Fall 2017

Emily French (Middlebury College) Parque Urbano El Bosque

El Parque Urbano El Bosque is a small nature reserve located within the city of Valdivia less than five miles from the city center. Amazingly, the park boasts several hectares of native Valdivian rainforest as well as an extensive wetland. In this way, the park is very different from a typical city park and provides both local people and tourists with an accessible way to observe some of the larger ecosystem dynamics which play out in rural areas outside the city.

While working in the park, I was given a large degree of freedom to select projects that both benefited the park and interested me personally. The first part of my internship was spent familiarizing myself with the park’s everyday proceedings and generally what it means to be a privately funded nature reserve in Chile. During this initial period, I also worked to organize the park’s existing geographic data and made a small handheld map for the park’s visitors. With the help of a Middlebury Sustainable Study Abroad Grant and the park’s associates, the second part of my internship was spent designing and installing a large welcome map in the park’s entrance to help visitors understand the park and how it relates to the city as a whole.

Sam Graf (Middlebury College) CONAF (Corporación Nacional Forestal)

During my semester in Valdivia, Chile, I took an internship with the National Forest Corporation (CONAF) as well as receiving a Sustainable Study Abroad Grant to help to develop aStudent stands on a walkway with a door behind him, holding a photographnd contribute to a Middlebury Atlas, online geographic information system that can contain and catalog work done by students who participate in larger-scale projects through the Global Partnerships for Sustainability (GPS) program. During my time at CONAF in the first few months, I helped out with the data of camera traps within Alerce Costero National Park, located a few hours southwest of Valdivia. The traps and occurrences of animals caught on film give important estimates about relative abundance of birds and mammals within the park, which are crucial when developing a plan of management for different sectors of the park. I also examined the geology of the park guided by a professor and another student to begin to identify geologically significant points within the park in the interest of maintaining their beauty and integrity. This has helped me prepare for my project to contribute to the Middlebury Atlas: identifying these sites in Karukinka National Park in Isla Tierra del Fuego.

Spring 2016

Max Bulter (Oberlin College) CENAIA (Centro de Docencia de Atención Integral Ambulatorio)

My internship this past semester consisted of two main parts. First, I had the opportunity to shadow the doctors and interns of CENAIA, a university-run pediatric clinic associated with the Consultorio Externo de Valdivia (CEV) that acts as a site for practicums for students of the Universidad Austral de Chile’s Department of Medicine. Here, I was able to observe and participate in medical appointments, learn about the public sector of the Chilean healthcare system, and speak with the doctors and interns about a number of topics regarding healthcare. This was the first time that I was able to witness the medical process from an outside perspective.

The second part of my internship consisted of visits to a variety of areas of the CEV and the hospital. I had the opportunity to explore the processes of pediatric speech therapy, pediatric urgent care, house visits of elderly patients, laboratory analysis of human samples, dentistry, and dental health education. During my visits, I was able to see how different aspects of the public healthcare system work together, but also how they sometimes failed to communicate. In this way, I gained a more comprehensive perspective on the medical system in Chile.

Claire Looney (Macalester College) CENAIA (Centro de Docencia de Atención Integral Ambulatorio)

CENAIA (Centro de Docencia de Atención Integral Ambulatorio) is a medical teaching center for students studying a variety of health professions in the Universidad Austral de Chile in Valdivia. The center shares the building and the patients of a family health center for patients who live in the outer limits of the city. My internship there was primarily observation-based, with many opportunities to interact with patients, staff and students and some opportunities to participate in a hands-on way with basic medical tasks such as weighing patients or taking readings of blood pressure.

Spring 2015

Erin Birdsall (Middlebury College) La Conservación Marina

My internship was with La Conservación Marina located in Valdivia, Chile. My internship had two halves, working in the office in Valdivia and going to do field work once a month in Maullín, a small town just north of Chiloé Island and also occasionally Chiloé itself. My work in the office consisted of two larger projects and then the routine entering of census data into an excel spreadsheet. The first project I worked on was a postulation for international recognition of the sights near Maullín as key sites for the conservation of migratory shorebirds, especially for zarapitos (whimbrels and godwits), chorlos, and flamingoes. This designation will help to increase funding to the area as well as protecting it. Secondly, I wrote a report and summary to be distributed throughout the region around Maullín as well as to other shorebird conservation specialists to help create a park and observation area in Maullín in the coming years.
In my time in the field, I took censuses of the migratory shorebirds in Maullín, and sometimes on the island of Chiloé, where the organization has a second base and education program (see other Conservación Marina internship). I learned to identify many Chilean birds and census techniques. I also got to visit a lot of beautiful beaches to count birds. Normally the weather was a little harsh, but totally worth it to see thousands of zarapitos or hundreds of flamingoes, and in a small way help with their conservation. During the census trips we would sometimes stay a night or two in a cabin, and it was a great opportunity to talk to my boss and colleagues and learn more about them.  

