WorldTeach Chile Year: Day 1 On-site (and already on TV!)

On their first day at their placement sites, WorldTeach's Chile Ministry Year volunteers made it on to the news! Check out the news clip here (the story, for non-Spanish speakers, gives an introduction to the WorldTeach Chile program and the benefit of having native English speakers in the classroom).  Below, WorldTeach volunteer Jeremy Gould shares with us some of his thoughts and reactions as he settles into his first week at his new home.

"I have always been a person with both a desire to explore, as well as a desire to give of myself.  Chile had been a country which interested me for quite some time when I discovered WorldTeach and the “Ingles Abre Puertas” program almost three years ago.  Being a country that is considered to be the most advanced in Latin America, that stretches from the Atacama Desert region to the Antarctic glacier region, that endured a brutal dictatorship for nearly twenty years, and that produces some of the world’s finest wine, Chile was sure to be a place with a vast array of culture to explore.  Fortunately for me, Chile also has a need for English teachers.  I decided to take the plunge and apply for the program this past summer and was accepted the day before I graduated from college in December – perfect timing, right?  Throughout the next few months there weren’t many moments where I ceased to think about the adventures and encounters that were to come over the course of the next year.

I arrived in Santiago in mid-March to discover a smog-covered city filled with well-fed stray dogs as far as the eye can see.  Despite the pollution, Santiago is a beautiful city with very distinct little pockets, each offering a completely different atmosphere and pace of life.  After three weeks of training and endless anticipation as to where we would be placed, our placement sites were finally revealed to us a few days before we departed.  Ventanas is a tiny, charming “pueblito” located on the coast of the Valparaiso region with a population of around two-thousand.  It is both a quiet fishing village as well as the location of a handful of industrial power-plants.  Although my teaching placement is considered to be a “problem-school,” I can’t even describe the sense of purpose I feel when I leave the premise everyday. 

I live on top of a hill overlooking what I joke with my host father to be the “grand metropolis” of Ventanas.  Another WorldTeach volunteer and I were very warmly received by the sweetest host family one could imagine.  Bernardo, our host father, is a jovial and portly man whose kindness is only surpassed by his sense of humor.  He literally doesn’t ever stop making jokes. Literally!  (I can actually hear him right now in the living room goofing around and laughing with our usual ensemble of evening guests.)  My personal favorite would have to be when he says “Come on, baby!” or “very good” with a strong Chilean accent - two of the only things he knows how to say in English. My host mother is a loveable woman who takes great pleasure in making me feel welcome and comfortable.  My “guata,” or stomach, seems to have grown considerably in the few days that I’ve been here as she really is a tremendous cook.  After spending so much time anxiously wondering what everything would finally be like when I settled into my new home, I have to admit that everything is truly “tranquilo.”  Although it is not wise to assume prematurely, it seems as though this may end up being one of the most meaningful and fulfilling years of my life."

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