, work in creating a space of wellness for every member of the community that gets involved, not only for those with disability, therefore broadening the scope of reach beyond what I ever dreamed when I first got involved in Desafio.
During our exchange we participated in multiple adaptive classes with participants with disabilities from the autistic spectrum to physically disabled, we also had de chance of practicing with some of the adaptive equipment like mono ski’s and ski bykes, and even take part of a small part of the PSIA Level I adaptive training with Charley Phelan. We also had meetings with members of the Challenge Aspen Board, Sister Citiy members, members of Rotary International and numerous gatherings with different members of the community. Although the agenda was full of long days, sometimes with not enough hours in the day, we wouldn’t have it any other way and we took advantage of every minute to learn, share and plan for the future.
We felt very much at home during our time in Aspen, everyone was very friendly, always looking out that we were doing well. The accommodation was out of this world, and the location perfect. The time on the bus to and from Snowmass, and the time at the apartment together gave us time as committee members and operational members of Desafio to talk and plan, things we can rarely do with such ease and free time in our daily routine as volunteers, entrepreneurs, and parents. Those 3 weeks feel like a dream now that we are back, one that we hope we can live again, or in the meantime, help create an exciting dream for next exchange in Bariloche.
Challenge Aspen and Sister Cities have been a part of our program for more years than I have been around, and part of the successes we have had are due to this exchange and the things learned and shared. We hope to keep this alive to make both our communities stronger. I keep thinking of Challenge’s slogan, ‘’making possibilities for people with disabilities’’, you should add: ‘’also in Argentina’’.
Again thanks is all that comes to mind, not only to everyone in Challenge Aspen, Sister Cities, Rotary and Desafio for making this possible; but also to life, the universe, or god, for having given us the chance to cross paths.
Paul Wray- Joaquin Garcia Jurjo- Mariana Neira