Saturday, February 27, 2010


Update: The SIT (my program) team, Rossanna, Roberto y Elena came and visited each student. They are not going to tire until they know everyone is well. They are awesome. Know that the news, both here, and in the USA is very strong. The news programs are showing the clips of the places that have suffered the most damage. Don't be alarmed and nervous because of what you see in the news. Yes, there is catastrophe -- ecspecially in the lost lives. There will continue to be aftershocks for at least a week -- but we can expect this so it's way less scary that waking up in the middle of the night to a massive earthquake. Alll of the SIT ids will hopefully all reunite in our "Casa de SIT" on Monday.

Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged. For the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. -Joshua 1:9

I am in the apartment of the son of my homestay mom and his girlfriend -- it is on the 4th floor and not the 6th in a stable building. Valeria is a singer, and she is playing the guitar and singing. She is from Argentina and this is her first earthquake too -- she is nervous, but well.

La Gente de Chile

Not really side note, but MAIN note: While I am safe and sound, not everyone in Chile is so blessed. Pray for the hurting and those who have lost much -- including people they loved. I am just one person in this very big and very beautiful country.


thanks for all your thoughts and prayers! sorry for your worries! I was able to call my family and Joshua in Africa (who didn't even really know). All is well.

Safe and Sound in Santiago

Hello All,
I am writing this in the hopes that I will have internet and can send it soon. All is well here. I am safe in my family's apartment. What is tearing me up is that news of the earthquake, "el terremoto," is probably reaching you before I am able to reach you. I have tried to call via cell phone and land line -- but interanational calls are not working--nor is the internet. I woke up in the middle of the night with my host mom and sister holding eachother at the door of the apartment screaming MargaRITTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTT, Maggggggggggggggggggie! Thanks be to God that I either was sleeping with my glasses on (unlikely) or I was able to grab them. I always thought I was paranoid for sleeping with my glasses -- but I sure am thankful now. That would have been horrible if I not only did not know what was going on nor understand much of the shouting AND I couldn't see. (If you don't know I have HORRIBLE vision). We live on the sixth floor and the whole building was shaking and glass was breaking all around us as we ran down the stairs. We ran to the plaza, trying to get away from the buildings and trees (which are always all around you in a city of 15 million people). At some point we headed back towards the apartments and my family told me to stand there and not move while my sister ran upstairs to see if they left the door open and get shoes and blankets because it was very cold and we needed to wait outside for the aftershocks (turns out the door was locked and we didnt' have a key). My host mother's 31 year old son, Andres, and his novia, Valeria, rode on their motorcyle from another part of town and somehow in all the craziness and all the people, found us not 10 minutes after the initial earthquake happened. Really, they found me standing by the stairs, but luckily, I had met Valeria the day before and we recognized eachother and quickly embraced as Chileans do (she is actually from Argentina, but has a Chilean mother and lives here now). I met Andres for the first time and then we all headed. We all just stayed together on the playground in the plaza and eventually Andres returned by motorcylce to his apartment and brought back a key to our apartment, coats for everyone, flipflops for everyone, water, and peaches.

There was no time to be afraid -- the earthquake happened and then we just had to run. No time to think about it. Finally, after a couple of hours, when it started to get light, we returned to our apartment. SIT has handled everything so well. Elena, the homestay coordinator, called me shortly after we returned to our apartment to check in and see if I was okay and to let me know that they were doing everything they could to contact our parents but had been unable to as of yet. I later fell asleep from being just overwhelmed, but turns out that Roberto, the SIT director, has personally come to the house to check on me. He was going from house to house -- to check on all 18 of us --- some students live an hour from me!

I have read that earth tremors are common in Chile, but this is the first earthquake since 1985. I know that it the earthquake was higher on the richter scale than haiti, but do not be worried, because the construction here is very sound and only very old buildings have collapsed. Most everything is standing. Also, the government has already responded and has a plan to address the emergency -- and there is food available in the stores, ect. This is defintly a new experience and part of history --- a challenge a bit bigger than arriving in Santiago alone or not understanding every word of spanish. But, take heart that I am well taken care of. I stood in the dark with people screaming and crying all around me, but my host mom, Mercedes, kept her hija, Catalina, under one wing of her bathrobe and her hija nueva -- "new daughter, me" under the other wing. Todo esta bien en Santiago. No te preocupes. All is well in Santiago. Do not worry.

