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Novedades, despedidas, & nuevas etapas de la vida.

Taking a look at my last thorough, below surface-level blog entry, I’d say that I’m more than past due for a solid write-up to get my faithful readers up to speed regarding what’s been going on down in my Chilean bubble for the last few months. Indeed, when it comes down to it, “bubble” is really the most accurate term to describe my last few remaining months in this lindo pais. Now, I say this in the most positive way possible. Pretty much, I’ve developed such a cozy and unwavering daily routine that I feel as if I’ve slipped into some sort of alternate reality. First of all, my Colegio: teaching classes, preparing my palta, pancito, queso, y jamón  cervecero breakfast sandwich during 2nd recess, cracking jokes with my secondary school kids, running around chasing and playing hide-and-go-seek with the little tykes of primary school and pre-kindergarten, taking a stroll to the esquina and chatting with the folks behind the counter at the corner store, as well as communal lunches with my fellow profe’s are just a few examples of things that are carried out without fail on a weekly basis. Outside of work hours, weekly trips to the playa in Vina or roaming around the hills of Valpo, grabbing pisco sours in the Quilpue Centro, asados, trips to the campo, along with several other variations of fun-having have filled my schedule in the last few months. Below are some recent highlights!

Feliz Dia del Profesor!

The second Friday of October, otherwise known as “El Día del Profesor”, could certainly be viewed as a big reminder why teachers choose the career path they have. The love and respect for us profesores flowed freely on this day, where all of the students organized a huge breakfast, featuring dances and numbers by different grade levels to honor the work that teachers put in day in and day out. A continuación of the several thoughtful, heart-warming, and very entertaining performances, all of us went to the countryside in Olmue to relax, do some asado-ing, kick around the pelota, sing songs, and take in the good vibes floating around. I even prepared my first ever batch of pebre, a tomato, onion, cilantro, and spicy aji pepper mix resembling salsa. It actually turned out much better than expected.

An old friend comes to visit

Abbie Richert, my mate-drinking accomplice in Seattle, stopped by my neck of the woods this past October on her way to Argentina. We hadn’t skipped a beat! Two years after a rather enlightening experience studying abroad in Buenos Aires, she had successfully found a way to be reunited with her beloved city. Her five days here were spent aimlessly wandering around Valparaiso, hanging out at the dunes of Con Con, cooking true Chilean cuisine with my host mom, taking ‘once’, and experiencing Halloween Chilean-style. All in all, it was very delightful to have another good friend from the states visiting me in my southern home (the first one was Kamran back in June).

Havana Nights

My colegio hosted a “Noche Cubana”, featuring an authentic group of Cuban “trovadores”, black beans, fried plantains, pulled pork, ‘Buena Vista Social Club’ covers, group salsa lessons, and mojitos at a luka a piece ($2)!! Lo pasamos bien, por decir lo menos.

La Cumbre del Rock Chileno

La Cumbre del Rock Chileno is an annual music festival currently in its third year, with the sole objective of showcasing the pioneers and up-and-coming artists in Chilean rock. Some of the highlights of the festival were Manuel Garcia, Fernando Milagros, Astro, Chinoy, as well as a performance by the previous vocalist for Los Prisioneros and one of Chileans all-time rock icons, Jorge Gonzalez. We were definitely among a handful of gringos (at best) in attendance, but what we lacked in complete comprehension of each song’s lyrics we made up for passionate yelling and jumping around. However, the festival was certainly although not without its fair share of shortcomings. There was a notably rushed feel to the show, as the event organizers started to realize their inaccuracy in the necessary time vs. time allotted with respect to the nearly 40 artists on the docket. This resulted in about 5 seconds to exhale, absorb and feel the post-set rhythms and lingering bass before the following artist was hurriedly plugged in and off to the races. Water shortage on a low 30° Celsius day, along with a lack of available food for sale definitely subtracted from the overall fantastic sets and collective energy that the festivals artists and crowd provided. Yet, at the end of the day, the positives outweighed the negatives, and the music that we did manage to hear was more than a blessing to the eardrums.

English Club makes a movie!

