A Whole New World
|Me with Chilean High School Students
I had always dreamed of leaving my small hometown of Slater, MO to see and learn about new parts of the world but I always thought it to be impossible. My family didn’t have the money to send me to school, there was no way. Things changed however, when in the fall of 2007 during my senior year of high school I received my acceptance letter to DePauw University. Now, I am a junior at DePauw University studying abroad in Santiago, Chile. I knew I wanted to study abroad when I arrived at DePauw, but I had no idea where I would end up or how I would pay for it. However, with the support of generous DePauw alumni, family and friends I have had the privilege to travel and study for two weeks in Spain and Portugal through one of DePauw’s off-campus study winter-term courses and now; here I am in Chile, a country very popular this year for many reasons. At the end of February of this year, central Chile was rocked by one of the most powerful earthquakes in the world’s recent history. This happened the weekend after I sent in my application to study abroad in Chile’s capital city. After the earthquake, I followed closely the developments of the earthquake, the number of deaths, etc. Following the earthquake Chile’s new president was sworn in just minutes after a strong aftershock rocked the country yet again at the beginning of March. I remember watching all of this on my TV in the “Reagan Ranch” of the Delta Chi House on campus.
In the end, everything worked out and even though Chile went through and continues to deal with post-earthquake issues my program was not canceled and now here I am. Last month, on September 18th, I was here to experience Chile’s Bicentennial celebrations. It was amazing to be a part of such a historic moment for this country. I went to BBQ’s with my host family, ate, drank, danced and took part in Chile’s Bicentennial. I went to the city center of Chile’s capital city of Santiago to see a magnificent light show with fireworks where millions of people came to celebrate the 200th birthday of their country. I have immersed myself in the culture of Chile, not only with my host family and by just being here and living the daily life in the city but also by volunteering to be an English language teaching assistant through a program coordinated by the Chilean Ministry of Education and the United Nations Development Program called English Opens Doors. I assist with English classes in a local high school for girls (where I am famous) where I work with students in small groups, help with pronunciation and listening skills and most importantly building confidence in the students at my host school so they will want to practice their English. You can learn more about my volunteer program by checking out this video. So far, it has proven to be a great learning experience. I’ve learned a lot about the Chilean public school system and a lot about Chile’s culture just by listening to the students at the school.
Recently, everyone has heard about the 33 Chilean miners that were rescued from a mine in northern Chile after they had been trapped underground for over two months. The mine collapse that caused this whole crisis happened just weeks after I arrived in Chile. Ever since then, it has been a popular story here and recently all over the world. When news came out that the 33 miners were alive the whole country and people around the world were united in joy. I remember traveling to Santiago’s city center to see the celebrations where people danced and sang in the street after hearing the miners were alive. Now over two months later, with the whole world watching and Chile in the lime light all 33 miners have been rescued and have been reunited with their families. When the last miner was pulled out of the “Phoenix” capsule, sirens went off all over Chile, here in the city people started driving around honking their horns, singing, dancing and flocking to the city center to celebrate together. It was such a great experience to be here to witness a country unite for these 33 men that were trapped underground for over two months. I couldn’t have imagined that I would have any of these experiences back in high school or even my first year at DePauw. By the great support and advice of DePauw alumni, friends, and family I have been able travel to foreign lands, truly improve my Spanish speaking skills and most of all, have had time and experiences to reflect on what I want to do with my life. I look forward to the rest of my study abroad experience in Chile and my last year and a half at DePauw upon my return to the states. Who knows what will be next!
The text of this post was taken from a guest post I did for