Hugo me dijo que Chile dijera, “Por favor Lisa, no se vaya”.

This is the story of how Camila and I were able to circumnavigate a potential international fumble, within an 6 hr. Chilean business day.  The story title comes from my good friend Hugo, a Santiago taxi cab driver I met about 2 months ago in Santiago.  Hugo is also  a Christian and was on “Team Lisa” along with Camila during my last day in Chile.  He acted as our own personal private chauffer, getting us everywhere we needed to go that day.

1. Camila & Lisa

Camila and I are posed here before our incredible adventures in Santiago on Wednesday.  She is the very first friend that I made when arriving in Santiago, Chile at the Comodoro Arturo Merino Benítez International Airport and has now become an eternal extended-family member to me in Chile.

The following story is going to be the most amazing tale of how a minor error on my part, of  not knowing a 30-day local residential registration requirement, could have gone horribly wrong for me as an international student studying abroad.  But, thank God for his grace and favor along with raising a daughter who has became a lawyer and the smartest person that I have ever known.  Bridjette’s quick thinking and sharp legal mind keep her mother calm and focused during what could have been a legal mess of bureaucracy in Chile.  Thanks to these two beautiful women (and a bunch of other folks who stepped in to sort out my troubles) I am back in Athens, Georgia enjoying my favorite food at Eastside Hibachi buffet today!  🙂

More pictures and an updated story to come soon.  Please stay tuned!

 Saturday, December 7, 2013

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It’s Saturday the 15th of December and I’m finally getting around to writing this blog post of high adventure.  So it begins on Saturday, December 7th when I wake-up excited about my upcoming bus ride to Santiago.  This was the date of my return flight back to the US and marked the end of my first international travel and Visiting Scholar experiences.  All my arrangements where ready and ticket and my year-long student Visa was safe and secure in my travel bag.

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I was excited about my awesome seat on the brand new double decker TurBus to Santiago.  Until, a family arrived to politely inform me I was sitting in the wrong set.  Oh well, I still had an awesome window seat that was clean and comfy for the 3 hour ride.

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Above is the Welcome sign that you see as you enter Talca and I thought it a good opportunity to take a picture of this symbolic representation of the grapes that produce one of Chile’s most prized exports, its Vinos (wines).  Little did I know of the irony of the Welcome to Talca sign until later that evening at the airport in Santiago.

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It was so cool seeing an American movie with Spanish language and subtitles.  I was happy to see how much my Spanish had improved over these 4 months as I could easily follow along listening and reading the subtitles.  All is right with the world as I headed toward Santiago. 🙂

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When I arrived to the airport, the Delta Airline agent asked for my passport and Chilean identification.  I looked at him puzzled and indicated to him that I was an American graduate student and didn’t have an Chilean identification.  My Visa was for a year and I would be returning in February 2014.  He proceeded to tell me that due to the fact that I had a year long (versus tourist) Visa, I needed to register with my local comuna in order to get a Chilean identification.  This was my first time every hearing this news and I began to get anxious because the expression on his face seemed worried.  He proceeded to check my bag and gave me my boarding pass so I assumed everything was fine.  Above is the pic I took of my Delta flight to Atlanta schedule to leave that night.  As I weaved through the line with other passengers at the international flight gates I was next in line to go to the International police caja, where all of your documents are review.  I handed my documents to the officer and he too asked where was my Chilean Identification.  He spoke no English so that only compounded our poor communication because I kept asking if he was talking about my having obtained a RUT number to which he suggested “sorta” and again repeated what the Delta agent said that I should have been told to obtain this ID in Talca, during my first 30 days in Chile.  He next asked me to step out of line and follow him down a hallway…

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I was taken into a room which I later learned was the offices of the International Airport Police.  As we were walking towards the office I began to panic because I had no idea why I was taken out of line and concerned I would somehow miss my flight needed to get this taken care of.  I called my Chilean hosts and had them speak to the officers as we walked since their Spanish was better than mine and they certainly would know better why I needed this ID.  Unfortunately, they too were thinking it was a RUT number and encouraged me to relax and that everything would be fine.  I must say, the officers were very nice and as I calmed myself was able to get a better idea of what was going on.  I was being given a citation or and would have to appear in the office of the office of the Ministerio del Interior y Seguridad Púlica on WEDNESDAY MORNING BETWEEN 09:00 y 14:00.  I took a deep breath and held back the tears as the officer tried to encourage me that everything should be fine.  He gave me specific instructions to help expedite my process but my master’s degree is in Public Administration and never is dealing with a government bureaucracy an simple and easy process.

