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  • Writer's pictureGrace Rector

Week 3: Finding Joy

This week was the first week when I felt like I really belonged. I am adjusting to the way of life but I wanted to find a fun hobby or place to meet like minded people. I recalled my positive experience with improv in High School and University, so I decided to look for an improv class in Santiago. I found the Lospleimovil Theater in Bella Vista, which is a theater dedicated to improvisation.

This week I attended the first English improv class of the series and fell in love. I walked into a small room crowded with 30 people standing in a circle smiling and laughing. We had an incredible teacher named Rusty who led the intro class. The majority of the group were Chileans that we’re looking to improve their English skills in a fun way, and almost all of them were trying improv for the first time. Improv game after game, we started to loosen up and let our sillier sides come out.

Watching an Improv Show when Isabel got pulled from the audience to join!

After the class, we all went down stairs to the bar in the theater for a drink and then went to the only English improv show in Santiago at the theater called “Green Go” (now say it out loud)! My classmates and I sat in the audience while we watched the improv teachers give a brilliant show. We would shout out random words when they asked for suggestions, and we just laughed the whole night. Ultimately, I am soo glad that I found this theater and that I found this home away from home where we can go to play and create.

This week was also exciting because we did our first school visits of the trip. We traveled to a city 2 hours north called Valparaiso. First we visited a public school grades 1-5 called Laguna Verde, and their most impressive project that we focused on was the large garden and mini farm for vegetables, animals, and for classes about the Mapuche (Indigenous Chilean Tribe) Culture.

Joking Around

I entered a 5th grade class anticipating a class observation, but the teacher told me to do activities with the students. Luckily I love ice breakers, and always have a list in my head, so I lead Follow the Leader, Simon says (with a student named Maximilian as Simon), and Jynx. We had a great time playing together and 30 minutes in the students were leading the same games themselves and correcting others on the rules! Haha.

At recess, I kicked a ball around with some of the 5th graders and inquired after their feelings about the school. Every student I talked to told me how much they love the school and how they look forward to their time in the garden everyday. It warmed my heart when I saw one of the rowdiest kids in my class out in the garden picking up a rabbit gently and stroking its hair. Not only was the garden a fun place to run around but it was also a way to teach students to care for other living beings.

Technical High School

Later in the afternoon we visited a technical high school in Valparaiso that trained students in several tracks. It was fascinating to see all the students during recess because every student wears a jacket that indicates what they are studying based on its color, so looking at the field of students in as like seeing a sea of fish of various colors. Tracks included gastronomy, medicine, fashion, education, and printing. It was a very interesting experience because I had never visited a technical high school before.

The next day, two students from my group and I went to a random restaurant in Valparaiso with good reviews. Once we arrived, we realized that there was no one in the restaurant but the waitress was so sweet. During the whole mean she chatted with us, and at the end she gave us free shots that she thought matched our personalities. I guess my personality says Amaretto?! She sat with us in the end and told us her stories and gave us advice on how to flirt with Chilean guys.

Lastly, on Monday, we visited a school called La Victoria in Santiago. We each went into a different class to give a presentation on ourselves and some facts about American culture. I prepared my presentation but the class was very energetic and didn’t care to listen. I was in a second grade classroom and there was a LOT of energy. I tried to play a few ice breakers with them as I did at Laguna Verde but 2nd graders require more instructions and more guidance than 5th graders. It was an interesting experience visiting a school in one of the poorest neighborhoods in Santiago with a large percentage of Haitian students. During the recess I chatted with students to see how they felt about the school. Some girls from Haiti told me they didn’t like it that much because they didn’t like Chile and because the students were mean to them. These girls were only 7 years olds and were already faced with discrimination and were aware of their position in relation to Chilean students.

Mural painted by SIT participant

Overall this week was great for diving into our topics through experiencias learning. I look for are to future visits.

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