Thursday, June 10, 2010


Mom and I are headed to Chapod (where I lived for the month of May) in the morning -- there are about a thousand words I could use to describe how excited I am about returning to my amazing family there . . . but let's just sum it up with this:

I think we are going to be eating this big ol' chancho (pig) that arrived a few days before I left last week.

Yup, we are excitied.

Monday, June 7, 2010

How do I even start?

BUENO. . . my program finished today. Most people left on flights home to the USA. This weekend we all presented our projects we have been working on for the last month. My mom comes on Wed to Chile until June 19th. It's a surreal feeling. To be close to the end of this incredible, wild semester. I hope to blog a few more times to try and recap some of the experiences I was able to have. I can't even begin to explain how wonderful my time in Chapod, in the south of Chile in a Mapuche community, with my incredible family was. I worked in the school and had a blast with all the kids. My 13 year old brother there, all my sisters and my parents from Chapod were unbelievable. They made me recognize the importance of conversation and togetherness. My students learned about the world and made maps of chalk outside and were crazy. I watched lots of soccer and a ridiculous but addictive telenovela (soap opera) and had my 13 year old brother explain the parts i didn't understand. I turned in a 42 page research project in spanish -- let's be real, I didn't speak spanish before I got here. Thank you Chile and everyone here for teaching me. People loved me really well in that community. We laughed a lot. And then I came back to Santiago and was welcomed so well. I got to hang out with my amazing peers from my program. Now I am looking forward to sharing the places and people of Chile with my mom and then coming home to the USA. I have a much greater pride in my country after being away from it. It's really great, you know? -- we have a lot of freedom. I will work on writing a more descriptive and eloquent post soon . . . the problem is I am so overwhelmed by all the things I could say and also a little confused sometimes as how to write well in English. I should get on that. Looking forward to seeing people when I get home. Love from Chile!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

There´s something about it

There’s something about being here in Chapod, a rural Mapuche (the indigenous people of Chile) community, an hour outside of Temuco (a Chilean city 8 hour south of Santiago, the capital). It’s something about walking with my 13 year old brother in the dark with flashlights with crazy clear skies full of stars above us for fifteen or so minutes by dirt roads and through fences and down a muddy hill and over a bridge to return to our house after watching a Jackie Chan movie at our “cousins” house and talking about what he is going to do next year because the community school ends in eighth grade so he needs to go to the city to continue studying. . . and it’s something about scooping out 3 big spoonfuls of powdered milk and one spoonful of powdered coffee into my mug and filling it with hot water at least 3 times a day even though I have never in my life drunk hot milk nor wanted to. . .and my host mom building a fire outside and letting it die down enough until there is a good amount of hot cinder for her to burying dough in to make “tortilla” – bread – and that digging it up twenty minutes later, dusting it off, and chowing down . . . with jam and butter and peanut butter and nutella (and even banana on top) that my family loves, gifts from the United States. It’s something about attempting to make Quaker oatmeal cookies three times for my family. . . the first 2 times without a recipe . . . and succeeding at making cookies but never succeeding at making cookies that tasted like oatmeal cookies ought to taste.