As everything was happening I was just praying that you all wouldn't find out before I could contact you. But I knew that my mom probably knew before it even happened and that my Bumpa, who wakes up at three in the morning, had probably already heard. And Joshua, all the way in Africa, I hope you are at your homestay this Saturday afternoon without TV or any and do not find out before I call you. And I hope all your college people sleep in very, very late. I love you all very much and I am thankful to have people who are concerned for me -- but please don't freak out. [Jami, I am thinking about when you had your accident and Sarah and I got to the trauma room and you told us to call you mom and let her know the bad news (which of course she already knew and was rushing there as fast as possible) but to tell her not to freak out. It was a beautiful, beautiful moment to see you!!) I hope this news is broken lightly and you know that I am in the hands of someone much greater than myself.

Always, Always,Always,
Safe in Santiago,

From the Chronicles of Narnia, The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe:

Lucy: Is He quite safe?
Beaver: Who said anything about safe? 'Course He isn't safe. But he is GOOD.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

SIT, Students, Stairs and Spanish

(I wrote this two days ago, so much has happened since): I didn't oversleep -- I was so, so worried I would and then miss meeting my group! I didn't even wake up in the middle of the night to worry about not waking up. I was feeling so independent and so thankful for Holiday Inns. They even had complimentary buffet breakfast - did I mention I was thankful for Holiday Inn?? Thank Ma for choosing that hotel for me, and dad -- thanks for taveling a lot and earning points -- we miss you lots and it's crazy, but sure love these Holiday Inn points of yours! I went across to the airport at 7 AM to meet my group and after 2 very kind guys trying to help me -- except I didn't know where I was headed -- I was just looking for someone with a "SIT" sign somewhere in the Santiago airport, maybe near a coffee shop. How descriptive, no? After going up and down the levator a few times. . . (yes, I found the elevator this time). I was walking and kinda looked behind me, and then Rosana was hugging me and Robeto was kissy my cheek and at that point I figured I had found them. I was about the 5th person there, so we sat down and had coffee, water and mosas (sweet breads). I think the people on my program are very kind and tired and very well traveled. We then drove tow hours to the Pacific Ocean. It's beautiful -- I've never seen the Pacific Ocean. We are in Algarrobo -- a vacation town. It is summer vacation for Chilean students -- school starts the 1st of March. Staying at Hotel Pacifico for two nights. We eat and eat and eat. Breafast, tea with sweets, lunch, desert, cocktails and appetizers (empanadas) . . . followed directly by dinner. . . and then desert. Wow.

A couple of girls and I walked on the beach and saw adorable children, some laughing and some throwing tantrums. We had a welcome lecture, and then a name game -- everything in Spanish. Todo en espanol. This is a very good thing. Let's be real, I love learning and this experience is so tangible. I couldn't say that one minute ago, now I know how to say it kinda moments. Rossanna y Roberto, the directors, speak slowly and clearly for us to understand. They want us to know that Chile is a country of contradicitons -- a beautiful country, but one with many contradicitons -- the poor and the rich, those with opportunities and those without. Also, we must remember that thier doors are always open very wide and that they are here to support us and build relationships with us. I found out I will be living in Santiago Centro-- dead center of the city, supposedly. I'll be where it's happening.

In the evening of our first day together, we went to the Pablo Nuruda's primary residence. Nuruda is a famous poet of Chile -- in reality, he is one of the most famous poets of the 20th century. He was also a politician -- with communist leanings. When he died in 1973 (the same month as Pinochet took over as dictator) Pinochet denied permission for his funeral to be a public event-- but, people took to the streets and this marked the first public protest against the dictatorship. His house was crazy, and wonderful . . . collections of glass, ships in bottles, statues, African masks -- and oh, an entire room of seashells. Most rooms just seem like exhibits -- but that's not because it is now a museum, that's how he had the home. The coolest part was an incredible floor to ceiling stone abstract art mosaic his artist friend made him. Any artist friends out there who want to make me an incredible floor to ceiling mosaic of rock fireplace in my future home?? Let me know.

2 more points: Stairs and Spanish

Stairs: Remember my story about day 1-- carrying my bags DOWN 3 flights of stiars (yes, I'm still sore) --turns out we are on the 5th floor of the hotel and there is not an elevator (but there is an incredible view). So, I carried my luggage UP. However, the twist is that I have friends now. So, they helped me and I helped them -- "un equipo" -- a team.

Spanish: I am very thankful that Iam understanding Roberto y Rosanna very well. Carlos o Carlo is in charge of academics I think, yet I cannot yet understand him. . . and I could only sort of understand our bus driver who was in a headed debate about the new president who will be inaguarated in March and the state of the education system -- way interesting. Roberto has tow sons -- Rodrigo, 20, and Benjamin, 7. Rodrigo sat next to me at dinner-- and I asked him if he and Benjamin are good friends-- he assures me they are.I also asked him where his favorite place is in Chille. He told me a name that I cannot remeber, but it is about 2 hours from Santiago and it has some of the clearest skies in the world. It is very romantic and mysterious . . . there is a good energy there he told me. I must go. [Note: maybe the skies are so clear because there is a whole in the ozone over a big chucnk of Chile -- how comforting. I am going to wear sunscreen.

