Upon arrival in Chillán after our 7-hour drive from Santiago on May 24th, several students from the University of Bio-Bio greeted us at our hotel. We had the opportunity to meet and mingle with the students as they showed us around Chillán. After visiting the Cathedral and the mall, we stopped for a bite to eat to chat a little more before our activities the next morning. After a long day of driving, we were finally able to catch up on some sleep after all the continuous events in the past week.
The morning of the 25th began around 9 a.m. after having breakfast and checkout out of our hotel. Unfortunately, we had to pack up our suitcases again and also pack a smaller bag for our next stay. After bearing through the 38° F weather, we then traveled to the University of Bio-Bio campus in Chillán and were graciously welcomed by the students. Once we introduced ourselves to the other 10 students, some that we met the night before, we all joined in a classroom to start the activities of the day.
First, we received a presentation from Dean Benito Umaña about the University of Bio-Bio, which was followed by Dr. Delgadillo and Emily Latham with a presentation about RBLP and Rawls College of Business. After the presentations, we participated in icebreaker activities to meet one another and eventually formed 5 teams of 4 , including two students from each school. The next activity revolved around a special organization, Techo, which is a non-profit organization that specializes in helping poverty communities all around the world, specifically in South America. Techo focuses on not only on providing homes and shelter for under privileged families, but they focus on creating community, jobs, and a healthier environment. They firmly believe that there’s a solution to poverty, no matter what the circumstance is.
Once we learned about Techo, we had a team competition. Each team was given a certain amount of resources to build a home or building for an under privileged family. The resources included 2 pieces of poster board paper, folders, 3 wood sticks, glue, scissors, tape, and markers. The only requirement: build something innovative, cheaper, and bigger. In 20 minutes, each team collaborated and hustled to meet the requirements and come up with a solution.
After the 20 minutes was up, each team presented their design and the benefits. The group as a whole chose the winner by clapping for their favorite and most efficient design. The winning team consisted of Regan Head, Brooke Downing, and two Chilean students, Fernada and George. Their design focused on renewable energy, weather stability (especially for earthquakes), and accessibility to food. This competition really gave the students a chance to learn how to work with language barriers and communicate.
After the competition, we had the pleasure to hear from the Vice Chancellor, who thanked us for coming to Chile and working with their students at the University of Bio-Bio. Soon after, we received a beautiful harp performance from Miguel Romero Parra and were able to witness the popular Chilean dance, Cueca. To finish up the morning activities, we had a snack and coffee break to interact some more.
After our morning activities, we had the pleasure to visit an under privileged community that Techo is affiliated with. As we arrived, several people, including the president of the community, happily greeted us. They had welcomed us in their meeting area with sopapillas and coffee, which they had been preparing for since 7 that morning. As we enjoyed the food and coffee, we gathered in groups to discuss the situation at hand. Each group discussed what main problems the community faces everyday and how we can make a difference. My group, for instance, had the chance to talk personally with the president of the community and what issues she thought were important. We discussed the problems with flooding, mud, volunteers and transportation, and ways we could fix them.
The community was extremely appreciative of our efforts. They had never been visited by anyone, including foreigners. They emphasized how important it is for us to take action and continue to help. The others and myself talked about several solutions and action we could take. One option we considered is doing a fundraiser through RBLP to help raise money for the community. Another huge option is to generate more volunteer help for them locally through the University of Bio-Bio. This experience made a great impact on everyone, including myself. It’s an honor to be welcomed into a community and see how thankful they are to have the company.
We traveled to a local farm for lunch after our visit. We enjoyed empanadas and beef along with our fresh juice, and made our way to visit the farm animals. They had cows, ducks, pigs, goats, and many others. A few of us even got the chance to milk a cow and try the milk (I chickened out). After viewing the farm, we had another special tour from the owners. On their property stands a house that’s over 200 years old. The home has survived several earthquakes, and the owners have continued to preserve it. It was truly an incredible house to see and showed a little more of what the Chilean culture is like.
Our group and the Bio-Bio students then traveled to Termas de Chillán, which are mountains about an hour out of Chillán. During the winter it’s a ski resort, so we all stayed in cabins near the mountains. Once we got all settled, we had dinner provided for us in the main hall. All the students, professors, and advisors joined together to get to know one another even more and share our lives. The main event of the night revolved around a guitar. One Chilean student, MeMo, brought his guitar and played for us throughout the night. The Chilean students love American music, so there were several songs we could sing together. We even discovered that Timmy had a hidden talent of playing guitar. He sang us an Indonesian song, and a few timeless classics we all knew. The night began very casual, then quickly turned into a concert. MeMo played us a song he wrote, a group of the Chilean students performed a Chilean song, Timmy sang us another Indonesian song, Regan, Brittney and I sang “Uptown Funk”, and of course Dr. Delgadillo got his time to shine.
This opportunity that RBLP had was incredible. We met so many great friends, learned about them and their culture, and just overall had a great experience. Lots of memories were made, whether it was working together to help a cause or singing the night away. Communicating with these students was very interesting because they shared the same drive as we do. The students also mentioned how much they would enjoy coming to Texas Tech to visit. But best of all, Texas is now their favorite state. 🙂
“C-H-I, CHI! L-E, LE! CHI CHI CHI, LE LE LE, VIVA CHILE!”