It’s something really powerful about learning that one of my sister’s was the one and only of her classmates to continue on to University and the very old man with a face full of deeply etched wrinkles in the front row during the church service who just danced and danced – for 2 hours straight, praising God, and playing cards for hours on end . . .a game we decided to call OHHHHHHHHHHHHHH because you have to slap pairs and “sándwiches” and people slap with gusto and our hands ache and ache, but we just slap harder and scream louder and laugh and laugh. There is something so special about sitting at a table with my oldest sister who is a teacher in the local school and married and has a five year old daughter as my second-oldest sister does her homework for her education class and tests out her testing methods on her little niece with the help of her teacher older sister and I get to soak all that up, and get their advice on my project. And there is something about hanging out with a little second grader guy who grew up living with my two older sisters and his mom while my sisters where attending high school in the city and playing UNO and him saying, Tía (“auntie”) . . . tu eres mala tía! (you’re bad, or you’re evil . . . completely in love, not hate) When I play a card that makes him draw a bunch from the draw pile or when I win and he looses because let’s be real he just puts whatever card he feels like and doesn’t follow the rules because he is 8 years old. And my host parents explaining from chairs around the woodstove about how my host brother is not their biological son, but that their oldest daughter was doing her practicum and met my brother and his very young mother and realized that this little boy needed a home and famil, so she asked her mother if she could bring the baby boy to live in their home to be raised as their son. It’s something about seeing how much this son loves and respects his parents and the gift they are to him. There is something about watching one of the families in the community who is hosting the two other students from my program who are here for their projects love my peers so well as they go through an incredibly hard situation as a family caring for their gravely ill mother/grandmother. And there is something about the daughter of this family who accompanied me on the micro/bus into town and helped me find internet and that found me later on a street corner when I had no idea where I was and accompanied me home on the hour bus ride and talked and talked and talked with me. And there is something about not have phone signal nor internet that makes you really appreciate phone signal and internet. And there is something about receiving an encouraging text message all the way from Africa from a kind and loving and dedicated boyfriend when you thought for sure you just weren’t going to be able to hear from him. And there is something about not showering and very cold nights and watching lots and lots of fútbol as Chile prepares to head to South Africa for the world cup.

It’s something about thinking my final project would never get going and then arriving at the school this afternoon and having the students participate with enthusiasm as I had them write and draw what they think/know/believe about the world on big sheets of blank white paper to collect their thoughts before my project so that I can later collect their thoughts after my project . . . and I got to walk around and hear what they had to say and their questions and have my classmate, Tracey turn to me . . . and say, look, we are teaching! In Chile! They are writing about the world! Maggie – this is your dream!” and to take up their work at the end and read everything they had written . . .in lots of misspelled Spanish. And then it is walking home after with the 13 year old brother who was part of my class and to have him ask, how do you think the “class” went? I told him I was excited and felt like people had great ideas and that they were enthusiastic. He said he felt like it went really well and that he liked it. . . but he said, Maggie, sister, you have to always remember that you are the teacher. You are in control. So if people are acting up you just say, cut it out and then they have to cut it out. . . no other option. Believe that you are the teacher. He does not want people goofing off. That’s what he told me. . . I have a “consejero” for my project . . .an advisor. But I already spoke with this advisor about the reality that I have another 13 year old advisor who will be assisting him. And the funny thing is, my advisor is the one who brought this subject up. . . because he knows my brother and his advising potential. It’s something about looking forward to continuing my project and be challenged that it is not going to be easy . . . I am going to use the world cup as a jumping off point and teach about the world . . . .okay, the world cup is taking place in South Africa . . .. where is South Africa? What is it like? What ocean will the soccer team need to cross to arrive in South Africa . . . what does that ocean look like? What countries will be represented in the World Cup? What do the people from Ghana look like? What type of food do the Italians Eat? What language do they speak? What is France famous for? What does the United States look like? And following that up with soccer games outside . . . . Japan versus Brasil, ect

It’s something about waking up to geese honking and roosters cock-a-doodle-doing and sheep baaa-ing and pigs oinking and dogs barking. And it is something about knowing that I am blessed to have this wonderful family here in Chapod, and a wonderful mom and sister who are waiting for me to return at the end of May in Santiago, and a wonderful Argentinean family who put up pictures on facebook and send me e-mails checking in . . . and my beautiful family . . . my parents who met me the day I was born and who have always been 100% with me for 21 years and my always favorite brother and my always favorite sister and all those other great extended grandparents and aunts/uncles/cousins I have to return to in June. . . and my mom who is coming to Chile in less than a month! It’s something about all those things and then some. It’s something about that I am even getting to experience any of this at all. Like we say here in Chile, ¿CACHAI? . . . .”You understand? You get me? Do you see what I mean? Can you maybe imagine a little bit what the something I can’t sufficiently describe with words is? It’s a really beautiful something.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Headed to Chapod