I return to the Delta Airlines desk and ask that they retrieve my bag and reschedule my flight.  The first attendant told me that there was a $300.00 USD change fee penalty and gave me the name of some guy named Carlos that I could call tomorrow to try and get the fee waived.  I could no longer hold back the tears and headed to a Chilean “sistah” to ask for help on the matter.  Or maybe she was Columbian but she looked like me and directed me to another Delta airline supervisor named Lukas.  I explained my situation to him and he kindly dismissed my change fee but seemed a little hesitant to reschedule me for that following Wednesday evening (as he likely knew what I would be facing that day).  Nevertheless, I felt the Lord leading me to secure the ticket and I scheduled my flight for Wednesday by faith believing God would grant me favor in resolving the matter.

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After talking to my Chilean host I immediately called my daughter (the Attorney) and she was not happy.  Nevertheless, she when into lawyer mode and told me first things first, get your bag, your plane ticket rescheduled, and return to Talca so we can Skype.  I was an emotional mess but she helped me get it together.  When I got back to Talca about 2am I checked in with my daughter and we arranged to talk in the morning.  If you have been following my blog you know that my laptop died 2 weeks ago and I had been using a loaner laptop from my office which I returned to them when I departed on Friday.  Carmen (my hostess) allowed me to use her laptop to Skype with my daughter.  As I read the ticket it seemed more serious than a slap on the wrist.  I type out the citación in Spanish for my daughter and she when to work researching the issue.  She called me back and told me ¨Mom, I don´t want you to get upset but this is serious.¨  She then directed me to find a native speaker who could go with me to my appointment on Wednesday as she felt I would need the support of a native speaker and getting an attorney would delay my return even further.  That´s when I contacted my Chilean daughter Camila.  She immediately agreed to go with me and coordinated communications with my daughter as my attorney and interpreter developed the strategy of Mission get Mom on the Plane Wednesday.

I return to campus early Monday, morning in an effort to connect with Jeanette Fuentes who coordinates International Student Affairs for our campus at Universidad Católica del Maule.  Again, God showed up right when I needed assistance as she was walking down the corridor to her office right as I was leaving mine to head her way.  I had assumed she read my email the night before but, she had not had the chance to do so.  We immediately contacted my Office of International Education back at the University of Georgia and they were not aware of the Nº 597, DE 14.06.84 (ART .165) law either.  Jeanette contacted the Talca International Affairs office and Officer Mauricio Urbina explained everything to all of us.  There is a law for anyone in Chile for more than 6 months to register with the local comuna within 30 days of arrival to the country.  Failure to do so can lead to your deportation.  He felt that I should be able to resolve the matter in Santiago but would likely have to pay a fine of anywhere between 30,000  to 50,000 pesos or ($60 to $100 USD), but I would not have a negative mark on my Visa.  I was relieved about that news.  Everyone was happy to learn that I would have a native Chilean interpreter with me during my appointments so I set out on Tuesday afternoon and secured a hotel stay in Santiago so I could be in the Minister´s office bright and early.

Tuesday, December 1o, 2013

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So I say all of my goodbyes to my friends in Talca, everyone from my housemates to officemates gave me 100% support and encouragement, and headed back to Santiago.

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Our bus made a brief stop to pick up passengers from a small town on the way to Santiago and a farmers and vendors would board the buses selling things to eat.  I got this bag of the best cherries for $2 bucks.  So I´m feeling positive and enjoyed my 3 hour return to Santiago.

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I decided to make the best of my day in Santiago and toured the city.  I sensed the Spirit of the Lord telling me to look up and I saw this sign outside of a store shop (below ) were a letter had fallen off and it looked almost like my name ¨Lisa¨ and the word ora in Spanish means he/she prays.  So, Lisa prays… now, only the Holy Spirit would draw a person´s attention to something like this. Any believers reading this post know what I am talking about.  God will use people, places, and things to let you know he is with you and loves you as he did for me during this experience.  I am a living witness to God´s favor  in my life on a regular basis.

