To you and me, those are just numbers. Three random numbers with no meaning other than the amount they represent. But to the Chilean people, those numbers have a more significant meaning. They aren’t just numbers to them. They stand for something. They stand for loss, horror, sadness, and fear for the unknown.
They stand for the amount of children whose lives were forever changed on September 11, 1973.
150 children were executed.
39 children were detained.
2,200 children were captured, held as prisoners and tortured.
There were many more lives taken that day and in the years that followed. Not just children but parents, siblings, friends, students, politicians, and many more. To you and me, those are just numbers. But to the Chilean people, those numbers have a more significant meaning.
Tuesday we visited the Museum of Memory & Human Rights. The museum is dedicated to the victims of human rights violations during a time when the country was under military control. On that September day there was a military coup. The military took over the government and overthrew the president of Chile. What followed were years of repression, torture, forced disappearance, fear and exile.
The museum was a serene place to be, one that allowed for peace and tranquility. Where we could reflect on the events that took place and pay tribute to those lives lost on that horrific day. To this day, 42 years later, they are still identifying bodies. So many questions left unanswered.
I wasn’t sure what to expect before entering the museum. I had some background on the events that occurred in Chile, but maybe not enough to fully appreciate all that the museum stands for. I am at a loss for words to describe just how I felt and what was going through my mind.
My name is Natalie and I am a graduate student at Buffalo State College in the special education program. I have been given this amazing opportunity to really grow not only as a student, but as a teacher and a person. Through this experience my hope is that I get to know myself better as an individual; develop a deeper understanding of the Chilean geography, culture and language; and gain a different perspective on the possibilities within the classroom. I hope that you follow me on this journey and learn right alongside me.