Headed out on a night bus back to my rural homestay in Chapod, outside of Temuco, for my final project until the end of May! I will be going into the city a couple times a week to have interent access, so please e-mail me and keep in touch. I am going to be studying/teaching about curriculum that teaches about the history, geography and the cultures of the world. We will see how that plays out/ what that looks like. I'll try and keep you updated along the way. Hopefully I am just going to be hanging out with lots of children and drawing maps and talking about what the ocean looks like, what Africa is . . . ect and collecting their understandings of the world. I am leaving my wonderful family in Santiago, but I am headed to my also wonderful family in Chapod. Good luck to everyone who is taking finals! Peace, Maggie

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Do you remember those t-shirts that say "Life is Good?"

Soccer All the Time with Everyone

Brother Pato and Sister Julia

Neice and her buddy

Sweet, Right?

Julia off to Construct a Ruka -- a traditional Mapuche home

Eating Homemade Sopapilla and Drinking Mate

Dear Everyone,
I have been a little lax with my blogging. . . in reality, it is because so much is happening that I so desperatly want to express it perfectly that I keep saying . . . Oh I will write about this when I have more time because it was so incredible it deserves to be told well . . . well I have no time to sufficiently express anything because everything is so amazing. It is like me speaking the spanish language . . .sometimes I simply cannot completely express exactly what I want to say . . . which is difficult for me because I study communication. . . what it means to read and write and express. . . in English. So I feel a little ridiculous sometimes . . .which is good for the soul. Let me try to give you a glimpse . . . .

April 5th or so I took an overnight bus from Santiago, Chile to Temuco, Chile . . . a city in the south. We lived in a Mapuche (an indigenous people of Chile . . .and parts of Argentina) community called Chapod for one week. This community is very small, very rural, most people are family . . . and mostly very incredible and wonderful and perfect. I had geese and sheep and cows and pigs and chickens and dogs and one cat in my yard and more importantly, a mom, dad, 2 sisters and a brother that lived inside of my house. To explain the beauty of this situation let me say this: the night I left we had a wonderful dinner and my dad broke out the hymnal and looked up special occasions, farewells, and said, "If anyone would kindly join me, I'd like to sing a song of farwell" . . . and then right before I left before I got on the bus my brother and sisters put me up in the air (picture my face towards the sky and my back facing the earth) and threw me up and down . . . saying "chicle!" "chicle" which means gum as I understand it so I don't know why they said that. . . but it's a celebration thing . . .then after about 17 rounds of hugs I got on the bus and as we drove away my brother and sisters put their hands on the bus window and ran after us. Sidenote: I have a brother, (let me be specific because I have a collection of brothers these days) named Grayson . . .this brother lives in the United States and the same mother birthed us and I think he is pretty cool. He is fifteen. Although I love him and I have always loved him, I didn't come to Chile thinking. . . Oh, it would be really great to have another teenage brother in Chile. Well, I have a brother named Pato who is 13. He is super-cool. He took me to caves and taught me to play trompo -- a national game with a wooden spinning top like gadget. We bonded. We are buds. My sisters attend University during the week in the city and return on the weekends. My dad was one of the teachers in the community school but retired 2 years ago. My mom made homeade bread in the woodstove everyday and heated water for me to bathe. I also had another girl from my program living with me. Julia. Our beds were right next to eachother so we stayed up every night sharing life stories like little girls. I played soccer almost every day -- with kids and dads and moms . . .everyone. You might know that when I was little. . . well really until I was a little older than little. . . I wanted to be "an old fashioned girl" . . . I would turn out the lights and write by candlelight and wear a calico dress my mom made me . . . think Laura Ingalls Wilder. So I absolutly loved this week of my life. My family had a love for eachother and a way of expressing this love that was so pure. The reality is, however, that everything that was "fun" for me is life there. . . .it's a life full of hard, hard work without the commodities I am used to and take for granted . . . internet, hot water, lots of books in the house. . . . I could go on and on about this week of my life forever and ever. . . . but the good thing is I am hoping/planning on returning here for my last month of my program to do my final research/project. I haven't told my family in Chapod yet . . . hopefully they will be a quarter as excited as I am! More stories later.

