Students at the Middlebury School in Chile have held internships in a variety of fields. Read below about their experiences in different program locations: Concepción, Santiago, Temuco, Validivia, Valparaíso and Viña del Mar
Maia Buschman (Middlebury College)
La Dirección de Servicios de la Universidad de Concepción is an entity responsible for most maintenance tasks and general functioning of the university. There are four main divisions: Supply and Provisioning, which buys and distributes goods and resources needed by the institution; Maintenance, in charge of campus landscaping as well as electrical services; Projects, where architects design and develop new structures and buildings; and General Services, responsible for campus security, cleanliness, and mail distribution. For my internship, I worked under the guidance of the subdirector of the Dirección de Servicios on issues related to sustainability. At present, there is neither an office of sustainability nor any other centralized resource through which people can learn about the university’s progress or current initiatives. My task as an intern was to begin to consolidate this information.
I started the semester learning about the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and an online tool called the Sulitest, developed specifically to teach university students about the SDGs and core principles of sustainability. Early in the term, I gave a presentation on the Sulitest at a sustainability seminar with the Red Campus Sustentable, hosted by the Universidad de Concepción. In the latter part of my internship, I spent my time analyzing course offerings to determine how many classes related to the SDGs, and in the process was able to help develop a methodology for a more thorough and scientifically valid analysis. Additionally, I researched to identify what programs, organizations, and entities were working on important sustainability initiatives with the university, and I interviewed their directors or other willing and available representatives to learn about how they had started, what they were doing, and what plans they had for the future. I combined the course analysis and initiatives research into a report, commenting on strengths and weaknesses and suggesting ways to improve or things to work on. Ideally, my work here serves as a valuable starting point for subsequent and ongoing progress in sustainability within the university.
Lydia Fanning (Colby College)
Colectivo Sin Fronteras is an organization that works with immigrant children and their families. The primary goal of the Colectivo is the rights of children, and they do all sorts of activities, events and lessons related to children’s rights. Working as an intern in the Colectivo, I was there from 3:30 to about 7:30 pm on weekdays. I also participated in a few special events, like the Carnaval Sin Fronteras, which is an annual event at the Colectivo where hundreds of adults and children dance and march through the streets to promote the rights of children.
A typical day in the Colectivo: First the younger group of children comes at 4:00, to play games outside and then to work on their homework. Then at 5:30 the older group of children comes to do the same. Activities vary day by day, depending on the goals of the children. My responsibilities included helping with English homework, discussing conflicts at school, organizing activities to teach about race and diversity, and playing soccer, to name just a few. I feel incredibly fortunate to have been a part of Colectivo Sin Fronteras; I truly feel like a member of a big family, and I will never forget the people I taught, worked with and learned from there.
Marcelo López (Middlebury College)
FOSIS, or Fondo de Solidaridad e Inversión Social, is a service of the Chilean government, which was created on October 26, 1990. FOSIS serves as a subdivision of the Ministry of Social Development, and mainly provides its assistance to people in situations of poverty or high-risk living conditions. One of the biggest beliefs FOSIS holds is that every person has the capacity for greatness—it’s just a question of said person discovering that for themselves.
During my time at FOSIS, I worked on a work project that aimed to integrate migrants from Haiti, Colombia, and Venezuela into the Chilean workforce. The project was restricted to the Macul district of the city, meaning that I also had direct contact with people who worked in the municipality. Furthermore, during my internship, I gathered research on the Haitian experience here in Chile, especially because the immigration wave from Haiti is an extremely new phenomenon. At the end of my internship, I will be submitting a list of recommendations to FOSIS with the hopes that they will be able to improve their outreach techniques with Haitians.
Mike Nunziante (Middlebury College)
Because I knew that the city had been experiencing an influx of immigrants over the past several years, I wanted to use my internship as an opportunity to learn about communities with high numbers of migrants and experience firsthand how Chilean organizations were helping to integrate the different cultures that were arriving to Santiago. Through my work with FOSIS and the Chilean state’s Ministry of Social Development, I was able to gain a deeper understanding of the logistics of community development work from the administrative, state-sponsored end in Santiago. With my supervisor, I visited working-class communities with large immigrant populations from Haiti, Peru, Colombia and other countries. I learned firsthand about FOSIS’ focus on interculturalism and how they are working with NGOs and other partners to facilitate their community development initiatives with cultural integration at the forefront.
I also had the fortune to split time between FOSIS and one of their partners, Colectivo sin Fronteras, with which I participated in the field. I spent about 10 weeks working with Colectivo in a marginalized community called Población 6 de Enero. In this time, with the support of Middlebury’s Sustainable Study Abroad grant, I was able to purchase five ukuleles for music lessons with the kids. After a few weeks, the kids decided that they wanted to make a music video about the effects of drugs in their community. It was an absolute privilege to, through this part of my internship, share with the children a creative way to speak up about issues in their community. Overall, I can confidently say that I have grown immensely through the balance of administrative and field experience and the knowledge of community work that I gained through my internship in Santiago.
Natalie Figueroa (Middlebury College)
During my semester abroad in Santiago I had the pleasure of interning with FOSIS (el Fondo de Solidaridad e Inversión Social) with their Intercultural team. FOSIS is a governmental organization that provides social programs in over 15 regions to provide the skills for its users to overcome situations of poverty and social vulnerability. FOSIS in recent years has taken a multidimensional approach in how its functionaries interact with its users as their clientele has broaden through the years. It’s Intercultural team works with directors of their other regional offices to educate their workers on the growing migrant population that is appearing in the demographics of users. As part of their Action Plan for the following two years, FOSIS is working to make migrant education a priority through workshops and programs for their migrant users as well as educational workshops and activities for the employees of FOSIS to inform them of the reality of the migrant situation in Chile.
During my internship, I created a contact list of over 70 organizations based in Chile that work with migrants for FOSIS to contact and coordinate future projects (one which will begin in July 2017 with Colectivo Sin Fronteras). I also evaluated Excel data from four sessions of their educational workshops (Taller de Sensibilización) for their employees to see its effects on providing a just understanding of the reality migrants face in Chile and diminish preconceived notions that affect relations between the functionaries and migrant participants of FOSIS programs. I was able to attend the following version of the workshop done in conjunction with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Migration to see their work in person. With all the information I collected I created a 30 page diagnostic report on my findings and suggestions. I also contributed to making graphs of demographic data of their migrant clientele for their first office wide diagnostic report on migrants in FOSIS programs.
I loved being a part of the formation of a project meant to bring people together in a better understanding of the recent and growing migrant population in Santiago. The team welcomed me with open arms and made sure I had different facets to explore my interests. I value my time spent with FOSIS because they valued the work that I contributed to and will incorporate it into their national reports. My experience helped me shape my future career plans and helped me gain more of a global perspective on the topic of migration as it plays out in the Americas.
Kate Bird (Wellesley College)
During my semester in Santiago, I had the opportunity to intern at the Centro Tecnológico para la Sustentabilidad (CTS), a center focused on agroecology, renewable energy, ecotourism, and other topics in sustainability. The center is located in Buin, a city to the south of Santiago. The CTS aims to promote natural resource conservation through education and community outreach, particularly in the Maipo province surrounding Buin. The CTS is also a practical example for students at the Instituto del Medio Ambiente (IDMA), a technical institute based in Santiago. My work at the CTS was focused in agroecology, and I primarily worked in the greenhouse, raised beds, and field areas of the center. I had two supervisors at my internship: Santiago Peredo Parada, a professor at Universidad de Santiago de Chile (USACH) and a partner of the CTS, and Claudia Barrera, the director of the CTS. Every Wednesday, when I was working at the CTS, I also met and worked with many other employees at the center, an aspect of the job that I loved.
My primary task was assisting with the agricultural aspects of the CTS, through which I was able to learn about the sustainable agricultural techniques the center implements for pest control, fertilization, and more. The CTS is completely organic and does not apply any chemical fertilizers, pesticides, or herbicides. Instead, the center implements practices such as compost fertilizer, ecological corridors, and crop rotation to perform these functions. On a weekly basis, I helped with a huge variety of different tasks at the center. Some weeks, I harvested crops such as chives and lettuce or, in the greenhouse, oregano. Other times, I transplanted lettuce seedlings in the raised beds or sowed bean seeds in the field. I was frequently weeding and preparing the soil for a new crop. One of my favorite aspects of the internship was how, every day, all the employees cook and eat lunch together. I loved the welcoming community of the CTS and admired the patience and dedication of everyone at the center!
