My name is Alina and I study International Business at the Karlshochschule. I was in Chile last year as part of my studies, and I would like to share my experiences of the first impressing time with you. It was the fifth of September when I wrote this text and I was for more than a month in Chile:
Time has passed so fast! I can still not believe that I’m actually studying in Chile and being part of an amazing international community project. I’m beyond happy that this opportunity exists for us since this project combines all my passions – niños, la naturaleza y surfing.
Uncertainty first, confidence second
In the beginning, I couldn’t imagine what this project was about. I didn’t know what or even who was all behind it. I was a bit afraid of the communication problems or other issues that could occur with the coordinator, especially because I felt my Spanish wasn’t good enough to communicate well. Those doubts and fears had already diminished after the first meeting, at the office, with my coordinator. He spoke English to us, since he is from the United States.
My project, my mission
In Chile, social inequality is huge. The gap between the lowest and highest income is humungous. Usually, it is the poor that live in rural areas and have less access to basic needs. The Valpo Surf Project approaches the youth at risk, in Valparaíso, and gives them the opportunity to learn English, through a shared learning experience with the volunteers at Valpo Surf. My task in the project consists of three parts: the English lessons at different rural schools; education for environmental awareness, through beach clean-ups or similar events; and lastly, the surfing, which gives them the possibility to connect with nature and develop an awareness for environmental issues.
A world to discover
So far, I feel very comfortable and I’m confident that this project will be a valuable experience for both sides. The coordinators, the other volunteers and the children are open-minded, welcoming and sincere. This creates a very special work environment. In the beginning, I found it really hard to imagine the Chilean culture and what working in it would be like. Now I know for sure that this will not only teach me what it means to work in a community project, but also what it means to live in a completely different culture.
I’m really excited to see the new adventures this project will bring and how it will evolve. Thank you again for this opportunity and for supporting this valuable experience for students at Karls.
Do you want to know how Karls encourages students to experience other cultures through community-engaged learning? Check out the SENSE center!
Article by Alina Allmann, Student (International Business, 5th semester)