Now I am in Buenos Aires, Argentina. What a change of pace. This too is an incredible, but COMPLETLY distinct experience. Before I arrived here I kind of thought . . . I hope my family isn't wonderful because it is already going to be hard enough to say goodbye to my amazing families in Santiago and Chapod. Guess what-- they are wonderful. My sister and her boyfriend are tango dancers and I have now been to 3 tango classes. . . I think this will be a new lifelong passion . . .I already talked with Joshua about taking classes with me when I get home! He's all for it. My mom and dad are great and have incredible conversation and cook incredible food and teach me so much. I also live with 2 other students studying abroad . . . Laura, from Switzerland and Mats from Sweden (but was born in MEMPHIS, Tennessee of all places. . . small world). So you can imagine our dinner conversation . . . we usually start dinner around 10 and finish talking and cleaning up aroud 1, 1:30 AM. BEAUTIFUL. One of my goals in life is to live a life full of long dinners. One day I was standing in the kitchen with my Argentinian mother as my sister from Switzerland whose first language is German sat at the kitchen table reading outloud in Spanish the history of Las Madres in Argentina . . . .these women are mothers whose children "dissappeared" during the dictatorship . . . 30,000 people disappeared under the final dictatorship of Argentina. Crazy. Everyne lost someone. These women have been uniting since the days of the dictatorship to call attention to this atrocity and to fight for the causes their children didn't have the chance to. They have marched every Thursday at 3:30 PM in Plaza de Mayo in front of La Casa Rosada for 33 years! We talked with one of the mothers, Juanita last Tuesday and marched with them last Thursday. Talk about a powerful exprience. It's one thing to read about, it's another to watch a 96 year old women walk with a photo of her daughter she lost to the dictatorship around her neck. All the mothers wear white scarfs on their heads to identify themselves . . . this tradition first started by wearing one of their lost child´s cloth diapers from their childhood. Google this history. It will break your heart and make you stronger.

Other cultural activities I have done in the past week: tango dancing, went to a drum circle show, gone to incredible street markets, the Bellas Artes National museum, wandered these amazing streets and discovered cafes and restaurants and clothing stores and art galleries. It's a dream really. I can't even express how much culture and how much there is to do in this magical city. You really must visit. The Spanish is distinct . . . there is differnt pronunciation than in Chile and many words used in Chile are not used here. . . so I'm transitioning. All double L's in Chile are like y's. . . here they are jahhh o something like this. For example: Cay-A is street in Chile. Cay-J is street in Argentina.

I am still loving it here. I am missing people something aweful, of course, but I do believe that I am learning an unincredible amount that is going to stay with me forever and ever. My appetite to know the world has been wet. . .or rather, drenched. Anybody want to travel?? I am all for it. I am being challenged and amazed and misunderstood and questioned and encouraged and . . . . .

Thanks for reading my world wind month update . . . hopefully more details and pictures later. I have, however, elected to spend my last month in a place without internet. . . but I plan to go into the city a couple times a week to conduct interviews, use the internet, ect. I am really excited about my project . . . I realize that many of the children of the Community of Chapod may not know what the ocean looks like or what is Africa or what people look like in China. . . I am hoping to do some kind of praticum teaching about the world and collecting written work of what the kids in the school think about the world in an effort to encourage the appreciation of their culture, La Mapuche, as important and special and distinct in the world.

A special shout-out to Jessica and Chad who got married today . . .and to the Buono family. I sure wish I could have been there and know that it was so very special. I love you!

Another shoutout to my dear friend, Cristina. I remember you and am encouraged by you today and always.