Laura Dillon (Middlebury College)
I worked at the Museum of Memory and Human Rights in the international relations and production areas. I helped coordinate a conference that took place at the end of my semester. The event was centered around Dr. Farhad Khoskohavar, a professor from Iran who studies the radicalization of Islam, especially in Europe. I learned a lot - especially how to coordinate a conference from beginning to end, including attending meetings, inviting academics, and planning logistics. I also gained much understanding of human rights in Chile and the issues that the museum works to resolve and present. At the end of my internship, I felt comfortable and familiar in the museum, I learned many different things, and saw how the different museum areas work together to keep the museum going.
One of the most interesting and surprising things I did was the research at the beginning of the internship, looking for relevant academics and professors from Santiago to invite to the event. I discovered many centers of study of religion and very active religious society in Santiago and learned that Santiago is a center of religious coexistence - with very large and influential Islamic and Jewish communities, as well as the majority Catholic community. Another of my favorite things to see was the role of marketing and communication in the production process of a conference and the social tools they use to advance knowledge of the museum and human rights. The work that the museum does in these areas is very important and I am grateful that I had the opportunity to help, even if only for a few months.
Nicole Bañales (Swarthmore College)
During my time as an intern at the Museum of Memory and Human Rights I researched a topic of my choosing using the museum’s collection of books, video testimonies, archives, and journal articles. I was given a computer to complete my research in the Center of Documentation in the museum and worked alongside another intern from Brazil and two research librarians who guided me in finding all the resources I needed. I also had two supervisors, María Luisa Ortiz, the director of collections and research, and Walter Roblero, the research archivist and manager of the oral archive of the museum. They would routinely check in on me to make sure I had all the resources I needed and to answer any questions I might have.
For my own investigation, I decided to follow the museum’s 2017 theme of syndicalism, focusing on the experiences of female labor unionists during the dictatorship in Chile. I spent the first few weeks learning about the history and policies of labor unions throughout the twentieth century in Chile, particularly during the dictatorship when they were severely repressed. After choosing to focus my investigation on the female experience, Walter, my supervisor, led me to four video testimonies of women who had been labor union leaders clandestinely during the dictatorship. After watching their testimonies, I decided to focus my investigation on their experiences as well as the processes and policies throughout the twentieth century that contributed to their discrimination as female labor union leaders. I recommend this internship to any student who is interested in the themes of memory and human rights who want to investigate a specific topic related to these themes. The museum has an abundant supply of resources and people who are always willing to help.
Georgia Whitaker (Bowdoin College)
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.
Isabel Gross (Haverford College)
The Museum of Memory and Human Rights has multiple functions: to preserve and examine the history of the Chilean dictatorship, to educate the public about human rights, to provide a space for victims and relatives to share their stories. Often, these functions intertwine; thus my internship, while focused on research, will also contribute to education efforts, as the report will be publicly available via the Museum’s digital library.
During my internship at the Museum of Memory and Human Rights, I investigated the participation of women’s groups in the resistance to the dictatorship. I focused particularly on those groups from the Chilean regions, rather than Santiago, as these have not been studied as thoroughly as the groups from the capital. The culmination of the project was a fifty-page report detailing my analysis of ten different organizations.
The majority of my research consisted of reviewing primary source material—mainly audiovisual interviews, but also public speeches, open letters, pamphlets, founding documents, written testimonies, letters, photos, and telegrams. Moreover, toward the end of the internship, I participated in an interview with a community organizer of indigenous and rural women. Drawing from all of these sources, I formulated an analysis of the structure, rhetoric, and specific actions of each group and generated comparisons between the different organizations.
While I passed much of my time doing research in the library, I was also invited to attend my colleagues’ lectures and presentations, and to participate in the discussions that followed.
Laurel Benjamin (Haverford College)
Caserta is a foundation that aims at developing confidence, teamwork, self-esteem, and emotional understanding among students aged 4 through 17. Through carefully constructed activities and workshops, students learn more about themselves and their relationship with their environment and each other. Mentors play a big role in this foundation, serving as role models, guides, and liaisons between students and professors, which helps students to grow in safe and trustworthy space. The majority of the programs are held in Likandes, a protected natural territory in el Cajón del Maipo, which has the feel of a summer camp, filled with different mundos (worlds) to be discovered, including the world of theater, heights, and alchemy. This program encourages students to step outside of their comfort zone and engage with one another in important conversations and group challenges.
I had the opportunity to serve as a guide on Caserta’s educative team during a few of their excursions to el Cajón del Maipo. My roles included helping to lead activities with the students, as well as helping to plan them ahead of time in the Caserta office site. I served as a peer mentor during one of their overnight excursions with 14-16 year olds, leading students on hikes and in conversations about how to cohabit a space peacefully. Many memorable conversations included those about leadership vs. authority, and how we can identify the difference and embody leadership in our daily interactions. I learned a lot about what it means to be a leader— sometimes it means physically guiding a group, while other times it can simply mean leading by example. Caserta is made up of a dedicated team of leaders and educators that I feel privileged to have known during my time in Chile.
Mikaela Chang (Middlebury College)
Fundación Caserta is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing alternative education for learners of all ages, providing the structure to self-reflect and build strength as a community, whether that be the students in a 3rd grade classroom, their teachers, or the directors of a school. The majority of the programs led by Caserta take place at Parque Likandes, situated in Cajon del Maipo in the Precordillera, being that outdoor education is a core ideal of the program and meant to help provide an enriching and meaningful experience. My primary work with Caserta was related to accompanying students to Parque Likandes for day-excursions, where there were various challenge-courses, outdoor activities, and group reflections, differing at times in content based on the age group.
When I first met with Marco, one of the directors of the program, he explained to me that a key goal of Caserta was to provoke participants to consider “quienes somos” (who we are) instead of “que sabemos” (what we know), which often tends to be the heavy emphasis in public schools. Given that Caserta also caters to primarily underserved communities in the greater metropolitan area of Santiago, it was really important to provide opportunities to students in mostly urban environments to breathe and move freely in the open air. For me, the most memorable aspect of this internship was witnessing the student participation and reflection on activities that could carry meaning into their personal lives, depending on how it impacted them individually. I worked with an incredibly dedicated and energetic team, which was a core part of my feeling welcome and committed to challenging myself in many ways while in Chile – I’m ever so grateful for having had this opportunity!
Audrey Pan (Middlebury College)
Fundación Caserta is a non-profit organization that works to create a well-rounded and comprehensive education. For this, it implements programs focused on a vision of human development that integrates the corporal, emotional, cognitive and spiritual domains. It works in a systematic way with school communities - management teams, professors, parents and students - of various educational units in the country, privileging those in vulnerable situations. They are inspired by the quote, “To inspire humans to cultivate their well-being and happiness” and work to achieve this goal by continuing to improve their programming.
As an intern, I got the privilege to work with an amazing team of directors, professors, and students. Each week, I accompanied a class to a park outside of the city and taught a valuable lesson to the students. I helped develop programming as well as give feedback each week to strengthen lesson plans. I was also invited to meetings at the office where my voice was heard and my opinion was asked for. The team I worked with did an amazing job of always making me feel welcomed. I was always asked to share my thoughts and although my Spanish isn’t perfect, they encouraged me to speak up and express myself, helping me fill in vocabulary that I didn’t have. I had a wonderful time during this internship and learned important skills such as professionalism, communication, and lesson-plan developing.
Mireille Becerra (Middlebury College)
Municipalidad de Recoleta is a sector of Chilean local-government personnel and an organization that works with various sectors of the community within the bounds of the city Recoleta. The municipality is headed by the mayor Oscar Daniel Jadue Jadue, a child of immigrant parents who focuses primarily on the needs of marginalized sectors of Chilean society. Some of their main activities include holding community council sessions, addressing economic, environmental, and academic requirements, and ensuring that basic resource needs are met among the city. The municipality has many specific offices including, but not limited to, women’s rights, human rights, LGBTQ+ services, and immigration services. I interned at the municipality in the immigration services sector throughout my semester abroad. Many of their daily tasks are focused on proper documentation of immigrants and welcoming new members into the community given that it is one of the poorest and most populated districts in Chile. They offer immigrants Spanish language courses, childcare, food and resource aid, and opportunities for work.
