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South Americans as Persons for Others

The recent hours have been filled with information about our new Pope Francis, formerly his Eminence Jorge Mario Cardinal Bergoglio of Argentina. Reiterated are two facts:  he is the first Jesuit Pope and the first South American to hold the position.  His Jesuit affiliation is a source of pride to those of us with a Jesuit educational affiliation. We understand the tradition of educational rigor and commitment to social justice that pervade this training and his beliefs. Still unclear, however, is how his South American roots differ from the European orientation that has defined church leadership for the past thousand years.

I cannot presume to explain this second point completely, but I was struck by the warmth, openness and thoughtfulness of many South Americans I have met during my several trips there this past year.  One of the Quinlan graduate business students whom I accompanied to Santiago last week  nicely summarized the differences as she has experienced and noted in her travels.  Maria Miller writes the following:

“Most people have a sense of pride of where they come from, but the loyalty and patriotism in Chile was of a different caliber.  Chileans are so proud of their country and culture, that instead of referring to their language as Spanish or Castilian, they referred to it as Chilean.  I spent a year in Europe and along the way met many travelers.  Conversely to Chileans, Europeans were accustomed to an exorbitant amount of tourists backpacking through their cobble-stoned streets.  It was a completely different experience interacting with the Chilean natives; they were always excited to meet an ‘outsider’ and wanted to provide them with something they would never forget.  One night some of us went out for dinner and walked into a restaurant and bar, however it was chilly outside and they were not open inside.  When the employees discovered that we were from the United States they opened their doors two hours early so that we did not have to sit in the cold.  This treatment made me understand the creator of La Bicicleta Verde’s ‘love of Chileans’ and why he permanently moved so far south of the equator.

At DDB, our class was told that there were not niches markets that businesses wanted to enter, but rather one simple focus on luxury.  This became more apparent when touring Viña del Mar; marketing and branding simply was not a part of their business plan.  In fact, our tour guide at the winery noted that if something is made in Chile there is not much of a need to advertise as Chileans are extremely loyal to their own country.

Everywhere that I went, I was pleasantly surprised with the culture and the people.  Our guide, Roberto, also had a love for his country that was felt in the way he described Chile to our group.  In fact, he said that he hoped that all of us would return to the United States with a piece of Chile forever ingrained in our hearts.  I can definitely say that I left with a love for the country and the people and that I hope one day to return.”

Mary Ann

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