Saturday, May 30, 2009

Pre-Departure Preparations

Group Dinners:
Leading up to our departure to Chile, our group has spent numerous days preparing. As a group, we met once together and a second time with participants from last year’s program. Our first group meeting midway through the semester was the first time that many of us had ever met. We bonded over delicious empanadas and Chilean postre (dessert) while looking at slides of stunning Chilean landscapes and dynamics neighborhoods throughout Santiago.

We also met at the end of the semester with last year’s group. This brainstorming dinner was helpful in many regards. How cold does it actually get? Were you able to understand Chilean Spanish? What’s the office environment like at the Acción Emprendedora sites? Where are good places to visit on weekends? Which projects should we think about for our contribution to AE? What advice do you have for making progress in such a short period of time? Last year’s group answered many of our questions, assuaged our concerns, and sparked even more excitement. The dinner helped me focus on what types of projects I was interested in and how viable they may be. I began to think more about the work aspect of my summer. I’ve interned before at several financial firms, but my work at these firms was different than what I will face this summer. The stakes are higher this summer because my work helps individuals, not just a large company. If I want to make a sustainable impact, I must hit the ground running. I also must be prepared for roadblocks and the realities of time and financial constraints. Ambition is great, but it must be paired with reality.

DukeEngage Academy:
The three day long DukeEngage Academy provided the capstone to our preparation. Throughout the Academy, we attended numerous workshops that ranged from interacting with our community partner (AE) to the ethics of service. All six of us agreed that the most valuable preparation from the Academy was spending time as a group and getting to know each other better. We even had a group skype call to the intern coordinators at AE, including Joe, a Duke student who has spent the year abroad in Chile interning for AE.

Antonio assigned us quite a bit of reading to learn more about Chilean history, politics, and culture. We read “Death and The Maiden,” which is a thrilling short play that looks at addressing the atrocities committed during General’s Augusto Pinochet’s reign. Many countries throughout the world have had to cope with “reconciliation” processes following the rule of an oppressive regime. How do you prosecute those who committed crimes, yet move forward? Other pre-trip readings included chapters from Chile The Legacy of Hispanic Capitalism by Brian Loveman, as well as chapters from How to Survive in the Chilean Jungle by John Brennan and Alvaro Taboada, which aims to teach Chilean modismos or slang.

1 comment:

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