Micaela Palermo (Spring 2013, Wellesley College), Crea+
During my semester in Santiago, I volunteered for an organization called Crea+ dedicated to the growth and development of the mathematics programs in the public schools. They send a professional math tutor into the classrooms during the week to help the teachers improve their techniques and then hold Saturday sessions for the students. I was a co-teacher in the first grade classroom on Saturday mornings where we worked on things such as counting, simple adding and pattern recognition to name a few. In the afternoon most of the volunteer taught a workshop of their choosing to the kids ranging from kung-fu to English. I taught a creative writing course with mostly fifth graders in the class. It was such a rewarding part of my abroad experience. I loved the people that I worked with, and seeing the growth in my student's learning over the course of the semester was truly amazing. I would recommend this volunteer option to anyone who enjoys working with kids or has an interest in someday becoming a teacher!
Arantxa Gallegos (Spring 2013, Wellesley College), Crea+
Crea+ is a non-profit organization dedicated to the academic improvement in mathematics and development of special skills through the implementation of school based programs for children in first grade to eighth grade. Crea+ hosts two programs (Math Program and Skills Workshops) every Saturday in select schools that are located in social-at-risk communities. The goal of the organization is to offer extra mathematical support and encourage the development of a variety of skills, such as cooking and writing, to the extent of their will and not their reality.
My internship with Crea+ stemmed from the necessity to investigate the low attendance rates in the education programs offered every Saturday. With the use of research tools such as surveys and interviews aimed at the students, parents, professors, and volunteers, I was able to develop a guideline for the investigation. The investigation seeked to determine overall the following: what obstacles did individuals face to attend or be allowed to attend the programs, was there knowledge about the programs and its hours of function offered, the impact of external and internal support, improvement recommendations, and reactions to the possibility of changing the date and hour of Crea+. Using a margin error of 5%, the surveys were conducted to a select number of students, professors, and parents during school hours and meetings. The purpose of the internship was to utilize the investigation results to improve accessibility and knowledge about the programs offered and to increase attendance. The internship required a full-year intern to complete the process and analysis of results. My accomplishments with Crea+ were limited to the creation and implementation of the surveys for the first semester of the school year. Nonetheless, the internship exposes the intern to the different areas of the organization and the education system in Chile. It also enables contact with the students, professors, volunteers, and parents and to carry out ethnographic work when plausible.
Georgia Whitaker (Spring 2013, Bowdoin College) Museum of Memory and Human Rights
This internship with the Museum of Memory and Human Rights (el Museo de la Memoria y los Derechos Humanos) in Santiago provides interns the opportunity to learn about Chile’s recent history and gain practical experience in archival research. The goal of the Museum is to provide a public, educational space that commemorates and sheds light on the thousands of human rights violations committed by the 1973-1990 Augusto Pinochet dictatorship. The internship is in the Archival Center (el Centro de Documentación, or the “CEDOC”) of the Museum, and provides interns access to a specific archive that they will review, document and analyze throughout the semester. Though the specific archive will likely vary each semester, in my internship I reviewed a digital archive kept by the Argentine police and the Argentine Embassy in Chile during the early 1970s to monitor the flow of leftist political dissidents who gained political asylum in Argentina after the Chilean coup d’état of September 11, 1973 and who were assumed to pose a threat to the Chilean dictatorship and/or to the Argentine state. I reviewed these immigration records and compiled an Excel document that tracked the names of all the individuals recorded by the Argentine government and a brief description of why the Argentine police perceived them to be a political threat. In the last several months of my independent study, I also wrote a 30-page research paper that used these archival records as evidence of the early roots of the infamous Operation Condor in Chile and Argentina. This internship is an excellent opportunity to gain experience in archival research, to learn about Chilean history, and to interact with a body of international Spanish-speaking interns and supervisors. A solid background, or at least a strong interest, in recent Chilean history (and preferably South American Cold War history more generally) is necessary in order to make sense of the primary documents. Previous archival experience is not necessary, though would likely be helpful.
Aly Jaquith (Fall, 2012, Middlebury College) - Patagonia Sur
During my semester abroad in Santiago, Chile, I have been interning at an organization called Patagonia Sur. It is a for-profit organization whose major goal is to help preserve Chilean Patagonia by developing and investing in seven different properties in Chilean Patagonia. During my time here, I will help to establish a relationship between Middlebury College and Patagonia Sur. One of the many projects of Patagonia Sur is the sale of carbon offsets. By purchasing “carbon offsets” from Patagonia Sur, a person pays to plant trees in Valle California in order to “offset” his or her carbon emissions. My work here has been to calculate the carbon footprint of the Middlebury College Program in Chile (ie the carbon emissions of the Program Office in Santiago and the emissions of flights/trips of the students and directors). With these calculations I hope to propose the possibility of a carbon-neutral Middlebury College Program in Chile. This involves investigating the availability of funds and exploring ways that Middlebury can benefit from this relationship. This will hopefully open doors for Middlebury students to work, volunteer, and do research in Patagonia as well as serve as a model of a carbon neutrality project for other study abroad programs in the future.