Wow, has it really only been 3 days? It's amazing how time can stretch out when you travel.
The adventure began with an all-nighter marathon packing session (of course). I scooped up Dr. del Prado Hill and we had a quick jaunt to the Toronto airport. Checkin was surprisingly easy with no crowds and we were off. I'm unfortunately NOT a good plane sleeper so it was a long 17 hour trip to Santiago. We arrived about 3 am and camped out in the airport until our 8 am shuttle. Seeing our students wrapped in blankets, hats, and gloves stretched out on the floor using their suitcase as a pillow made me long for my 20s again. The good thing was no luggage was lost and everything was on time.
Once we finally arrived and got settled, it was time for our first day bright and early Monday morning at our Spanish language school, ECELA. They have classes that average 4-6 students, with people visiting from all over the world. Students are placed according to their language ability, so most of us are in classes with a great mixture of new friend possibilities.
The highlight of our 2 days here has been the activities organized by our Chilean higher education partner, Universidad Mayor. It is the largest private university in Santiago and Pixita has spent the better part of a decade forging relationships and opportunities for students at Buffalo State as well as students from U Mayor. For us visiting Chile from Buf State, this experience represents the culmination of those efforts. A true international exchange of ideas and energy, with a newly formed collaborative research team ready to bring the element of scientific exploration to the cultural exchange and educational experience (more on that to come!)
We were graciously greeted by a U mayor delegation of faculty and students with a lovely Welcoming Reception (they had me at passionfruit cake), and over the past two days have visited participated in several different classes on campus and met with the Student Council, a small but mighty group of student leaders determined to foster positive change both in campus and in the local community. I feel like we've already packed weeks' worth of wonderful experiences into just two days.
Thank you for taking the time to read this and please tune in for more in the coming days & weeks as we continue our adventures (and please comment below, so I know someone is actually reading this!).
I am a citizen of planet earth and am excited to see as much of it as possible in this lifetime.