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  • Writer's pictureGrace Rector

Looking back at 365 days in Chile

I've never lived anywhere outside of the United States for one year, so this milestone is significant. Looking back on the people I've met, the adventures I've experienced, and the career I've begun, I feel grateful.

To me, people are what makes a place memorable. I have made several best friends that I can't bear to think of leaving. Joining the international school community has been like entering a foreign world. Creating community at work has always been important to me, however, I've never seen community building at the scale I have seen at the international school where I work. Because everyone has been new to a new country and a new school at some point, everyone is eager to invite you into their group of friends and they're happy to invite you to join them for drinks or coffee. It's so refreshing to be in an environment of people who have lived all over the world because I can trade travel stories and they can give me tips and tricks for visiting other places. I acknowledge I occupy an incredibly privileged space in which people can afford to travel and move when they'd like, and so I give thanks for the opportunity to join this community of open-minded and loving people.

Outside of work, I've found a variety of friends in age, occupation, and background, and it's given me a deeper understanding of Chile. When I was studying abroad in Chile three years ago, I joined a local improvisation theater to improve my Spanish and to make more friends. Today I'm still involved in the improv theater, my Chilean slang has improved, and I feel closer to my improv friends after being in classes with them for a year. I met two of my best friends here by pure chance. One, I met at a painting social event and was immediately drawn to personality and viewpoint of life. The other happens to be the sister of a friend I met 4 years ago in Amman, Jordan. The world feels so small sometimes, but I'm grateful for it because it connects me with the perfect people to live life with.

Over the past year, I've said yes to every adventure that has presented itself. I have gone to birthday parties of strangers, I have gone to modern art museums, I have danced at music festivals, I have participated in women's marches, I have eaten delicious food, I have gone white water rafting, and I've played in the snow, the sun, and the rain. Every moment will remain impressed in my memory forever.

Lastly, the past year in Chile was one of the most challenging and rewarding parts of my career thus far. Teaching US History to 10th-grade students in Chile taught me so much about myself and made me aware of everything I know and don't know. I had moments where I felt like the best teacher in the world and many days where I felt like the worst teacher in the world. But throughout I had the support of my colleagues, my friends, and my students, and I can't wait to continue my career in education to see what evolves and how I grow.

There are so many things I could say about the moments I've had over the one year in Chile, but in summary, it's been the most incredible experience I've had in my life. I shed many tears thinking about how my mom won't be able to visit me here and I also wore many smiles thinking about how proud of me she would be that I chose to live and work in Chile. She lived in Ecuador for a year after she graduated from college and thus I feel that I'm following in her footsteps in some regard.

Cheers to one year in Chile. I will make the most of the 5 months that remain.

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