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As you will note the beautiful title picture of my blog is of the Plaza de Armas in Chile, but prior to this trip, I did not have a chance to visit this area when I was in Santiago the previous month of September.  So, I decided to walk to find it and take my one pictures.  I have to mention, Chilean men are just the cutest.  Some guy came up to me riding a bike and asked, ¨¿Adónde vas mi amor?¨  I just giggled and said ¨A comer.¨  To which he replied, ¨Me acompaña¨, to which I replayed smiling ¨No gracias, estoy bien.¨  Additionally encounters with Chilean men have lead to the following comments or titles: “Mi Reina!”, “Hola Morena Rrrrrrrica!”, and a Chilean accented “Oh My God!” Ha ha. 🙂

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So here are my pictures from the Plaza de Armas and there happened to be some street performers there that afternoon.  I had no ideal what the guy doing tricks with money was exactly performing but, everyone seemed to be enjoying it.  I stopped to ask a nearby couple in Spanish was that location the Plaza de Armas and what was happening.  He politely turned to me and said “No comprendo español¨.  I giggled and replied, ¨Oh, you speak English, where are you from?¨  He politely replied Australia and I told him I was North American and continued on my journey.  So funny!!

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The above is a lovely nighttime view of downtown Santiago form my apartemento balcony.

Wednesday, December 11, 2012

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I´m up bright and early 6:30 am Wednesday morning dressed to impress and awaited Hugo (my cabby) and Camila’s arrival to start our mission.  Both arrive on time and we are off to the races.

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Hugo of Team Rescue Lisa

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Camila of Team Rescue Lisa

The above picture is from my first arrival to Santiago at the bus terminal where I met Camila and she helped me purchase a ticket in order to get to Talca.  I was clueless and very insecure about my Spanish abilities at that time.  She is now seems like family to me and I had to include this photo with this story because I ended up both beginning and ending my first time out of my country to Chile, with my dear friend and now Chilean daughter Camila. 🙂

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The above two Google maps represents our game plan in getting from all our stops in downtown Santiago (that includes getting my passport and paying the fine) to the final arrival goal of the international airport to catch my flight home Wednesday night.

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We are at the office 30 minutes before it opened and hundreds of people were already there standing in line.  We walked in, took a number and a man came to use and ushered us to the front of a line where only 2 other people were ahead of us.  We got to the cashier’s window all excited thinking this is going to be a piece of cake!!  We pay the fine pick up my passport and we are DONE BABY!!  We get to the attendant (sidebar:  No one beside Camila could speak English during my many stops that day so not having her with me per Bridjette’s directives would have been a disaster) and he tells us that my infraction was not entered into the system and there was no way for me to pay the fine.  When asked when my information would be there he said in up to 15 days, a week if I was lucky.

My heart sunk to my feet as he had little more to offer us in terms of next steps because based upon his computer records, I didn’t exist!  We returned to my hotel to regroup, drink coffee, and start making phone calls.  Below is a short summary of all the places we had to go within a 6 hour period and we made it with only 10 minutes to spear before the offices closed.  God gave us so much favor because we would enter rooms with hundreds of people waiting and either a commissioner or high level official would usher us to the front of every line:

1. Office of the Minister

2. Hotel

3. Office of International Police (Officer “Guapo” was too cute!)

4. Office of the Ministry (Deputy Soledad)

5. Office of International Police (Office “Guapo” and Under Commissioner “Guapo II” he was even cuter! lol)

5a. Obtain Chilean Identification and Passport $600 pesos

6. Office of the Ministry (Deputy Soledad and Director Faviola)

7. Office of the Ministry (Accountant Cajero Antonio)

8. Photocopy Center

9. Wrong Bank

10. Correct Bank (Banco Estado)

11. Office of the Ministry (Accountant Cajero Antonio – Paid the fine a little over $36,000 pesos)

12. Ruby Tuesday to Celebrate

13. Back to the Hotel to wait for Hugo

14. Catch the bus terminal shuttle to the airport

15. Board Delta Flight 146 to the ATL, Georgia Airport (9.5 hour flight)

16.  Tempted to kiss the ground outside when I get to my Groome shuttle to Athens.

Everyone was so helpful and sympathetic to my issue.  They all knew I had a 10:10pm flight schedule to the US and worked diligently to resolve all of my problems.  That is why I love Chile and will be coming back for more next semester 2014.

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Chau chau!! Only for the time being to my adopted second country of Chile. 🙂

Thursday, December 12, 2013

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Hello home country USA,  I missed yah!  I thought this was an awesome view of the 3 Americas (i.e., North, Central, and South) from the planes inflight travel map.  Check out the image of my little airplane right in the middle of all three countries.  Now that’s simply  poetically maravilloso!!

Friday, December 13, 2013

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Here’s my I’m so happy to be back at my condo pic only to find out upon my arrival that the neighbor’s place above me leaked water on my walls causing mold in two rooms, and that my car didn’t start (it’s in the shop until Monday).  But you know what?  I feel very blessed and highly favored.  I wouldn’t have changed a thing.  Oh wait, yes I would… I most certainly would have registered in the International Affairs Office in Talca had I known to do so.  Won’t make that mistake again!!