A typical day is slow and based on aiding applicants in the process to apply for work permits, licenses, visas, and legal resident statuses for both children and adults. A strong belief of the office is that no one is illegal – the actions may be so, but they are never unwelcome. Because of this welcoming and safe energy, many times most of the day is spent listening to immigrants tell their stories and explain why they decided to leave their homes in search of a better life. The atmosphere can be heart-wrenching and tear-filled. I spent most of my time being more of a friend than an intern – this work is equally if not more important. Every week I would arrive at the office at 9:00 am and stay until 2:00 pm on Mondays and Thursdays. If I was not helping someone with the application process, I was researching within legislation to investigate whether an immigrants’ rights had been violated during their time in Chile. In doing so, I spent time reading and summarizing the laws so that the office would have a clear, up-to-date understanding of the present laws. This would allow us to empower the individual and create an evidence-based case against the actions and discrimination that the person had faced.
Connor Wertz (Middlebury College)
(Remote internship) Working remotely for the Red Campus Sustentable was an amazing opportunity to learn about the history and culture of Chile while deepening my professional skills, all in a different language! The organization is a network of dozens of universities throughout Chile, who come together to share resources and advice on how to improve their sustainability practices. Because of this, I was able to get a taste of the differences and similarities of Chilean universities and work with supervisors from different areas of the country.
As an intern I worked with two different groups within the organization, each with different styles of management and tasks. For the working group Espacios Naturales, I developed a theoretical framework for the term “espacio natural”, arguing why it functions better than the dominant term “áreas verdes¨. The other group, called Comisión de Compras, was developing a sustainable purchasing policy that will (hopefully) go into effect for all of the participating universities of the network. My task was to research what university systems and colleges across the world have developed their own sustainability purchasing policies, and recommend the best practices that the Red Sustentable could mimic. Every 2 weeks, I’d present my findings to the group. Both tasks were a great mix of independent research and presentation that forced me to develop my writing, reading, and speaking to a degree that a lot of my classes abroad didn’t require. Since it was a remote internship, nothing encapsulates my time spent much more than with my feet up and laptop on, working away in Spain (where I studied abroad while I completed the internship in Chile!)
Kevin Hernandez (Middlebury College)
This semester, I worked with an organization called Red Campus Sustentable, which focuses on helping developing sustainable practices for university campuses. I worked on Mondays and Thursdays each week at the Oficina de Sustentabilidad in UTEM and the Facultad de Economía y Negocios. My main project was to redesign their tool that aids in this objective, called Reporte y Evaluación de la Sustentabilidad de Instituciones de Educación Superior, or RESIES. This tool calculates a score using a series of questions related to a university’s sustainable practices in various categories, such as sustainable culture and sustainability within academia. Their tool existed on Google Sheets and they asked for a version of their tool that works as a stand-alone program.
This task was almost entirely independent in which I decided to design and code the entire tool in XAML and C# through Windows Presentation Foundation. I came into the internship not knowing I would use my computer science background throughout this experience, but it was a welcome one. I taught myself how to use these programming and markup languages to accomplish my task which was daunting at first but allowed me to be self-motivated. Besides my main project, I also attended a series of seminars with RCS where I learned about what affiliated universities in Chile were focusing on to make their campuses more sustainable, such as through water conservation efforts or waste reduction.
Alice Roberts (Middlebury College)
During my semester in Santiago, I worked in communications as an intern for an environmental agency called Red Campus Sustentable that’s goal is to implement sustainable practices and make changes that promote sustainability in the administrations of Chilean universities. I worked every Tuesday and Wednesday 5 hours a day at the Facultad de Economia y Negocios building a communication plan for the organization. My hours were spent learning about the office atmosphere, researching other environmental organizations across the world, researching sustainability at a university level across the world, and analyzing the platforms of communication that RCS has. Throughout the semester I used my research as a basis to evaluate the external and internal communication of RCS and create a communication plan, that consisted of a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats), the specific messages and goals that RCS wants to portray, their ideal audiences, and the strategies and actions that RCS will need to use to better their communication to reach a broader audience. Not only have I learned a lot about what it means to work in the field of communications but what it means to work within a small organization.
During this semester, I was the first person from Middlebury to have this internship I did a lot of work and research that can be used later as a basis for the next person to work in this internship. My tasks included conducting interviews with directors and associates of RCS, analyzing the organization’s website, and researching other environmental organizations to create a SWOT that I later presented during a semiannual meeting with representatives from all the associate organizations and universities and directors of RCS. Following this, I created a list of some of the best players in university sustainability across the world, analyzing their websites and forms of communication to use as a basis for my next task. My final task with RCS was to create a communications strategy plan that the organization based on other plans that I have seen and researched but specialized for RCS. This plan includes definitions of the key messages that RCS wants to communicate and definitions of the direct and indirect audiences of the organization. This also includes strategies and activities that RCS can use to communicate their message and definitions of the communication platforms and how to best use them to reach the most people and bring in new people. There was also other day to day tasks that I completed that included translating the RCS website to English to allow RCS to reach an international audience and research and translate other environmental organizations like AASHE so that the directors at RCS can have a base of information to help them better their company.
Olivia Collens (Middlebury College)
I worked at CoLab, a social innovation laboratory located at the San Joaquin campus of Universidad Catolica. I was involved in the organization of the Alto Impacto program, which acts as a start-up accelerator for specially chosen entrepreneurs, and also researched ways in which the lab could integrate science into their methods. The CoLab team was very friendly and gave excellent guidance. There are many different areas and projects available to work on, so it was important to be self-starting and have a clear idea of the outcomes of the work. Social Innovation is on the rise as it becomes ever more necessary to find holistic solutions to social problems, and CoLab was a great opportunity to surround myself with exciting new ideas and try to contribute to the betterment of society.
Sophie Kapica (Middlebury College)
The CoLab is an organization which serves as an incubator for social innovation in Chile. It located in the Pontifical Catholic University’s Center for Innovation, a very high-tech and modern building. In the CoLab, everyone sits around a communal table in an open office space; there are no walls. It was very different from any work environment I had previously experienced. Through this internship, I learned a lot about the social innovation space, specifically in Chile. I was able to speak and work with innovators in the field, including the CoLab’s leader Sebastian Gatica. The work is fast-paced, and there is never a dull moment.
Specifically, my work entailed helping to create a prototype for a Latin American social innovation platform. I worked with a Chilean intern as well as the CoLab’s director, Sebastian. The work was very open-ended, and the other intern, Cris, and I often had to think outside the box to figure out the best way to complete the project. Additionally, I worked to create evaluation metrics for social businesses, which had been part of the CoLab’s social entrepreneurship competition, Alto Impacto. Lastly, I helped translate the CoLab’s website from Spanish into English.
Overall, the best aspect of my internship was being able to get to know a group of really smart, caring, and welcoming Chileans. I truly enjoyed getting to spend time with the CoLab team and getting to know them better. While many of my classes had other international students, which made it hard to get to know Chileans, my internship was an amazing opportunity to make friends with other Chileans.
Arantxa Gallegos (Wellesley College)
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 sought 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.
Micaela Palermo (Wellesley College)
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!
Erica Van Sciver (Bates College)
EXPLORA is a non-profit organization devoted to promoting a culture of science and technology across Chile, especially among students. Their goal is to provide fun, educational opportunities outside of the classroom by organizing events such as debates, museum expositions, and science fairs. My responsibilities were varied, depending on the day and the project I was working on. Day-to-day I would assist with the coordination of any events-whether it meant working as a monitor for a neuroscience exhibition at La Moneda or calling schools across Santiago to invite them to participate in a debate. I also had larger projects that I worked on over a longer period of time. I helped organize a city-wide science fair for high school students, primarily by coordinating the review of their projects by professionals in science and tech-oriented fields. I also pursued my own independent project of organizing an excursion for a group of Santiago high school students. Working in conjunction with the Valparaíso-based (and Middlebury-founded) organization Manos Verdes, we brought a group of 45 students to Quintay to learn about the science of coastal ecosystems. This internship provided me with wonderful opportunities to work both in and outside of the office setting. I would recommend an internship with EXPLORA particularly for people who are interested in education and/or STEM-related fields.
