As our last few days in Chile wind down, we’ve had time to reflect on all of the experiences we’ve gained and how we’ve improved as individuals. Chile has definitely allowed us to redefine ourselves and become more observant global citizens. Whilst working on our equality project, we have become more aware travelers, observing a plethora of cultural cues around us to engage on a more personal level with other Chileans and within our communities, as well as through other educational experiences.
We’ve collected many memories on this trip to Chile, from sun bathing on the beach to hiking up a mountain. One experience that really sticks out was learning about the 1973 coup d’etat. If you are unaware of this piece of history, as we were prior to this trip, prepare your tear ducts. In the educational systems we were brought up in, none of us were educated about the power struggles that Chile once experienced. In short, the country’s government revolutionized in 1973, resulting in a dictatorship in Chile. The United States’ government offered support and CIA military training during this time, and our country did not stop supplying the dictatorship with support when they discovered the conditions of the government. While we were providing help, Chileans were suffering – we were contributing to that. Consequentially, Americans are called “Gringos” here, which has a slightly negative connotation. This is just a small description of a topic with great depth.
We believe that this is what we will remember the most because we felt extremely ignorant when our Chilean tour guides described this coup. We had no idea what they were describing, even though the United States played a large role in the 17-year dictatorship. It was disheartening to learn that the educational system that we grew up in failed to provide us with historical information. Prior to this trip, we had mostly heard about the good things that the United States has done, but not the bad and the ugly. We will forever remember all of the torture and suffering that the Chilean people went through.
On a happier note, when we return to Des Moines, we will dearly miss being with this fantastic group of ten Drake University students every day of the week. We have learned so much from each and every one of them, and couldn’t have asked for greater people to share this amazing cultural experience with. We are extremely grateful that we will also be able to spend the next semester with all of these wonderful people. Even though we will not be together every day, we will find a way to get all ten of us back together again during the school year. Salud!