This is a gift. I can't believe I am here. Oh, I have a 25 page paper to research and write in the last 4 weeks of the program. All in Spanish, of course -- ALRIGHT. ha.

*I am copying this out of my notebook in my new room in the apartment of my new family . . . so I have lots more stories coming soon.

Un abrazo ("a hug") a todos,

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


I only have a couple of minutes --- but being here is a GIFT. Right now I am in a town on the Pacific Ocean for orientation until tomorrow where I meet my family-- Mercedes and her daughter, Catalina who is I think 25? I meet them TOMORROW. What? It's true. I am one of two students who doesn't need to use the metro to get to school everyday -- it is closer for me to walk there than to walk to the metro! Walking to school everyday sounds wonderful. I may be out of touch for a while before I get settled in in Santiago. Everyone is wonderful. The staff is increible. Before I even saw them in the airport, Rossanna was hugging me and Roberto was kissing me on the cheek. They studied our pictures ahead of time so they could recognize us. ha. So very welcoming. They speak slowly for us now so that we can understand -- but everything is always and only in Spanish. I am going to learn a lot a lot. Will share more later. Must go. Much amor a todos!! Did I mention it's like 70 degrees and for the first time I have seen the pacific ocean???

Monday, February 22, 2010

Santiago Airport, Holiday Inn, Labrador Retrievers and Fat Feet

I must admit I didn't given any thought to this before departing for Chile, but I do remember hearing that your feet may swell while flying? Well, upon arrival in Santiago, after flying through the night and sleeping less than three hours, I couldn't get my sandals on. My mind flashed back to the summer after my senior year when I went to a Braves baseball game in Atlanta and forgot my shoes (it happens, ok?) My trusty friend, Ben, bailed me out by producing a pair of men's size 10 or 11 sneakers from his trunk that he had been fishing (and standing in a pond) in that day. So, without a better option, I slopped through Atlanta and into the stadium in wet, muddy shoes. I was thinking how UN-ideal it would be to arrive in immigrations/customs in Chile barefoot. BUT, I managed to get my sandals on and winced a lot, got some blisters, and made it through. (Analogy: I hope that even when things are difficult and painful here, like my fat feet in my not fat shoes, I can still be just as excited about carrying on with the adventure as I was about arriving in Chile even with painful feet) . . . I have much more to post but I lost it all and now my computer is dying and I can't plug it in . . . so more soon!! LOVE to all. -maggie

I'll try and get more in before it dies. . .

When you arrive in Chile, if you are an American, Canadian, Mexican, English or Albanian, you have to pay an entry fee. Well, most of my cash wasn't accepted because it was too "torn" and "worn"--word to the wise: bring crispy cash when going abroad! I knew this and planned ahead for the cash I was going to exchange, but didn't think about it for my tax. Opps! Kinda defeating. I guess that cash will never experience the life of a Chilean Peso. I arrived at baggage claim and noticed a yellow Labrador retriever in a vest, and then I noticed another, then another -- they were worker dogs, sniffing away. Very cool. I really, really did think I had not been superfluous in my packing, but OH how heavy my luggage was! [and IS!]. I found a place to sit and just tried to get un-overwhelmed enough to figure out how to find my hotel. I asked for directions, and I understood the lady (speaking Spanish), but I was so tired that when she stopped talking, I completely forgot what she said-- I am pretty sure I went in the opposite direction of what she told me, but I was too embarrassed to go back and pass her on my way. The only elevator I could find was under repair by men hanging from the ceiling by harnesses, so I went down three flights of stairs -- with my backpack, computer bag, very large duffel, and small duffel. They were skinny stairs that spiraled down. Let's just say that even 8 plus hours later my arms are aching. Not a pretty sight. The BEAUTIFUL thing is that my hotel is basically connected to the airport -- just across the crosswalk from the main terminal -- gotta love that. I was not feling up to discerning which taxi to take, making my first transaction in Chilean pesos to pay them, ect. I do love a challenge, but that one was just not appealing (I just wanted to sleep!). They let me check in 5 hours early, again, beautiful. I got to my room, figured out internet, showered, slept for about 3-4 hours (I made myself), washed clothes in the sink, unpacked and repacked - trying to make everything more compact and maybe miraculously lighter??