Alex Kucich (Carleton College)
My internship was with a research team from the Department of Forestry Sciences at the Universidad de la Frontera in Temuco. The team was made up of professors and researchers from the university working with specialists from the Chilean forest service CONAF (Corporación Nacional Forestal) to revise official statistics on the distribution of the iconic tree species Araucaria araucana in the regions of La Araucanía, Bío Bío and Los Ríos. My job within the internship was to conduct a complementary research project about the socioenvironental history of Araucaria araucana in three “comunas” in the andean cordillera, focusing on the history of deforestation due to forest fires, timber exploitation and pasture generation, to contribute a social science perspective to the research team’s project. My research process included interviews in the field, revision of secondary sources, research of primary historical sources, and frequent meetings with the members of the research team. I also accompanied professors on their trips to the field to continue their independent research projects there, which typically centered on various elements of forest ecology and cartography. In addition to providing valuable experience working within a research team in a university setting and conducting in-depth historical research, this internship gave me a singular perspective on the environmental history of Chile, and the regional history of La Araucanía.
Trevor Livingston (Middlebury College)
This semester I interned with the Corporación Nacional Forestal, better known as CONAF. This organization is essentially the forest service of Chile, with a broad and helpful influence all over the country. The work I did with this organization consisted of a few parts: one was installing and maintaining trap cameras in certain areas in national parks, monitoring for key species and trying to gauge the overall health of the forest in these zones. This allowed me to travel to some incredible places to maintain these cameras and monitor animals like the Puma.
The second part of my work was putting together a water management plan for a preserved wetland north of Valdivia. I was tasked with determining the appropriate water quality variables to measure, how and how frequently to measure them, and determine what was a normal level. I then gave a presentation to the Guardas, who worked in the field and would be taking these measurements, detailing why they are important and what methods they would be using to do so.
Sam Graf (Middlebury College)
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 and 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.
Alitzel Villanueva (Middlebury College)
During my semester abroad in Chile I interned with the Corporación Nacional Forestal (CONAF). This private organization works with the Chilean government to advance the sustainable management and growth of many different environmental facets in Chile such as conservation of ecosystems. My worked focused on the monitoring and protection of a nearby wetland in Valdivia, el Santuario de la Naturaleza Carlos Anwandter. In this wetland, I helped with the formation of a monitoring program to track the populations of invasive mink and native otters over time. I learned about methods of population control and how to track the presence of these animals as well as the importance and management of wetlands throughout the world and in Chile. Through this internship, I was able to visit this beautiful wetland and realize how integral citizen participation is in conservation work, especially when executing monitoring programs that require a lot of manpower in a short amount of time. I gained a lot from this internship knowledge and skill wise, I am grateful to have had the unique chance to experience the reality of environmental work in Latin America.
Max Butler (Oberlin College)
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) 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.
Simone Schriger (Bates College)
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.
La Conservación Marina
Erin Birdsall (Middlebury College)
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 flamingos, 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.
Kasey Mazzone (Middlebury College)
My internship was split in half. For the first two weeks, I did research on sustainable practices in higher education around the world, using the resource GreenMetric, for Red Campus Sustentable. I created presentations that provided profiles of 7 schools, including basic characteristics (public/private, urban/rural, etc.). Then, I researched 3 sustainability projects from each school. The underlying theme of the projects was environmental conservation; some examples include solar panel installations, virtual greenhouses, and reusing wastewater. In addition to this research, I translated an academic paper from English to Spanish. For the last two weeks, I helped translate parts of El Parque Urbano El Bosque’s website and educational infographics from Spanish to English. In addition, I researched scholarship and grant opportunities in which El Parque could apply. Even though my internship was remote, I still enjoyed the experience because not only did I meet and work for great people, but I also learned a lot about Chile through the culture classes Middlebury provided.
Dorothy Punderson (Middlebury College)
This semester I worked with Parque Urbano el Bosque, a 12-ha park in Valdivia that encompasses a wetland and the native Valdivian temperate forest ecosystem. The park focuses on environmental education through workshops open to the public, school visits and other educational materials. Working with Parque Urbano el Bosque was a great way to learn about the ecology of the Valdivian temperate forest as well as environmental education and private conservation in Chile in general. During the first part of my internship I compiled a list of species in the park using existing surveys and a field guide to urban nature reserves of Valdivia. I also corrected the English translations of species descriptions in the field guide. During the second half of the semester, I designed a poster of fungi of Valdivia with the help of the park’s graphic designer and a Sustainable Study Abroad Grant from Middlebury. The project is part of a series of posters of the flora, fauna and fungi in the city’s green spaces that Parque Urbano is creating.
Emily French (Middlebury College)
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.
Avery Kaplan (Wesleyan University)
While studying at Universidad Austral in Valdivia, Chile, I spent a fulfilling 5 months interning for the university’s environmental management unit (la UGA). My internship was within la UGA’s office of communications where I worked alongside journalist, Verónica Ruiz Paredes.
My principal role was to publicize the month of recycling in May and create material for the campaign to reduce paper use on campus. I created four videos focused on this theme that ranged from recommendations for more sustainable office practices to virtual tours of the university’s waste processing plant. I also helped to organize four paper making workshops. The first workshop was sponsored by us but led by a retired professor of forestry who now makes artisanal paper full time. It was such a hit that we organized two workshops for the recycling fair at the end of May, and one more for Chilean arbor day at the end of June. With the help of the Middlebury sustainability grant, we were able to purchase our own paper making tools so that la UGA can continue holding paper making workshops well into the future.
Mara Gans (Middlebury College)
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 volcanoes that create rhyolite lavas and about some of the general geology of Chile.
Jack Carew (Middlebury College)
This semester, I had the fabulous opportunity to complete an internship at CESFAM Barón, on Cerro Barón in Valparaíso. Community health in Chile is supported primarily through a promotion and prevention model, with the medical treatment of conditions relegated to the elites and small middle-class. Thus, the vast majority of the population is served by a network of public health centers offering workshops and educational sessions, as well as general consultations; the most prolific type of center is the CESFAM, or Centro de Salud Familiar. Interning at this health center exposed me to a populace I may not have encountered had I not interacted with them on a weekly basis at CESFAM. My work with CESFAM Barón can be divided into two categories: observing various workshops and supporting the efforts of a group working to recuperate an ex-police station. Perhaps most significantly, this internship widened my understanding of healthcare in action. Whereas before this experience, healthcare usually called to mind doctors and nurses bandaging and operating on patients, I now look back to various visions from my semester here helping to lead a stretching and me[n]tal agility workshop for seniors or talking to citizens about their memories of their neighborhood, for example. Additionally, this internship helped me to further contextualize the lessons about Chilean history we learned in the complementary culture class.
Carolyn Pine (Kenyon College)
My time interning at CESFAM (Centro de Salud Familiar) Barón helped me gain perspective on what health means in the broader sense of the word. The center’s inherent values that health should be communal and holistic distinguish it from the American system. While it offers health, social, and mental health services, CESFAM also places emphasis on community involvement, supporting its belief that healthy people are a symptom of a healthy community. An aspect that I enjoyed seeing was doctors take off their white coats after their shifts and take part in workshops and meetings. My role as an intern revolved around promoting well-being through community participation. I routinely participated in workshops regarding both cognitive memory and community memory.
My main focus was my involvement with la corporación COMI (comunidad, memoria e integración territorial) which is comprised of CESFAM employees as well as other community members who are trying to declare the ex-police station next to the CESFAM a site of memory because it served as a site of detention and torture during the Pinochet dictatorship. Additionally, they are hoping the space can be used for community conversation, engagement, and togetherness. My fellow program mate Jack, were given the role of promoting COMI. We did this through creating a website with video content that included in depth interviews with COMI members about the history, context, and importance of the movement. In just 4 months, I felt integrated into the community of Barón. I am grateful I got to spend my time supporting such a vital grassroots movement.