Over the past few weeks, my co-teachers and I made a movie with my elective students with the end goal of submitting it to a film competition in the region. After countless sheets of paper turned-crumpled mini paperbasketballs were flung into the nearby wastebasket, we finally stumbled upon the idea of ‘the Gangnam Games’ which, as its name implies, is a bit of a mini-hybrid between The Hunger Games and the Gangnam Style dance, with a bit of Despicable Me thrown in for good measure. Although we had a blast with the filming of the movie in and of itself, we were even more overjoyed to find out that we had won 1st place in the film festival! On top of all that, our main actor, Phillip, nabbed the award for “Best Actor Overall”. Below are a few production shots. Video coming soon!

Thanksgiving ‘A La Chilena’

This Sunday, all of us gringos decided not to let the change of country/hemisphere/climate/etc. interfere with our celebration of one of the few true American holidays we have. We had a dinner and invited several of our friends, teachers, and host-family members to share in this momentous occasion. Even though we were short of luck in securing some of the essentials (I’m still slightly bitter about the complete and utter lack of sweet potatoes), we still managed to recreate the quintessential brown, red, and yellow-leaved dinner table with some traditional, yet unconventionally prepared favorites. Turkey breasts thrown on the grill, squash and apple pie, mash potatoes, green bean casserole, stuffing, sautéed carrots, and corn with a Chilean spice called merquen. All in all, my second thanksgiving spent abroad, and it definitely did not disappoint!

Una Despedida Montesolina

This past Monday, I was welcomed at my school with a surprise farewell event, one which I will never forget. Each of my courses did a little something unique and special to send me off appropriately. Some highlights were my 2nd medio’s rendition of Simon and Garfunkel’s “Mrs. Robinson” with a more personalized title, “Mr. Fellerman”*; a video by 1st medio charting the life path of Profe. Julian, from the pre-Chile stage of my life up until the current day, charting all of my funny moments in between; lastly, my 8th basico filmed a video to Hall & Oates’s “You Make My Dreams Come True”, interwoven with a bit of Calle 13’s “Atrevete te te te”, complete with a cellphone recording of my very own karaoke rendition of the same song (thanks Claudia!). The gesture was a very moving one, to the point where, as I took the microphone to say a few words, I could barely finish my third sentence as I felt tears welling up. My time at this school has been beyond anything I had ever expected at the beginning of the program back in February. The kids, teachers, staff, and even the street dogs that lay around by the stoop at the entrance, have all accepted me as one of their own into the Montesol family. Words cannot describe how much I will miss this place.

*Here are the lyrics to the revised version:

And here´s to you Mr. Fellerman

Chile loves you more than you will know (wo, wo, wo)

God bless you please Mr. Fellerman

Chile holds a place for those who go, go away

(hey, hey, hey)

 

We´d like to know if one day you´re planning to come back

We´d like to be waiting for you with open arms

Look around you, all you see are sympathetic eyes

Stroll around the grounds until you feel at home

 

And here´s to you Mr. Fellerman

Montesol loves you more than you will know (wo, wo, wo)

God bless you please Mr. Fellerman

Montesol holds a place for those who teach

Like you did, like you did

 

Meanwhile at montesol where no one ever goes

Students are weird asking nonesense

Negros, mexican and accents in the USA

But most of all, they want you here to stay

 

Coo Coo Ca-choo Mr. Fellerman

Montesol loves you more than you will know (wo, wo, wo)

God bless you please, Mr. Fellerman

Montesol holds a place for those who teach,

Like you did, like you did

 

Sitting in a classroom on a Monday afternoon

Going to the break with our mates

Laugh about it, shout about it

this song is for you

Everywhere you go we will miss us

 

And here´s to you Mr. Fellerman

Chile loves you more than we will know (wo, wo, wo)

God bless you please Mr. Fellerman

Chile holds a place for those who go , go away,( hey, hey, hey)

English Opens Doors: Farewells and Reflections

This past Monday, we had a final gathering of all the volunteers in the 5th region. For many of us, it was actually the first time meeting face to face. However, it would be the last time for just about all of us visiting the Ministerio de Educacion campus in Vina to touch base with the program reps. Strange feeling, really, how our time in this program has literally elapsed in what feels to be the blink of an eye. Regarding my VS1 volunteer cohort, there we were, 9 months back, fresh gringo faces with a pep in our step, the thirst for travel pulsating through our being, each one ready for a year of surprises and uncertainty. In any case, I must say that I’m extremely satisfied with the outcome of my stay here in Chile: literally, nothing but great things to say on the topic of my school, co-teachers, host family, and everything in between. Considering the less than desirable circumstances of many a volunteer throughout the course of the year, I recognize this good fortune and am very grateful.