Well, I hope you’ve enjoyed The Chilean Chronicles this semester and I’ll Blog to you later. Yuk yuk!

Be Blessed! 🙂

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Teacher María José´s invitation to Panimávida changed me

Teacher María José´s invitation to Panimávida changed me

This was far and away my best experience to date in Chile and an excellent story to come after I get some rest. La Escuela Básica de Panimávida´s first ever English language show.

My Beautiful Crin Art Gift

Crin Horse Hair Art

These were given to me as a gift following my day long visit in Panimávida, Chile.  Rari (in mapudungun, a type of bush or shrub) is a village in the Chilean municipality (comuna) of Colbún, Linares Province, Maule Region located in the Andean foothills of this province.

Rari is close to the well-known hot springs of Panimávida and Quinamávida and lies 20 km to the northeast of Linares, the provincial capital. Unique handmade arts and crafts are among the important activities in the area. These crafts are made of “crin” (horse hair) by a group of skilled artisans – overwhelmingly female – specialized in this trade. Some of them have been working on it for more than seventy years.

Together, Rari and the surrounding villages (Paso Rari, San Francisco de Rari), have a population of about 1,300. The geographic coordinates of the place are: latitude: 35° 46′ 0S, longitude: 71° 25′ 0W, altitude: 246 mt.

Information retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rari

El Principio

Today started for me at 5:30 am (muy raro) as I usually don´t go to bed until well after 1am most nights making getting up Wednesday morning quite the challenge.  We started the morning all dolled up but, ended pretty much make-up free and tired when I returned back to Talca…

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Continued blogging 5/12/2013

As I mentioned yesterday, I arose very early in the morning to travel by bus the 1.5 hours neccessary to reach Pavimávida.  Its a very small rural village within the Linears Regional Provience of Maule.  I currently live in the Talca, Maule area of Chile and Linears is a little more of a metropolitan area, similarly to Talca.  The ride required a first bus from Talca to Linare (where secondary school teacher María José met me) and then our subsequently connecting to a shorter bus ride that would take us into the countryside and village of Pavimávida.

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During the ride I started to make note of the view of the Andes mountains and remain facinated by the ideal that these are the longest range of mountains in the world spanning the full length of Chile.  Here´s a BBC documentary link that talks more about the mountain range which spans the entire length of this beautiful country  [youtube=http://youtu.be/nXByvZUeueQ] for over 3,000 miles.

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One of the first things that struck me when arriving into Chile was the high level of litter I saw in Santiago and parts of Talca.  However, I think this social practice is slowly starting to change as Chile continues on its road to economic development with aims of attracting new business and opportunity to the country.  In the picture above, as my bus passes San Javier, the overpass bridge specifically makes mention that they are a clean (limpia) municipality.

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Another view of the Andes mountains in the background lining some the beautiful countryside photos below:

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I am beginning to notice more an more businesses that I see regularly in the United States appear in small towns in Chile.  The sunvisor used by the bus driver had an Daewoo logo and words written Japanese print.

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I also saw an old homegrown Akron, Ohio business (though the economic boon of our town as the ¨Rubber City¨ has long past) in the form of the Firestone company sign as we entered the small city of Linares.

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Similar to Talca and other southcentral Chilean areas, the damage effects of the 2010 Terremoto (earthquake) can still be seen in both towns which registered as one of the strongest on record.  Many buildings in Linares as in Talca remain damaged and/or hollowed out awaiting repair or some investor coming into the town to redevelop the site.

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Althought the earthquake of 2010 was very desvastaging, many people have shared with me that it served as a spring board that fueled Chile´s economic boon as jobs become plentiful and led to employment for many people.  Evidence of prosperity are all around Talca, as an example, our neighbor´s home expansion project left me with many an early Saturday morning wake-ups as his builders could be heard directly near my window with hammers and drills making continued sleep untenable.  Additionally, new sales of cars, bikes, and appliances are all over the stores and malls in Talca.  And similar to Talca, the provience of Linares (below) has also witnessed forward changes in their economy and infrastructure.