Annabelle Fischer (Colby College)
My internship at CESFAM Mena has been an incredible way to complete clinical practice as well as gain an understanding of the Chilean public healthcare system. On Mondays, I worked with the kinesiologists and the occupational therapists in a rehabilitation workshop with older adults to reduce the risk of arthritis, injuries as a result of falling, and cardiovascular illnesses among others. My tasks included ensuring that the workshop exercises were being performed correctly and were inclusive of all the potential risk factors in this population and learning about the exercises that would be most effective in recuperating full movement of the injured joint, muscle or tendon, which often included examining an MRI or x-ray and discussing with the patient their levels of pain in certain positions. On Wednesdays, I observed physicians in routine physicals and consultations regarding chronic illnesses. During these sessions, I was able to apply what I had learned in my Nursing courses at the Universidad Andrés Bello about how to take vital signs, what they show about the patient’s physiology, and how they, in addition to all treatment plans and presentation of signs/symptoms, differ according to age.
In fact, one of my most treasured aspects of my experience at CESFAM Mena was in observing these physicians. Fortunately, I was able to build a unique friendship with two doctors who had recently immigrated to Chile from Venezuela and Cuba to work as primary care physicians. In being young female foreigners involved in the medical field, it was incredible how well we were able to empathize with one another and create a special bond in this new country we now called home. Between discussing how they were assimilating into Chilean culture and watching them interact with patients as well as other Chilean doctors, I was beginning to realize that there was a harsh reality in racism among immigrant physicians in CESFAM, and potentially the public healthcare system in general. I decided to further investigate this theory for my final project and, in further realizing its reality, was able to make suggestions to CORMUVAL, the governing body of CESFAM and a major actor in the public healthcare system, on how to education patients and healthcare workers in order to allow physicians to be regarded based on their knowledge, character, and professionalism instead of the country in which they were born. In this way, my internship at CESFAM Mena allowed me to identify a problem, take direct action, and present an opportunity for betterment of the system.
Kelly Kuehl (St. Norbert College)
This semester, I was lucky enough to work in Consultorio Marcelo Mena through CESFAM, or Centro de Salud Familiar, a clinic within the public health system here in Valparaíso. My work here consisted of two parts: working with the social workers in attending and organizing public health workshops and observing the health professionals in various sectors of the clinic. While working with the social workers, I was able to learn about the various health concerns that are common in Valparaíso and how they are connected to other social issues. This really helped me put into context the health issues I was observing in my work with the other health professionals and gave me a more well-rounded view of the healthcare system as a whole. Also, as a part of my final project, I helped organize and intercultural fair at the clinic designed to help bring greater awareness to the cultural diversity found in the community and provide inmigrantes an opportunity to learn more about their health care rights.
In my work observing the medical professionals, I was able to spend time in each sector of the clinic, including nutritionists, nurses, matronas, treatment and curation, vaccinations, and general practice with the doctors. In addition, I went on several outings in the community, both on house visits with the nurses and physical therapists and to pop up clinics with an entire team of medical workers. This gave me the incredible opportunity not only to learn more about medicine but also to be able to know people and areas of Valparaiso that I would never have had the opportunity to otherwise. I gained so much from my time at the clinic. Not only did it increase my medical knowledge and ability to communicate in Spanish, but it was fundamental in helping me develop my ideas about medicine and the healthcare system, what sort of role I want to have within it, and what sort of values I want to advocate in my practice. CESFAM has made me so excited to enter into the medical field and I could not be more grateful for my time there!
Charlotte Bichet (Middlebury College)
This semester I had the opportunity to do an internship at the family health center (CESFAM) of Playa Ancha, a suburb of Valparaíso, Chile. Under the supervision of members of the center, in particular a social worker, I have helped in different capacities, in particular to organize a workshop for immigrants on public health in Chile. In addition to this weekly workshop, I shadowed different professionals including nurses, doctors, and EMTs. Additionally, as my supervisor was also the administrative assistant of the center, I helped with the corporate side of the center, most frequently responding to claims and felicitations of the CESFAM that members of the community had made.
Mira Michels-Gualtieri (Vassar College)
This semester, I had the incredible opportunity to intern at the CESFAM Quebrada Verde, a Familiar and Community Health Center located in Valparaíso that serves 36,000 people. As someone pursuing a career in medicine, it was a fascinating lens into how public and integrated healthcare works, especially in a country where 80% use the public system. I spent my days at the clinic observing a variety of medical professionals, ranging from physical therapists to doctors to social workers to nurses to matronas. I loved how every day at the CESFAM was different: some days I would help kinesiologists run exercise workshops to help the elderly improve their balance, other days I would go on house visits with nurses, and sometimes I would observe doctors in the respiratory or gynecological units. This gave me the incredible opportunity not only to learn more about integrated and family medicine but also to be able to meet people pursuing careers that interested me. Not only did it increase my medical knowledge and Spanish vocabulary, but the experience shaped my ideas about healthcare, the role I want to have within it, and what sort of values I want to advocate for in my career.
When the semester started, I shared how I would like to have my internship relate to reproductive health. Though the laws around abortion in Chile changed in 2017 to allow the procedure in three circumstances, no one had yet had the opportunity in my CESFAM to develop a protocol for the care and transport of individuals in need to a higher level of care. During the semester, with the help of my supervisor and the other contacts I made, I worked to develop that protocol. I’m excited to share it will shortly be approved in all of the CESFAMs of Valparaíso, which provides care to some 220,000 people.
Anna Durning (Middlebury College)
Over the course of my semester-long internship at the Corporación Municipal de Valparaíso, or Cormuval, I learned about environmental education initiatives by creating and analyzing a city-wide survey of environmental programs in public schools and by working once a week at a preschool with an ecological focus.
On the administrative side of the internship,Preschoolers sit at brightly colored tables eating pieces of fruit most of my work was focused on designing and analyzing the survey. Based on similar reports from previous Middlebury interns, the survey data allowed me to create an evaluation of how the schools’ environmental programs have changed over time. For example, some schools were able to expand their internal recycling programs to accept additional materials from their neighbors while other schools had held a drive to collect plastic bottles for an art project but then did not continue with any recycling-related activities the following year. I also accompanied my supervisor to visit a few of the schools to check in on their programming or to help design a new plan of action regarding environmental initiatives.
During my time at the preschool, I got to help out in the classroom for 2-4 year-olds and learn about the environmental initiatives that the school had already implemented, such as creating a small garden on the patio and incorporating toys made from wood instead of plastic. I was able to use a Sustainable Study Abroad Grant from Middlebury to introduce a vermicomposting system in the school and lead a series of activities for the kids to learn about the how vermicomposting works and about the importance of minimizing waste products.
Claire Tattersfield (University of Vermont)
The focus of my internship was environmental studies programs and environmentally-friendly initiative in Valparaíso’s public schools. My internship had two parts in which I worked every week: one being in Cormuval, the administrative office of public schools; and the other part in la Escuela Hernán Olguín, a public primary school here in the city.
At Cormuval I was able to attend meetings concerning environmental certification, and I worked throughout the semester to create a spreadsheet documenting all environmental initiatives in all 52 schools in the city. By “environmental initiatives” I mean recycling campaigns, gardens, workshops for healthy living, etc.
Upper elementary schools students stand outside near a slated schoolyard fence where they are hanging planters made from plastic bottles.
In the school in which I worked, every week at the beginning of the semester (since it was winter) I taught a lesson indoors on environmental themes, like pollution, geology, and climate change. Once the weather started to turn and spring arrived I helped the kids plant seeds and flowers in the school’s garden, or clean the gardens of litter or weeds.
At the end of the semester I did two final projects for each part of my internship. I was able to finalize my document for Cormuval that incorporated a similar study from a few years ago. The office will be able to reference it and see how environmental programs have grown over the past few years. In my school on my last day my students made flower pots out of recycled bottles that they hung around the school as a vertical garden. The school is in the city and so they have very limited green space. In laying the groundwork for a vertical garden, they’ll be able to expand upon it in the coming years and provide more resources and green space to grow herbs and flowers on the school grounds.