What’s next?

It’s certainly been a long, interesting and satisfying journey since my inception into this alternate Chilean world. Goodbyes will probably be much harder than I realize…yet, I’m ready to face them. Regarding my next step, I had been applying for a variety of jobs over the past few months, most of which were Santiago-based. Then, an e-mail appeared out of nowhere, and that was that. That same e-mail turned into an interview, which, a very short time ago turned into a potential offer for a job at a consulting company in Seattle, Linksbridge LLC, doing work with global development programs through a grant at the Gates Foundation. As of yesterday, I officially confirmed the offer, and am set to begin work there in January! I am beyond elated to take another step forward, getting the opportunity to work in a challenging environment doing fascinating work.  Most of all, I’m looking forward to reconnecting with my friends, family, and other folks, as well as living and experiencing Seattle from a non-U District perspective. In the meantime, I will be utilizing my time until day one ‘on the job’ to the absolute fullest, spending the first two weeks of December in Buenos Aires and the beaches of Uruguay, then a week and a half of family time as my Pops and sister come to visit me down here in Chile, followed my NYE in Valparaiso. So…Amurrrica, see you in 2013!

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What good shall I do this day?

What good shall I do this day?

A copy of Benjamin Franklin’s daily itinerary in the height of his period of personal enlightenment.

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Age-old Wisdom.

Age-old Wisdom.

Campo, Playa, y Peru

A nice little random assortment of pictures from recent events down here in the spine of South America to get you through your week (or weekend I guess, as this post was repeatedly pushed back). Photos were taken in the following places:

Colliguay–The countryside in the hills outside of Quilpue, where there was a parade to mark the beginning of the Chilean Independence week.

Horcon–A neat little, rather hippie-friendly fishing village an hour north of Valparaiso. Went there for a little journey with Ashley, one of the other gringos, Yose, another teacher at my school, as well as my host mom. Delicious seafood empanadas, litros of cerveza, wandering around soaking up the sun, and vagabonds with guitars playing for whoever will listen were some of the more memorable aspects of this charming little inlet town.

Arequipa–Already have spoken at length about this hidden treasure of a town in Southern Peru. However, some photos from a new friend I made on the trip just made their way into the virtual realm, and so I felt obliged to show them some blog love. In particular, please enjoy the ones of me dancing an “indigenous 1-2 step” with a Peruvian woman in a small village at the top of Colca Canyon (and most likely butchering their native dance).

Lots of things are afoot down here, but I haven’t really had the “ganas” to write a commentary that will do these recent experiences justice. So, chau for now!

Changing of the Seasons in Two Hemispheres

First day of autumn in my dearly missed Seattle……

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…..Meanwhile celebrating the first day of spring down south, on a beach near the fishing village of Horcón, Chile.

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Why Put Off For Tomorrow What You Can Do Today?

Biggest life risk

The quote in this photo resonates quite a bit with me, especially regarding the decision I made to come down here 9 months ago. Operating with a future-oriented mindset can be extremely beneficial in many ways, allowing for structure, security, and some sort of expectation for the next thing in life. However, in having to decide between staying comfortably put and beginning a steady job from the outset, a decision which ultimately would have meant putting off indefinitely an opportunity in life that doesn’t present itself too often, my gut took over any sort of deductive reasoning that was taking place, and security made way for spontaneity. Looking back on my experience this past year, let’s just say i’m enjoying the fruits of acting impulsively.

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Las tipicas 42 frases del Colegio Montesol

Algunas frases tipicas que se escuchan diariamente en los pasillos de Colegio Montesol. El video sirve para que todos aquellos, alla en Gringolandia o donde sea, tengan un idea de la vida Montesolina que todos nos hemos acostumbrado amar.

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