Today, the rest of the group is horseback riding, but I stayed back to catch up on a little work and rest. I am working on two presentations – one that the students will give to students at UMayor to describe student life at Buffalo State and the other that Dr. del Prado and I will give to faculty at UMayor to describe teacher preparation in special education in the U.S. and at Buffalo State. I am excited to see how our presentations are received this week, as well as to discuss the similarities and differences between our two education systems.
Yesterday, we went shopping at Los Dominicos – a very interesting artisan center. You can check it out here. http://www.culturallascondes.cl/home/centro-artesanal-los-dominicos-%E2%80%93-las-condes.html
View of the mountains outside Los Dominicos
We also visited the President’s House, La Moneda, and a museum attached to it. We learned that the President, Michelle Bachelet, works at La Moneda, but does not live there. We were only permitted to go inside a courtyard (not the actual house), but it was very interesting.
We are getting pretty good at riding the metro and getting around the city!
My Spanish is slowly improving, which is very exciting and makes me want to study more when I return home. The other night, my Chilean mother and I spent over two and a half hours talking (in Spanish) – just the two of us. We covered many interesting and heavy topics, including religion, politics, family relationships, adoption, gay rights, etc. It was so interesting to hear her perspective on issues as an older Chilean woman. While we used a lot of gesturing, and occasionally resorted to the Spanish-English dictionary, I felt pretty proud that I was able to understand so much of the conversation and communicate with her. I also felt humbled that she was willing to share so much with me. She has been very gracious in welcoming me into her home, as has her perro (dog), Llaema – who has become my best buddy. Here is a picture of Llaema sporting a Chilean flag sweater. Even the dogs dress up to cheer on their futbol team!
Overall, I am not a huge dog fan, although I have a very large dog at home that I love to pieces. But, all the dogs in Chile steal my heart for some reason. They just seem to have a very kind and loving demeanor. In Santiago, there are many dogs that live in the streets. The people of the city all pitch in to care for them – feed them, keep them warm, and even provide travelling veterinary care. Here are a few of them that have made me smile.
Dr. del Prado and I have discussed on many occasions how impressed we are with all three of the students we are travelling with here. Danielle, Amber, and Sam all bring different strengths and experiences to the table, and each has been using those strengths to further develop while here in Chile. It is truly impressive to watch these three young ladies navigate this experience – the good and the bad – always with a smile on their faces! If you are a family member, friend, or former professor of one of these students, please feel very proud!