Abigail McCeney (Middlebury College)
This semester I had the opportunity of working with Corporación Municipal de Valparaíso (Cormuval) in their environmental education sector. My internship was divided into two parts. The first consisted of more comprehensive office work where I read through evaluations completed by teachers from each environmental education program in the public schools of Valparaíso, overseen by Cormuval. With the information I collected I created a diagnostic synthesis report for the organization evaluating the programs that currently exist and providing suggestions for the future.
The second part of my internship took place in an environmental workshop at a public high school in Valparaíso. Once a week I went and shadowed the teacher in charge of the workshop, helping Newly planted plants rest in pine board planters and colorfully painted tires mounted against the blue wall of a school building.facilitate projects such as maintaining an herbal garden in the patio of the school, building benches with tree planters, painting and planting recycled tires, etc. Towards the end of the semester I prepared my own lesson and project, using a Middlebury Sustainability School’s Abroad Grant, to teach and build vertical herb gardens from recycled bottles. Spending time with both the municipality and students in a school setting provided me with insight from two different lens into the environmental education system in Chile.
English Teaching Program - Universidad de Playa Ancha
Sophia Nieves (Middlebury College)
(Remote internship) In this remote internship, I worked with another college student from the Universidad de Playa Ancha in Chile to co-teach courses in English. There was a total of twenty-five students enrolled in this course from both Valparaiso and Santiago. The ages of the participants ranged from 12 to 50 years old and were teachers, student, and other
professionals from two elementary schools. The students were divided into three groups based off of their English level. The groups met ten times each across a four-week period.
The English Teaching Program does not have a specific curriculum or certain proficiency goals that the students have to complete by the end of the course. In this way, interns are to design the course however they see fit. I had to be very creative to create a curriculum tailored to the indiviudal competences of each group of students, along with fun
and engaging activities to practice the material both inside and outside the classroom. Along with the work you have to put in during actual class hours, it is necessary to do a lot of
preparation outside the classes.
Diana McLeod (Middlebury College)
This semester I had the opportunity to intern at IDEAfactory, a small marketing firm that focuses on strategic design, solving the problems of their clients through design and innovation. IDEAfactory has a diverse clientele, which means that the firm works in a variety of fields including architecture, construction, graphic design, textiles, and advertising, providing branding and coaching services. Due to this diversity and the fact that the firm is composed of less than 10 people, they often collaborate with other businesses. While I was interning, the team was working on projects such as a tourism campaign in a fishing town called Pichidangui; a map/ campaign to help promote the region of Valparaíso as a filming location; and a redesign of the offices and cafeteria at el Centro de Conferencias Técnicas Aplicadas (CCTA) in Chilquinta.
During my time at IDEAfactory, the small size of the company was conducive to a very relaxed environment where my supervisor gave me a lot of autonomy and flexibility. Early on I expressed interest in social media and social media marketing and I ended up primarily working in this field. This was a wonderful learning opportunity for me as I was also taking a class on social media and communication at my university (la Universidad Adolfo Ibáñez, aka la UAI). What I learned in class complemented my research and projects at IDEAfactory and vice versa. My first project involved creating a general social media marketing plan for businesses in Chile. This required doing a lot of research on trends in social media marketing, social media in Chile, and just social media in general. The project culminated in an infographic, which IDEAfactory will use to assist clients looking to improve their social media presence. Additionally, I worked with the company’s own social media accounts, conducting a social media audit to bring the accounts to date and to then create a social media strategy for the firm. Apart from these projects, I collaborated on a guide to the creative industry in Valparaíso. This involved sitting in on a meeting and contributing ideas to the initial formatting of the guide, as well as translating texts to English and visiting and photographing some of the featured businesses. Overall, my time at IDEAfactory not only allowed me to learn from my research, but also taught me about the functioning of a Chilean firm within the business and marketing world. This made the internship an incredibly valuable experience for me as I hope to pursue a career in marketing and don’t have the opportunity to study the subject at Middlebury College.
Sergiu White (Middlebury College)
(Remote internship) I spent my time in the Education Department of the National History Museum of Valparaíso, where we designed a program that allows students to become authorities on the museum and sustainability. Additionally, the program takes into account limitations caused by the current COVID19 pandemic by considering how to be flexible when promoting environmental awareness outside of the museum’s walls. The program presents classrooms with the opportunity to use the virtual museum tool to investigate and present on social media about either an object, exhibition, or room in the museum. The students will consider important questions like how their chosen subject can influence or be influenced by environmental issues and how it can connect to the concept of sustainability. The education department hopes that this program can help cultivate student interest in the environment through the use of technology they are familiar with and cultivate more personal relationships between the institution and the community.
While Covid19 made it challenging to experience the museum normally, the pandemic presented an opportunity for me to learn how to be flexible, especially in my beliefs regarding children’s education. I had the opportunity to speak with many people experienced in this field and learn how to adapt my ideas about education to what younger generations of students find engaging. Thus, I hope that this program, which is set to release sometime in March, will be able to help make this disruption in life a bit easier. Additionally, I hope that both the museum and I will be more prepared to promote educational initiatives during future life disturbing events with the tools and ideas we have developed together.
Hannah Gokaslan (Middlebury College)
During my semester in Chile, I had the opportunity to intern at the Natural History Museum of Valparaíso, an interactive museum that has a wonderful permanent exhibition on the flora and fauna in the X region of Chile as well as rotating ones highlighting the human history and heritage of the area. In addition to the exhibitions, the museum hosts educational events for the community as well as environmental workshops for children of all ages that visit the museum with their classes. I spent time in various departments of the museum which gave me an overview of what goes on behind the scenes from multiple perspectives.
In the Archeology Department, I helped with the preparation of an exhibition for Tapati, a Rapa Nui festival, mounting and cleaning the traditional clothing and pieces that make up the temporary exhibit as well as adding to the inventory of the museum’s collection. I also worked in the museum’s reading room where I talked to visitors about the resources we had to offer and helped with various tasks both there and in the scientific library of the museum. With the Education Department, I accompanied guided tours run by Chilean students studying Ecotourism who also interned at the museum. We toured the museum’s permanent exhibition and talked to the students about the natural history of Valparaíso. I was also able to observe workshops about conservation run by the department and attend a few special events at the museum during the weekends such as a Day of the Oceans and Night at the Museum.
My internship with the museum was a highlight of my semester abroad. I learned about the history of the region where I was living and became part of a community in Chile. The people who work at the museum are incredibly welcoming and helped me learn about the topics that most interested me, making the experience personalized, educational, and fun.
Sarah Padgett (Wesleyan University)
In the Natural History Museum of Valparaíso, I split my time between the archeological department and the educational department. In the archeology department, I helped with the classification of historical pieces by taking measurements of arrowheads, taking inventories of pottery and spears, and entering the information into excel documents. In the educational department, I helped with the children’s workshops. For the majority of the semester, I helped set up the space and observed the workshops, but at the end of the experience, I was able to create and execute my own workshop about the environment. This workshop included an activity in which the children could explore biological species (seashells, a taxidermied owl, and a taxidermied rabbit), a reading of a story that I wrote about the environment, and a time for the children to illustrate ideas of how we can help the environment.
The museum gives visitors an adventure-like interactive learning experience and is very well organized. It also hosted many events that taught me so much about the history of the region and the different species that live there. Moreover, the friendliness and enthusiasm of everyone who works at the museum made it a very positive work environment. Overall, I had a great experience.
Rebecca Freeman (Middlebury College)
During my internship at the Museum of Natural History, I spent time familiarizing myself with the museum- the space, the employees, and the different types of work conducted there. The museum is small but very well designed and dynamic, and the employees are all passionate about the privilege of conserving and showing the V region’s biodiversity and culture.
Half of the internship consists of getting to know the museum and interacting with the public, and half realizing a specific project related to your interests that will benefit the museum. The public aspect included assisting guiding tours of the museum for groups of elementary school children. I also attended several interesting museum guest lectures and workshops. For my project, I collaborated with the science department to develop a proposal and procedure for creating a DNA bank of the museum’s organisms, if they achieve this it will be the first of its kind in South America!
