Allyson Caudill, WorldTeach's awesome Field Director in Chile, has had a tumultuous but thankfully safe first few weeks in-country and has recently welcomed a group of Chile Ministry Year volunteers (we still have placements remaining for our Chile Semester program, departing in July). Below, she shares with us a touching reflection on her experience in Chile in the aftermath of the earthquake, her love for her new home, and her transition from WorldTeach volunteer to WorldTeach field staff.
"In the beginning of time, God created the wonders of the world. When he was finished, however, he saw that he had many leftover pieces. He had parts of rivers and valleys, of oceans and lakes, of glaciers and deserts, of mountains and forests, and of meadows and hills. Rather than to let such beauty go to waste, God put them all together and cast them to the most remote corner of the earth. This is how Chile was born." –A Chilean Legend
Amidst the aftermath of the historic 8.8 magnitude earthquake that rocked Chile just a few weeks ago, life continues to move forward. Aid has arrived to the most disaster-stricken areas, and here in Santiago, the last traces of the earthquake are beginning to disappear. Though no one will forget what occurred, if there is one distinct characteristic that all Chileans possess, it is that they protect their own. Eight days following the earthquake, the Chilean government held a telethon to raise money to rebuild homes in the most affected regions. In just 24 hours, Chile itself raised 29 million USD to help her people. In Santiago in the weeks following the quake, young Chilean boys stood at streetlights and offered to paint “Fuerza Chile!” (Strength Chile!) on car windows for a 50 peso donation. Volunteers stood outside grocery stores with carts asking customers to buy non-perishable food items and donate them to send South. Mounds of clothes were donated, packed, and sent south with the bomberos (firefighters). Chile is united with the passion, drive, and determination to progress even through the most crippling circumstances. ¡Adelante Chile!
If someone had tried to tell me I would live through such an event I would have called them loco! When I first told my friends and family that I had decided to move to Chile and teach English with WorldTeach the most common response was: Chile? Why Chile? That’s in South America, isn’t it? Is that the long skinny one? Why do you want to go there? And, honestly, at first, I had trouble answering that question. I mostly blamed it on wanting to learn Spanish and the fact that I had never been to South America before. But now, after many months spent teaching English in a small town in the south with a wacky host mom and 320 Michael Jackson-worshiping students, I have a list a mile long with answers to that difficult question. The real question is: Why NOT Chile?
Allyson with WorldTeach Chile's fearless volunteers
I have been here in Chile going on 9 months now, first as a volunteer, and now as Field Director. I returned home to the states for Christmas before deciding to return to Chile as part of the WorldTeach field staff. Why did I return? Who can resist dancing the Cueca at every turn, the besos, learning new Chilenismos everyday, the musical stylings of Ámerico and La Noche, always feeling out of place but at the same time right at home, and being a part of the ever-expanding WorldTeach Chile familia? I must say, moving from my little pueblito, Angol, where I taught, to the overwhelmingly big city that is Santiago has been the most drastic change, but I am Chilean at heart and want nothing more than to share this extraordinary, and sometimes ridiculous, experience that is Chile! From the Andes to the glaciers of Patagonia, there are echos of Chilean students screaming “AWESOME!” as they run down the halls. ¡Viva Chile!
Apply today to serve in Chile through our semester program, departing in July. Application deadline April 20th.