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But, unfortunately with these types of Spiral Dynamic meme shifts you often see an increase in the more undesirable aspects of community development as well.  Below is a picture of one of the oldest high schools in Linares area and also the site of the first gun related fatality in a recent incident between youths at the school.  I also noted that several of the windows appeared to have been vandalized and broken.  This is still a fully operational school and to see broken windows (with no clear attempts at repair) on a school building again, reminded me of how much abundance we have in the US.  That is not to say that some schools in the United States don´t suffer the same challenges as it relates to maintainance but, at the very least an attempt to board up the window or duct tape it with plastic would have served as a temporary means to avoid additional injury.

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Below is the bus station in Linares where Teacher María José met me to travel the rest of the way to Panimávida.  She was originally born in Santiago and attends UCMaule (where we met) as a graduate student in the School of Education.  She was raised by her Grandmother in Linares and when her Abuela took ill and subsequently passed away, she moved to the area to help coordinate their family affairs and maintain the family home she had grown up in with her Grandmother.   María José shared wonderful stories with me about her grandmother who she clearly loved very much and I could tell the same fisty spirit and love for people she articulated about her grandmother also lives in her.  Therefore, I was honored that she invited me to visit here public school in Panimávida to meet her colleagues and students who she looked to motivate and encourage.

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Of course, being ever the observant researcher, I noticed an advertising in the bus station encouraging students to enroll in a newly developing private for-profit preparatory school.  The school was clearly targeting youth as it was  looking to focus on STEM areas (see below) and María José mentioned how that particular institution, and other private for-profit schools were seeking to attract many of the students who would otherwise have attended the available public schools.

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After what seemed like a very short bus ride (as we were chatting and sharing the whole time) we arrived to Panimávida.  María José´s school is named La Escuela Básica de Panimávida.  The school and small town possessed some of the most lovely countrysides and views I had ever seen since coming to know Chile.  Coming into the area reminded me of the old farms some of my family members owned growing up in Ohio where we would go to my Aunt Vera´s and ride her donkey during the family reunion on my mother´s side of the family and also see the animals and farm life on my Uncle Boot´s place on my father´s side of the family.

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In an effort to encourage school attendance among the parents and get the farm children to school, made available to them by the State are these two buses that provide transporation for the students to and from school each day.  They also have state sponsored lunch programs available on site for the students which is similar to what you would see in many low income US public schools.  The school has an enrollement of approximately 300 children ranging from pre-school to 2 levels of 7th grade.  Many of the students do not matriculate further than this school and will typically continue in a lifestyle of farming as their parents and grandparents had done.  However, I spoke to a group of children who talked to me about their big dreams and visions for their better lives though education (as does María José ).  I will remember all of them in my prayers going forward with the hope that the dreams shared with me will come to pass by all who want a different type of career or different manner of making a living.

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Here is Mará José beeming with enthusiasm and energy as we walked to see her English Lab classroom.  Inside the school was quite large and comparable to many of the elementary schools I have seen while teaching in the Columbus, Ohio City School District.  They had a number of computers and electronic equipment.  However, many of the programs necessary to facitate learning had not arrived so the full potential offered by the technology is not relized.  Nevertheless, using what they did have available everyone was excited about today´s opportunity for the first ever schoolwide English Language Show.

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Above is my program invitation and I had a moment of intercultural dissonance as the inviation reminded me that the US was not the only major English Speaking country (e.g., The United Kindom, Canada).  The children discussed and presented information and entertainment from many English speaking countries including Australia on Wednesday and I enjoyed it all.  I was also honored to be introduced to the community as their first North American visitor (so I by default also hold the title of first African American person to visit the school) and was just ¨tickled pink and green¨ (Skee Wee ha ha 🙂 ) when María José presented me to the entire community of Panimávida and they received me with a hardy round of applause.

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Pre-program preparation was taking place backstage and her team of student workers, who made the magic happen that afternoon, are picture below.

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María José made and handcute each of the beautiful letters and stars used to decorate the stage and I assisted in hanging the letters since I had a bit of a height advantage. 🙂

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The charming hostess and host of ¨Who Wants to Be a Millionnaire¨ practiced their routine in front of me and periodically asked how to say certain monetary denominations in English like 1,000.

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As you can see in the above photo, the show presentation schedule was very full and rich!

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I had the pleasure of taking a picture with the oldest children of the 7th grades A and B classes.  María José was especially proud of them as they were so committed to participating in the show which in the past she explained, it was difficult to get the older students to do things of this nature.  I could tell that everyone in the school was invested in the success of her program that day and it all came together beautifully.  I am so proud of María José and spoke over her that one day she will be the Minister of Education in Chile.  I truly believe that, she is an amazing person and teacher.