Tyler Fuller (Bates College)
I interned with PUCV Sostenible, working to implement sustainability initiatives at Pontificia Universisdad Católica de Valparaíso in an effort to create a more sustainable culture at the university. During my internship, most of my time was spent on two campaigns related to the school’s waste management. For the first campaign, we introduced plastic bottle compactors in order to reduce the environmental impact of plastic consumed by the university community. Then the second campaign was an effort to reduce the contamination of cigarette butts on the campus through the installation of cigarette butt containers. In this campaign we worked with an exploratory company called IMEKO, based out of Valparaíso whose goal is to use new technology to recycle cigarette butts. The central focus of both campaigns was determining the best ways to communicate information about sustainability initiatives and then effectively executing communicational strategies.
For the final part of my internship I was tasked with creating a report, comprehensively describing what PUCV Sostenible had accomplished during my four and a half months working with them. The report included everything from a breakdown of the waste management problems at the university to an extensive detailing of the individual campaigns. The intention of the report is to have formal documentation of my internship in an accessible form that will allow future interns to gain a helpful informational base before starting their own internship experience. The report was a great way for me to reflect on what I did and officially conclude my internship.
Helene Sudac (Bates College)
During my semester in Valparaíso, I had the opportunity to have an internship at PIE Pablo Neruda, one of the many organizations that are part of Servicios de Paz y Justicia (SERPAJ). The organization is dedicated to protecting the rights of children and youth, especially those living in a high-risk family situation. At my internship, I worked with kids in homework help, assisted some of the school and home visits with my colleagues, made analyses of drawings, attended weekly meetings, and helped participate in a workshop. Most of my work was focused on the analyses and the workshop. From the drawings done by kids who come to the center, I was able to use books of reference to “dissect” the drawings and analyze them. For example, depending on where the figure was placed in the sheet of paper, the size, or even the level of pressure of shading could alter the meaning and significance. I used many books in Spanish about psychology and drawings as references to help me.
The other main part of my work consisted in participating and helping out in a workshop created by 4 of the tutors in the center. We planned six sessions that consisted of ice breakers, an activity, and games. The activity tended to help the participants think toward their future, for example one week we made “un árbol de deseos” (a tree of desires or wishes) where the participants wrote down their hopes and goals for the future. On some days, I also visited schools and homes with some of my colleagues or I would assist in homework help for some of the students who came to the center. Every Wednesday we had our weekly meeting, which helped provide context for the new youth who were joining the center. Apart from all of this, I was able to know the wonderful and dedicated people who work in the center through our weekly meetings and lunches together.
Julia Lejeune (Wesleyan University)
This semester I had the privilege to complete an internship at the organization Servicios de Paz y Justicia (Services for Peace and Justice) specifically at a sub-sector of the organization called PIE Pablo Neruda, which is a center for integrated family intervention focused on protecting the rights of children and adolescents living in vulnerable and high-risk family situations. The team is made up of psychologists, social workers and tutors who work together to conduct individual and family interventions, home and school visits, and psycho-educational workshops. At PIE, my routine involved a lot of learning, specifically through sitting in on weekly team meetings, occasionally assisting with home and shelter visits, and designing my own series of workshops for the adolescents at the center.
My supervisor gave me the opportunity to independently propose, design and lead a weekly series of workshops on themes of gender and sexism. Along with another student intern, I designed dynamic activities and discussion questions to tackle these difficult topics. Each week had a distinct theme, for example: the social construction of gender, sexism in school and in the workplace, healthy relationships, and gender-related violence. Running these groups was a great opportunity for me to enhance my language and leadership skills, and to learn about the common conceptualizations of gender and sexism that exist among Chilean adolescents. It was also very interesting to conduct these groups within the context of PIE, as many of the interventions conducted there are directly related to instances of gender-related abuse and violence within a family. For this reason, the theme of the workshops felt especially important, as I was engaging the adolescents in critical discussions about discrimination and violence, hopefully helping them to find their voices and recognize their rights to equal treatment and care.
Julia Shumlin (Middlebury College)
This semester I completed an internship at the Servicio de Paz y Justicia (SERPAJ) in a subsection of their organization called PIE Pablo Neruda. PIE Pablo Neruda assembles teams of psychologists, social workers and tutors to offer support to youth in high-risk situations such as familial violence or substance abuse. The support teams carry out their work with the participants by way of individual and family sessions in the office, home visits, and occasional informative workshops. All of the participants received a court mandate to participate in the program.
My job within the organization was to run weekly workshops on gender studies and sexism. My supervisor gave me a lot of autonomy with the project, so I was able to plan and execute the workshops independently. The workshops took place over the course of six sessions, each focusing on a particular theme related to sexism. Some of those themes were: the learned elements of gender identity; sexism in education, in work environments, and in relationships. Because many of the participants were not able to attend every workshop, the participants changed every week. Even so, I was able to establish continuity with some of the participants who came several times to the workshops, and these participants especially showed huge growth in the ways that they conceptualize gender and sexism. Although it was a challenge at times to make the workshops both engaging to and relevant for the participants, I ended up not only learning a lot about sexism in Chile, but also feeling that the workshops were enacting positive change in the lives and education of the participants.
Jonah Watt (Bowdoin College)
This semester, I completed an internship with Explora Valparaíso, an organization that works to bring science and technology education and programming to the Valparaíso region. Explora organizes programming for students, such as the national week of science, science fairs, and different exhibits that the program brings to classrooms, and also organizes talks, exhibits, and other programming through the region for people of all ages. For the first half of my internship, I worked on the communications side of the organization, writing Tweets, helping to coordinate meetings, and I even emceeing the inauguration of an exhibition at a local museum on my second day with the organization.
The bulk of my internship was spent designing and executing a survey on the social perception of science and technology in Hijuelas and Nogales, two neighboring comunas an hour to the interior of Valparaíso. I adapted a survey that was conducted on the national level to these two comunas, and I conducted over 300 surveys over three separate days with a team of nine students from la Católica. Afterwards, I worked with a statistician from la Católica to analyze the data, which I ultimately shared with the office in order to find ways better engage with the people of Hijuelas and Nogales. This survey opportunity not only provided me with a great level of independence and professional development, but it also exposed me to a different side of Chile and allowed me to listen and learn from the people who live there.
Mikaela Gillman (University of Michigan)
This semester I had the opportunity to do my internship at La Escuela Municipal de Bellas Artes. La Escuela is a municipal art school in Valparaiso located on Calle Camila in Cerro La Loma. Students at La Escuela work toward a degree in fine arts. The students must complete eight semesters to complete their degree in Sculpture, printmaking or painting. Additionally, the school offers classes in drawing, sculpture, printmaking, art history, esthetic, composition, cultural management and technology of materials, all of which are required of the students so that they have a background in studies outside of their area of focus. La Escuela is small and lacks sufficient funding as all funding for the school comes from the municipality. Therefore, as an intern, I had a lot of autonomy and was able to play a very active role in the school.
As is expected when working in the arts, my role as an intern was not extremely structured. I had three projects as an intern at La Escuela Municipal de Bellas Artes. My first was to connect the school to the world, the second was to connect the school to the community and the third was to lead English classes for the students. As is evident, the first two projects were very broad and I had a lot of input on how I would go about carrying out the projects. For me that was how I learned the most. I could choose how to go about completing my projects and when I was finished with them. I ended up setting up an art therapy workshop at a local hospital lead by one of the students. Additionally I set up an exchange with the San Francisco Art Institute and 10 students from California will be arriving in January to visit. As someone who is interested in the arts, I loved getting to work with such creative people. I also really felt that my work had value and that I was needed as an intern at La Escuela.
Anna Mei Gubbins (Davidson College)
This semester, I had the privilege of working at the Escuela República Argentina in Valparaíso, Chile. I was a teacher’s aid for two separate workshops about environmental studies (5-8th grade and 2-4th grade). The students were avid learners and it was a joy to work with them.
I helped plant seeds, built a large planter box made from donated wooden palettes, and wrote and designed the set for a play about saving the environment that the 2-4th graders performed. I also attended both of the weekly workshops where we would have a section of reading-based work and then break into smaller groups to put the new information into action. For example, one day we read about recycling, and that day the students washed out the plastic bottles in the waste bins and properly sorted them into the recycling bins.
Manos Verdes/Escuela Pacífico
Claudia von Nostitz (Wesleyan University)
I’ve had the privilege of interning with the Middlebury-founded organization, Manos Verdes, for the last few weeks, working with fourth graders from Escuela Pacífico, a local community elementary school, in an after school sustainability and environmental program. We are working to teach the students the foundations of sustainable living, recycling, and green conscientiousness.