After not having eaten anything since 6 AM, I decided to forgo the hotel restaurant, so very expensive, and head back to the airport for food -- also expensive. I ate a ham and cheese tortilla with guacamole, and, yes, Bumpa, I got bottled water. [Side note: I at at the one restaurant I could find which turned out to be a buffet and cafe -- a really delicious all you eat with asparagus and watermelon and deserts galore buffet -- Tempation. But, it was about 16 American dollars, so I stood strong and said no to that goodness and enjoyed my tortilla. When I got back to my room I realized I left my very kind waitress a pretty poor tip, but I really did mean to leave a good 10 to 15 percent. Math, especially in a new currency where things go by the thousands a lot of the time, is not my strong point. My mom called my hotel room phone from skype which was an exciting surprise. When the phone range, I didn't know if I should answer, because I have heard the whole don't talk to strangers thing sometime or another, and as of now, I know not a single soul in this nation, but then I remembered I am 21 years old for goodness sakes and answered the phone. Ha. Good thing. Well tonight I am going to get some sleep so I can meet my group early tomorrow morning. I received an e-mail from my program leaders and it was signed "Un Abrazo, Rosanna Y Roberto" ("A hug"). I think they are going to be kind because they like hugging.

I have been very grateful for this day to recover from not sleeping and shoer before meething new people, ect. However, I am also very excited to meet my group and start orientation. I'm feeling a need for some orienting right about now.

The sun came up shortly before we landed and I was able to see the Andes mountains rising out of the clouds. It was so, so great. I have officially again decided that God is a really great artist and I never cease to be amazed at the beauty of His world. I have also decided, that while I am very grateful for this opportunity to travel and learn by myself, and I am certain I am going to meet great people-- I am thinking I have been given so many incredible relationships, and I definitly want a buddy on my next big adventure. If nothing else, I could sleep better on the plane if I wasn't worried about knocking into the person next to me, ect.

So, so far, so good. Incredibly overwhelmeing. I have never felt so American, so obvious and so English speaking - and I haven't even left the international airport! Though there have been a few small challenges, I am grateful to be here and look forward to the many more (probably much more intense) and incredible expereinces to come. Thank you for the encouraging e-mails. (And, Amanda, thank you for your letter that made me cry before the plane even took off. Your words were ones that I needed to hear and didn't even know I needed to hear). Mucho Amor a todos. I wouldn't be here without you! -Maggie

The Andes in the Sky

Here are pictures from the window of my plane as we were arriving in Santiago. BEAUTIFUL. And. . . I hadn't even arrived yet!

test post from Chile. I'm here safely and having trouble posting! Love to all!

Saturday, February 20, 2010


From the introduction to Santiago (where I will be for at least the first 5 weeks of the semester) of Lonely Planet's guide to Chile and Easter Island, pg. 76:

"The rest of Chile does a roaring trade in life-changing views and earth-shattering experiences. In the capital, pleasures are more measured. Think diverse dining, walks in parks, kicking nightlife, low-key hiking and skiing on its outskirts, and an independent cultural scene that's slowly blossoming. And for all Santiago's differences with its Latino neighbors, it still has its fair share of fin-de-siecle townhouses and colonial mansions, hectic food markets, steaming steet-side snack stands, mass demonstrations and hordes of fanataical futbol fans, all overlooked by the stark peaks of the Andes."

Diverse dining? Hiking? Hectic food markets? Fanatical futbol fans? And the Andes mountains?Yes, please! !

I leave tomorrow for Santiago, Chile, and I am, stoked, to say the least, yet I am also overwhelmed and a bit nervous. I know that I will look back on this time of preparation and realize I had no idea of the adventure I was about to embark on, the people I was about to meet, or the incredible life-lessons I was about to learn. What I do know is that I am so grateful for this opportunity and for everyone who has prepared me to set out.

Thanks to mi familia, mis amigos increibles, Rhodes College and her professors y everyone who has inspired this journey and loved me well. I have always so enjoyed hearing about other people's adventures abroad: Jami in Oman, Sarah in Spain, Joshua in Uganda, Leigh in Europe, Natalie, Amanda and Lori in Thailand, Claire in Egypt and France, Dean in Turkey, Allison in Sicily and Lyndsay and John in . . . . CHILE! I've learned so much from their adventures, and look forward to my own. I consider myself a fairly open-minded person, however, I realize that is probably far from the truth. . . and I look forward (mostly) to having my perspectives shattered a bit and put back together into stronger understandings of the world and of humanity. I know I will return forever changed. I will be studying "Comparative Education and Social Change," and I love, love education so I am certain the program is going to be facinating for me -- and, my hope is, that I have choosen a program where I can run into and hangout with lots of little Chilean and Argentinian children. That would be ideal. As far as the Spanish language goes, I am going to hope for the best and recognize this as a time for God to teach me about inadequacy. I'll try to think back to my days with my wonderful high school spanish teacher, Mr. Zamore, Rhodes' Pettinaroli and Fernandez, and be inspired.

I plan/hope to update my blog on a regular basis, and hopefully next time will have more than an exerpt from a guide book to offer up.

Love to all!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Test post.