Un beso y un abrazo fuerte a todos,

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Tía Mar-ga-rit

I had the privelege of observing in a basic school (preK-8) here in Santiago -- 4 times to date. I have so much to share and so little time. More stories later. . ..but for now a quick summary and some pictures from my day in Pre-Kindergarten. Let's just say I get to go to elementary school -- that should sum up how fantastic it is. The kids ask me all sorts of ridiculous and wonderful things. . .

Here's a tiny taste: My first day at this school, I observed 5th grade. After introducing myself as from the United States, I took a seat in an empty desk. The boy in front of me turned around and enthusiastically said, "Are there more McDonald's there?" and promptly offered me a Jonas Brothers sticker. Oh, America. I get to jump rope at recess and play tag and watch the pre-Kinder teacher get on all fours and demonstate how to walk like a cat and then the students have to mimic this manuever themselves -- some slither like snakes instead of strutting like cats. In basic school (K-8) teachers are called "Tia" meaning, aunt. I am Tia Mar-ga-rit. The kids don't understand who I am if I am not a student and I am not a new teacher. They have decided I must be someone's (in their school) mom. I assure them (and you) that I am not. They are simply bewildered as to who I could be --but, notwithstanding, they want to talk to me and talk to me. I get stories about scars and burns, what other countries kids immigrated from, and even kids who beg me to let them show me how to fart with their armpits (in the middle of the teacher teaching). Everyday when I leave the school I get at least 20 kisses on the cheek -- often leaving crums of their previously consumed snack on my face. It's glorious. More soon.

(Note: all these pictures are from Pre-Kinder. )

This little guy did not want a picture of himself, but of his easter egg. He was very proud.

Pre-Kinders coloring Easter Eggs!

The teacher was Amazing -- so engaging.

Above: Dancing up a storm. Check out the kid in the forground with the big smile .
He was just loving this.

Below: An easter bunny that was hopping around the Pre-Kinder class!

Below: Diligently working on their easter egg coloring projects -- check out the backpacks -- Barbie, Tinkerbell, Disney Princess, and Hannah Montanta. The little guy in this photo even had a Spiderman backpack that he just had to show me.

Sweet, yeah?

Everyone jumping up at once when the teacher asks for volunteers to practice walking like a kitty cat.

The teacher encouraging the students along as they practice walking like cats.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

La Monce

I am getting to know more Chileans! A couple of weekends ago I visited a Children's Home in Santiago after being invited by a friend on my program, Cassandra, whose mom (host-mom) volunteers at the home. This is were I fell in love with La Monce (see above). I am definitly going to have to return. La Monce and I blew bubbles, played with play-dough, and practiced colors. We started with blue. After that, everything was blue. Ha. I helped her climb up onto the playground were she commenced to wave at everyone below and say "Hola" and laugh for a good 25 minutes. One of the volunteers started calling her "Hola" instead of "La Monce." Ella es super-linda y super-simpatica. (Really pretty and kind -- sorry, I don't know how to do accents on the blog so spanish words are tough). I adored her/adore her still. Cassandra's Chilean host mom was a really good example of how to interact with the kids -- she just hugged them and kissed them and told them they were so so beautiful, or so so handsome. That's what they need--- plain old affection. They were all under 5 years old or so! Definitly one of my most special couple of hours in Chile so far. Thanks, Cassandra!
Today I started my observations in a Chilean Basic School -- grades K-8. In the first class I visited -- 7th grade Natural Sciences, after I introduced myself the boy sitting in front of me turned around and asked me if there were more McDonalds in the United States than in Chile. I told him that, yeah, there were. Then he proceeded to offer me a Jonas Brother sticker! Oh, America -- are we more than McDonalds and Jonas Brothers? I like to think so. I am glad to start delving into the hands-on part of this adventure. After classes, my program invited students studying English at the university we have classes in to a bar where we hung out -- we spoke Spanish and they responded in English. Great practice, lots of fun, and I made some new Chilean friends. Tommorrow is a party for my program director's 50th birthday and his 25th wedding anniversary -- so he invited all of us to his house!