I have worked extensively on studying the pedagogical methodology of lesson plan construction, resulting in the implementation of a field trip with Escuela Pacífico to a local cost so that the students could contextualize the theoretical lessons learned inside the classroom in an outdoor, hands-on, exploratory experience. This lesson consisted of exploratory observation and a written and artistic based activity, incorporating themes of sustainability. Through the investigation of ways to incorporate tactile styles of learning into through artistic expression, I have learned that environmental studies can be conducted with much more efficacy and leave long lasting impressions on the students when integrated with artistic teaching styles and strategies. In terms of tactile or plastic artistic expression, there arises a very real way of reinforcing the themes of sustainability lessons through the execution of tactile, hands-on learning. Through artistic education, students will have a way to contextualize and directly relate to themes of recycling, constructing, maintaining, and interacting with nature and the environment.
Estefania Hecht-Toltl (Haverford College)
The Museum of Memory and Human Rights (Museo de la Memoria y Derechos Humanos — MMDH) is a museum dedicated to the history and memory of human rights violations that were committed in Chile during the Pinochet dictatorship between 1973 and 1991. The Museum of Memory and Human Rights deviates from the typical museum, by providing the public with the necessary information to understand the various aspects of human rights and the space to reflect about Chile’s past. The museum seeks to create a space of solidarity, learning, and commemoration of the lives violated during the Pinochet dictatorship, through the use of historical archives, a center of education, and their exhibitions.
The internship with the Center of Documentation (el Centro de Documentación — CEDOC) provides interns with the opportunity to work with a collection of archives related in some way to the human rights violations committed by the Chilean state between 1973 and 1991. During the fall semester of 2014, I worked with a collection of archives from the provincial police of Buenos Aires, Argentina (el Servicio de Informaciones de la Policía de Provincia de Buenos Aires — el SIPBA), to continue the register of names and information in an Excel sheet started by a previous intern. The majority of the information previously recorded focused on exiles and refugees who had arrive in Argentina from Chile, following the military coup of 1973. I focused heavily on the clippings from local and international newspapers saved by the SIPBA.
Internship projects will vary based on the needs of museums. Other interns develop research papers based on topics of interest to the museum. Projects will most likely coincide with the focus of the upcoming exhibits that will appear at the museum. It is not required that interns know about the history of Chile, but it would be helpful for internships to read the museum website beforehand. The website provides a good summary of what it offers and what its aims.
Annalise Carrington (Middlebury College)
This semester I worked with a local non-profit called Corporación Laguna Verde (CLV) based in Valparaíso, Chile. CLV works to connect children, their families, and the greater community of Valparaíso with the unique flora and fauna of Chile’s central region. By providing opportunities for the people of Valparaíso to engage with their local environment, CLV hopes to promote an appreciation for, and ultimately a desire to protect, this ecologically important region.
This is an incredibly dynamic internship. Carlos and Paulina (the co-heads of CLV) are often involved in several projects at once, and it seems that each semester brings something new. The main projects this semester included: processing the Biodiversity Risk and Opportunity Assessment (BROA) in conjunction with Biodiversity International in selected tobacco plantations managed by British-American Tobacco in Chile and planning and organizing el Primer Encuentro de la Red de Pequeños Ornitólogos, an educational seminar for schoolchildren in the Valparaíso region focused on the native and endemic birds of Chile. Other long-term projects include work in a native plant nursery managed by Paulina’s father, and organizing and leading outings with la Red de Pequeños Ornitólogos, a bird watching group catered to local kids and their families. If nothing else, I would recommend this internship to learn from Carlos and Paulina, two incredibly inspiring and passionate people in the environmental sector in Valparaíso.
Maya Gómez (Middlebury College)
This semester I had the pleasure of working at the National Botanical Garden in Viña del Mar, Chile. The internship was one of the most positive experiences of my study abroad. It brought me some amazing learning opportunities and fantastic friends. Also, I really valued the opportunity to that is gave me to escape from the city of Valparaíso and spend time in such a serene and green space.
I worked as part of the Environmental Education team and my day to day really varied. Sometimes I would travel with the education team to schools to lead workshops with our “Jardín Viajero” and other times schools would come to the garden for tours and gardening workshops. I would also spend some time preparing for these workshops and tending to the organic garden within the Botanical Garden. Some days I would head to the garden’s laboratory to learn about the research going on. The investigator specialized in Chilean orchids and is studying the relationships between the different species found on their roots.
I also received the Study Abroad Sustainability Grant from Middlebury, so a lot of my time was devoted to developing a compost system for the garden. This included the implementation of a vermicompost and a three bin compost system. The compost system will not only help to facilitate the recycling of organic materials, but it will also be used to teach about decomposition and nutrient cycles.
Sidra Pierson (Middlebury College)
This semester I worked with the Environmental Education Team in the National Botanical Garden of Viña del Mar, Chile. My coworkers were incredibly warm and welcoming, and the space itself is absolutely stunning and a wonderful escape and change of pace. My work varied by day, but I often participated in gardening workshops with visiting middle school students and accompanied coworkers on guided visits of the garden, which include stops at a greenhouse, a cactus garden, a grove of Chilean palm trees, and a sector with medicinal plants. I often went to environmental education fairs at the garden or in other locations with other members of the team and helped lead stands and activities about the water cycle and the drought or helped with gardening and environmental craft activities with children. I also helped translate visits to the greenhouse to English and taught one of my coworkers to give the visits in English to non-Spanish-speaking tourists.
My supervisor was also really committed to my internship being a learning experience and encouraged me to attend the occasional lecture or event for the staff and accompany her when she went to planning meetings with members of other environmental organizations. The team is also based out of the library at the botanical garden, providing me constant access to reading materials about the flora and fauna, environmental challenges, and environmental education programs of Chile.
Emily Hochman (Bowdoin College)
I spent my semester in Chile conducting a for-credit internship with Obsnatura, a holistic health center in Viña del Mar, Chile. While Obsnatura offers a variety of treatments and services to their patients, the center primarily provides maternity care. As an aspiring nurse-midwife, my internship with Obsnatura allowed me to participate in prenatal educational classes, yoga for mothers-to-be, mother-baby yoga, as well as to familiarize myself with the work schedule and lifestyle of an Obsnatura midwife. The midwives I worked with at Obsnatura showed me it takes full dedication to do meaningful work as a midwife. Their openness with me and excitement about their professions reaffirmed my interest in the field.
Another important component of my internship was a self-guided series of interviews I realized at Obsnatura. I conducted informal interviews with ten patients of Obsnatura and prompted them to share with me their conceptions of natural birth (vaginal birth with limited to no medical intervention) in Chile and its reception by Chilean society. Speaking with these patients confirmed, but also complicated what I had learned about natural birth in Chile through my internship and my independent research. Many patients who opted for a natural birth intimated to me a feeling of alienation from their relatives and “others” that did not share their birthing ideals. As a midwife, I will need to maintain great sensitivity and empathy for couples that believe in natural birth but feel unsupported by those around them. My work with Obsnatura gave me the opportunity to learn closely from professional midwives and furthered my studies of natural birth in its Chilean context.
Southern Nature/Manos Verdes
Ezera Miller-Walfish (Middlebury College)
During my semester abroad in Valparaíso, Chile, I worked with Southern Nature/Manos Verdes. Southern Nature is a non-profit organization that provides field trips and educational activities for elementary and middle schools in the region with the mission of increasing environmental awareness and providing students with the tools to work towards creating a more sustainable future. Manos Verdes is a branch of the organization, originally established by a Middlebury study abroad student, which offers the same opportunities and activities free of charge to underfunded public schools in Valparaíso. Throughout the semester, I assisted in the execution of the field trips (modifying educational materials, leading student groups, making lunch for the activities) as well as completed office-related tasks of the organization. I also worked with a school in the neighborhood where I lived to plant a garden in the school patio, a project which consisted of working to get trees and other plants donated, designing the garden with the students and a few days of planting. Overall, I highly recommend this internship; it is a very hands-on experience given that the team at this organization is small and the intern is given responsibility and the opportunity to participate directly in rewarding activities with the students.