Spring 2014

Mara Gans (Middlebury College) UACH Facultad de Ciencias - Escuela de Geología

In this internship I worked with Dr. Alexandre Corgne, a professor of Geology at the Universidad Austral de Chile. In this internship I worked with data that he collected from the 2011-2012 eruptions of the Cordón Caulle volcanic complex in the Lakes Region of Southern Chile. With this data I utilized recalculation procedures in order to determine specific percentages of various endmembers for the minerals. The two main minerals I focused on were plagioclase and pyroxene. From the information I gathered, I created comparisons with previous research on prior eruptions of the Cordón Caulle volcanic complex. As a part of this, I presented my analysis primarily in the same way as Gerlach et al. 1988 did in their paper analyzing various eruptions of the Cordón Caulle and next door Puyehue volcano. This was all good practice in learning how to make research relevant to a larger body of information that exists on a subject. Specifically, as a part of presenting this data, I created tertiary diagrams depicting the chemical makeup of pyroxenes according to their endmember compositions, as well as a histogram to show the levels of An per mol in plagioclase samples. Finally, as background research in this internship, I learned lots about the general geological processes of volcanos that create rhyolite lavas and about some of the general geology of Chile.

Spring 2013

Simone Schriger (Bates College) - Centro de Docencia de Atención Integral Ambulatoria (CENAIA)

During my semester in Valdivia, I had the opportunity to work with Dra. Loreto Podestá, a pediatrician at the University-affiliated public health clinic. My internship involved shadowing Dra. Podestá as well as some of her students and allowed me to gain a better understanding of the medical system in Chile. I was also able to see the more "urgent" side of pediatric care during a portion of the internship that was spent at the main hospital of Valdivia. Here, I shadowed a colleague of Dra. Podestá and was able to further understand the differences between hospitals and public health clinics as well as observe the ways in which patients were cared for.

Fall 2012

Niko Lambert (Middlebury College) Centro de Estudios Agrarios y Ambientales (CEA)

My internship was with El Centro de Estudios Agrarios y Ambientales (CEA). Although I participated in numerous projects during my internship, I mainly focused on working with nocturnal predatory birds. The objective of this project was to restore ecosystems that have been altered by human activity, and to help conserve threatened populations of predatory birds. By helping these populations, the CEA also hopes to use these predatory birds as a biological control for the rodent population, mainly the long-tailed pygmy rice rat. This rodent carries the Hantavirus, which is a life-threatening disease for humans. My work with CEA was more geared towards nocturnal predatory birds, such as the Barn Owl, Rufous-legged Owl, and Burrowing Owl. I helped construct and mount large bird houses for the Barn Owl in order to stimulate an increase in their population. I also worked with pellets to determine the diets of various predatory birds and analyze their role as a biological control for rodents.

Leif Castren (Middlebury College) Laboratorio Costero de Recursos Acuáticos Calfuco

During my semester in Chile I interned at the Coastal Laboratory of Aquatic Resources. Located on the coast about 30 kilometers outside of the city of Valdivia, the laboratory serves as the primary research center for the University Austral’s Marine Biology department. I worked in a lab that is exploring the potential for mass production of Chilean marine worms. They have identified various species of worms as having possible commercial uses as fishing bait, food in other aquiculture systems, or a source of key nutrients for human consumption. The lab is investigating and experimenting with various aquiculture techniques with three species native to the region with the primary goals of maximizing reproductive capacity, increasing size, minimizing death rate, and increasing maximum population density. My role in the laboratory was varied from cleaning tanks and fixing the water circulation system to extracting eggs and sperm from the worms and observing and recording egg fertilization and embryo development under a microscope. The primary goal of the laboratory is to create a methodology for production and a marketable commercial use that they will then patent and sell.

Natalie Hunter (Wesleyan University) Centro de Docencia de Atención Integral Ambulatoria (CENAIA).

For my internship I am working with three girls who are in their fourth year of school at UACH training to be midwives. All students in their fourth year have to complete a community project. The project that I am working on focuses on the issue of sexual abuse among young children. We will be running workshops in a secondary school for students in pre-kindergarten and kindergarten as well as workshops with their teachers and their parents. The workshops focus on sexual abuse prevention methods and information regarding common misconceptions about sexual abuse--victims and perpetrators. In the past year there have been two incidences of sexual abuse in the school so both the teachers and the girls decided that these workshops will be particularly relevant and useful.

Katharine Uthe (Wesleyan University) Escuela Número 45 María Deogracia Futrono

I am volunteering at Colegio María Deogracia in Futrono, Chile (about 2 hours by bus away from Valdivia). I volunteer every Thursday for the entire school day. I am working with one class of pre-kinder class, one kinder class, two classes first grade classes, and one fourth grade class. I am helping out mainly with teaching math, except in the pre-kinder class where I am helping with both math and English. My main job is to act as a classroom helper. All of the math classes, no matter what level, are taught from the same program. The teacher usually explains the lesson and the kids do practice problems. While they work on the practice problems I walk around and answer any questions they may have. For the pre-kinder class I bring a new activity every week to help them learn simple English words, like colors and shapes.

Daphnee Tuzlak (Middlebury College) Gino Casassa, Glaciers of the Volcán Mocho-Choshuenco

This semester I am interning with a glaciologist named Gino Casassa in Valdiva, Chile. My internship has two parts which include an independent study project and also a monthly field trip for a current project that Gino is working on. My independent study has involved a qualitative analysis of lake levels of three glacial lakes in Patagonia over the past three years to identify GLOFS (Glacial Lake Outburst Floods). Hopefully, this analysis will continue into a more quantitative one which will lead to learning more about the occurrence of GLOFS in southern Chile. As well, each month I accompany Gino along with other co-workers in the field to assist in the measurement of accumulation and ablation of the glaciar on the Volcán Mocho-Choshuenco.  Additionally to having the opportunity to participate in glacial studies in the field, I have also had the chance to learn how to ski while doing so and learned other valuable mountaineering skills.