Chile: Cultural Identity, Social Justice, and Community Development
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Explore the social, cultural, and political means by which Chileans are seeking new ways of representation, communication, and identification.
In the last four decades, Chile has experienced fundamental political, economic, and social changes that have greatly impacted the cultural identity, community fabric, and development model of its society. The democratic socialist experience of the early 1970s and a subsequent 17-year dictatorship with its “free” market policies have been followed by an extended transition period to democracy as Chileans struggle to build a more equitable and inclusive nation.
Students in this program have the opportunity to:
- Examine the challenges facing Chile's indigenous peoples from the perspectives of indigenous communities
- Explore links between international images of a successful economic model with the deep social inequalities expressed in class, gender, and racial discrimination
- Learn firsthand about local community responses to Chile's socio-economic changes
- Witness the debate between truth and justice and reconciliation, in the context of the human rights violations during the Pinochet regime
Community work in Valparaíso
During the program, students engage in a two-day volunteer project with local Valparaíso communities.. Students work with an NGO on community-identified projects, such as building a community greenhouse or reclaiming an abandoned neighborhood square and playground for local children. Through these partnerships, students learn about the unique challenges local communities face as well as the various development strategies being utilized.
Intensive Spanish language instruction
Students can expect to rapidly improve their Spanish on this program. Intensive language instruction in the classroom is augmented by lectures in Spanish, field activities, excursions, and time with host families.
Local educational and language excursions
The program's three local, field-based excursions—in Valparaíso and nearby Santiago—give students additional opportunities to learn about Chilean cultural identity, social justice movements, and human rights struggles. Highlights include visits to:
- El Museo de la Memoria in Santiago
- Villa Grimaldi in Santiago
Visits to a local fishing village and artisan workshops allow students to experience Chilean culture and Valparaíso's enchanting ambience. Many of these visits are combined with testimony from individuals who shed additional light on these vital aspects of Chile's recent history and current realities. Local excursions are conducted in Spanish in order to strengthen oral language use and expand students' vocabulary.
To learn more about local excursion sites, visit:
Museo de la Memoria
Parque por La Paz Villa Grimaldi
Independent Study Project
Students spend the last four weeks of the program focused on an Independent Study Project (ISP), pursing original research on a selected topic of interest to them. The ISP is conducted in Valparaíso, Santiago, Temuco, Arica, or another approved location appropriate to the project.
Sample topic areas for the ISP include:
- The historical memory of the "Disappeared", and the human rights movement
- Urban Mapuche/Aymara culture
- Women's reproductive rights and public health services
- Chilean social policy and educational reform
- Environment destruction and local community action
- Aymara indigenous womens' birthing practices
- Mapuche land rights'/Aymara water rights' struggles
- Alternative theater in Chile
- Political exclusion and limited democracy
- Chilean urban youth "tribes"
Duration: 15 weeks
Program Base: Valparaiso
Language Study: Spanish
Prerequisites: 3 semesters Spanish Read more...
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