As countries across the world come together to collaborate, an emphasis on foreign relations has become increasingly important for a majority of global countries. Yesterday, our class learned how international relations can produce economic benefits for businesses during our trip to Principal Financial Group. Today, we continued to learn about the ways in which international relations can positively guide foreign policy and education.
We started our day with a trip to the United States Embassy to learn about the way in which the United States interacts and aids Chile on a daily basis. Our class was greeted by a U.S. Department of State Foreign Service Officer (FSO) who previously worked at a number of embassy locations, like Washington D.C., Dominican Republic, and South Africa. The FSO presented our class with a lecture on the general purpose of the U.S. Embassy in Chile.
The U.S. Embassy is divided into five main parts: political, public diplomacy, management, economic, consular. Each of these U.S. Embassy sectors works in Chile to promote the American and Chilean interests together. The most widely known use of the U.S. Embassy is the consular, because it is the most accessible for American citizens for visa and passport services. The management portion of the U.S. Embassy monitors items like budgets, hiring, and firing. The other three parts of the U.S. Embassy work together to keep the United States updated about current events happening in Chile, and work to further the political and economic interests of the United States and Chile.
Many things have been done in the past and present at the U.S. Embassy in Chile to further democracy, trade agreements, and security. For example, in a past initiative to increase GDP growth in sectors other than natural resources, the U.S. Embassy has brought possibilities for change to the table in Chile. Specifically, the U.S. Embassy has discussed with Chile the advantages of creating and supporting American corporations currently located in Chile. By supporting these businesses that have strong establishments in the United States, the U.S. Embassy can suggest to Chile ways in which they can grow GDP in other facets. Currently, the biggest focus of the U.S. Embassy is on the Trans-Pacific Partnership. While the U.S. Embassy does not have any true negotiating power, it is the U.S. Embassy’s job to promote foreign relationships and initiatives that will benefit the United States and Chile.
Our class continued our learning about foreign relations at a local Chilean university. We spent lunch on a summery patio at the Universidad de los Andes (UANDES) stuffing ourselves with sopaipillas, empanadas, and mote con huesillo, a Chilean dessert containing peach nectar, the dried remains of the fruit, and corn. But the most culturally enriching part of the afternoon, by far, was interacting with the international students at the university.
We spoke to two students in particular who were incredibly friendly – perhaps more personable immediately than students you’d come across in the states. They let us in on some native knowledge about Santiago, Valparaiso, and Viña Del Mar. We talked about everything from break dancing to skiing, and arranged to have the locals show us around the city later on in our trip.
Collaborating with international students is the most rewarding (and fun and exciting) part of studying abroad. Interacting with people from around the world broadens your view of the world. You can read a million books, but it is difficult to say you’re culturally intelligent without making friends abroad. At UANDES, the international program has thrived in the last few years. The international offices have expanded and remodeled, and it’s an incredibly attractive place for a students like ourselves to spend a semester.
Studying abroad in Chile is easier than one might think. UANDES has a partnership with Drake University and many other schools that eases the transition for abroad students. It also doesn’t hurt that tuition at most private schools in Chile are similarly priced or cheaper than public universities. The employees at UANDES are eager to invite students from Drake University and are more than willing to adjust studies and research to fit the strengths and interests of the individual visiting Chile.After meeting with the study abroad office and Chilean students, we had time for a tour of the campus.
This campus is gorgeous! Stunning buildings, lovely people, and wide-open green space filled with beautiful trees covered the campus. Since the university was founded less than thirty years ago, many of the buildings are modern and the campus has a very open feel. Also, there is construction happening across campus to perfect the campus aesthetic. Our tour guide mentioned that they own a lot of land and are able to expand their campus to even larger distances. After seeing this campus, I definitely understand how they are the 3rd best university in Chile.
After spending time at the U.S. Embassy and UANDES, we can clearly see the importance of investing time in foreign relations. While we only have eight days left in Chile, we may all hope to come back one day in the future.