The GoGlobal Blog

Breathing in fantasies..

Breathing in fantasies..

Hola mi amigas y familia!

Today marks the 1/12 of my journey (yes we are actually counting it down that much) or in other words my 2nd week in South America! If time continues to go this fast then I definitely can’t complain. Although day-to-day, everything here seems to go at a slower pace AKA Chilean time. The thing about Chileans is that they don’t really have a sense of a time, not sure if this is just a thing of the summer but really, people spend 3-4 hours just sitting at the table around meal times talking and laughing- Laughter is the universal language after all:) For example, my friend Mary and I noticed in the streets today walking to our favorite restaurant for lunch, everyone was just going at their own pace, talking, kissing cheeks..maybe they were so slow because everyone is 5 feet tall like me..who knows! Also, whenever I come home from school or anywhere my mom greets me with hugs and kisses and just wants to sit and talk about my day, sometimes for up to an hour! There are endless examples really, but I won’t drag on- I’m on a tight time schedule.

Just Kidding. My new favorite class is with a professor that I have usually on Tues/Thurs and we are learning about the culture, poverty and history of Chile. In class the other day we were reading these examples from adults that were in their 40s. They were from adults that were very poor- making 30.000 pesos a month or 60 U.S dollars/month.

They were given a sheet of paper and told to write their autobiography.  It was incredibly devastating to me, to see what they had written. There was one example where one person didn’t mention their name or even anything about their life. They had grown up in the slums in Santiago, constantly looked down on as a commodity, solely to make money for their family- he wrote in his autobiography he had nothing to say because he didn’t know who he was. This was a 40-year-old man writing this- can you imagine believing that about your life? I am only 19 years old and I would have difficulty writing my autobiography in 25 pages…he could write his in 4 sentences. Reading those autobiographies that consistently were less than a paragraph long, because people were ashamed of their lives- was something I will never forget. People grow up so poor, so vulnerable to poverty that they don’t even have the right to happiness because their needs always come first.

In this same class, we discussed the biggest problem in Chile right now- Public Education, and the factors to a child’s opportunity at receiving a quality education. The biggest ones were if they lived in a rural area, they had a 20% less chance of going to a school and the 2nd biggest factor was if they had a single mother- 13% less chance of the children ever going to school. This really hit me in the heart, because I never thought about how that could or even should have been me and my sister.. how lucky our family is that when my father passed away we had a choice to keep on living. For the majority of the population in Chile, and in the world if they lose the father of the house- they lose all hope for their future. In Chile, it is close to impossible to break out of the “cycle of poverty” that is so prevalent.

Ok, deep breath- now get this.. 4, yes you heard me- 4 families control 47%  of the stock market in Chile.Of course one of the families is the corrupt president that is in term right now. That is how devastating this income gap is, it is the 4th worst in the world. Also, one thing that Chile has in common with India is that they both use the Caste social ranking system according to their skin color. People with lighter skin and hair are automatically looked at as better off and more important than those with darker skin like the indigenous people.

I could go on for hours on this topic, and I think my professor knows, and he knows I’m an aspiring journalist so he always is sending me more info in emails after class!

So, after our class the other day we visited Hogar de Cristo- or the homeless shelters in a very poor part of the city. It again, was humbling to really see what we had been learning in class right in front of our eyes. For our jesuit internship next semester, one of our options is this homeless shelter, but I honestly don’t know if I’m capable of spending hours and hours there a week.. The homeless shelter consisted of a few buildings that we stopped in for about an hour each, first was the shelter that let only woman and children sleep and eat there every night, the other was a permanent home for men which helped get off the streets, get clean (drugs and alcohol are everywhere) and slowly get their life back if possible, and the 3rd was the mental institute for those too far gone and those who have no where else to go literally.. that was the last place we visited and I won’t go into detail but let’s just say it reminded me of the movie Shutter Island.

Well, it is yet another 95 degrees plus day, and I have a mountain of homework to do before this weekend is over with! But my host mother is singing in a jazz club in Bella Vista, the bohemian neighborhood of Santiago, on Saturday night and I definitely can’t wait to go!

Besitos y Abrezos!

“The place you have left forever is always there for you to see whenever you shut your eyes.” – Jane Myrdal

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