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During a break when I went to get some sun in the courtyard, a groups of  students began to  swarm around me outside asking rapid-fire questions about me, my family, my country, sports, celebrities, and life in such a ¨rich¨ country.  I also had the chance to ask about their family, lives, dreams and goals as well.  It was a life changing experience for me to see the innocence and wonder of these young people.  Someone had actually touched me gently in the back of my head as I stood talking but when I turned around no one was there.  I laughted with my daughter that evening when I recounted the event with her over Skype saying, ¨Well, I hope if there was any annointing from the Lord on me, that it transferred from me to the person that touched me, that they were made whole!¨ 🙂

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The Chilean hospitallity continued as I was invited to lunch with the teachers in the faculty lounge.  María José shared with me that a local person from the community makes lunch available for the teachers each day.  Isn´t that great?!! There were so many examples of civic engagement and community reciprocity that day.  Even the town mayor and a local news crew showed up to lend their support to her event.

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During this time I am having flashbacks to my time as a High School Science teacher at West High School in Columus, Ohio.   But, the big difference being that all of the conversations were conducted in Spanish.  Sigh… Good Times!! 🙂

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TO BE CONTINUED…

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So above Teacher María José gets all dolled up (Señorita Muñaca) and the ¨Diva force¨ was in full effect but in the most positive of ways.  She took command of the day and presented herself with class, style, and dignity.  You all are going to hear great things about this lady going forward, trust me!

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The preschoolers were absolutely adorable as they performed Humpty Dumpty in English with a little boy playing the giant egg.  It was so CUTE!!!  He kept falling down over and over again as the Kings´ on their stick-pole horses (as well as the little princesas) tried to put him back together again.  I am so upset my camera power ran out before I could record them but, María José is going to seed me the film (or link) the newscrew recorded.

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One child had serious cognitive limitations and simply could not learn the materials, so María José encouraged he and his mother to make this statue of liberty which was on display as an integral part of the stage scenery.  See how special a person she is?  God is really going to bless her efforts and I am very convienced of that!!

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All of her school colleagues and Principal joined in to make the program a success and support both teacher and students.

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In the photos both above and below all of the students present facts, poems, songs, and readings all in English with the occasional slip to Spanish when the child became nervous. 🙂

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Below are the earlier host and hostess post-rehearsal of the ¨Who Wants to Be A Millionnaire?¨ gameshow.  They were looking sharp as they provided Q&A that challenged both the teachers and audience of clearly proud and excited parents.

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By the end of the day, I was exhausted but with a full heart.  I took a momentary break to just reflect and take more beautiful pictures of the Panimávida countryside and experience.

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My bus tickets to and back home from Panimávida.

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I finally got a chance to see some rivers and lakes (there are none in walking distance to me in Talca).  María José said that the lakes are very cold but refreshing as the Chilean summers can be very very hot.

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Another faint view of the mountains (above) where you can actually see the snowcapes on top of the Andes.

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My return to Talca and a view of a portion of the Andes mountain range that oversees our city (no snow here as the altitude is much lower).

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I found this picture image on the internet and thought it so apropos to my experience and sentiments about Chile this Fall 2013 semester.  If you look closely, the little rectangle captures and outlines a small portion of the American flag that creates an image of the national flag of Chile.  And this picture is reflective of how Chile will forever be a part of me.  The field of Adult Education is best known for its theory of transformational adult learning but, as a Christian transformative learning has always been a part of my adult life for more than 30 years.  Each day I come to appreciate the scripture in Romans 12:2 that reads, ¨but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind…¨ 

That verse has been my daily practice and guiding principle as I read my bible and medidate on the Word.  Being a maturing Christian has shown me the value of being reflective of the love and character of God in all things and toward all people.  My time in Chile has made me come to appreciate even more, the blessings I have, the gifts and talents that I´ve been given, in order to employ these things within a life that is purposeful, full, and free.  This blog post was written in the wake of Nelson Mandela´s recent passing at age 95, whose life was a shining example for all of us interested in civic engagement work.  I am grateful to have lived in an era of such a great man and freedom fighter. 

I truly can say that at this moment in time I have no worldly regrets.  Thank you God for all of your favor and blessings, thank you UGA and UCMaule for allowing me this Visiting Scholar experience and supporting my doctoral dissertation research abroad, thank you family and friends who pray for and support me continuously and finally, thank you Chile, for sharing together with me during a time of my life I will never forget.  I honestly look forward to what 2014 will brings us as we continue this journey of conocimiento together.

Chau Chau y hasta luego por ahora!

Love,

~Lisa  🙂