Soy Gringa En Chile

5 weeks, 2 cameras, and no Spanish. Follow me on my journey, as a foreigner in Chile.

Farewells

10:13pm - 7.10.2012 - SCL > ATL

goodbye metro system that closes at 10:30pm

goodbye pacos and guanacos

goodbye pisco

goodbye machismo.

goodbye d08, and bilbao

goodbye Tobalaba, and Baquedano

goodbye long streets and short buildings

goodbye late night sopapillas, and my own set of keys

goodbye sleeping with wateros and Sambucha

goodbye weonas y weones

goodbye companer@s, pie de limon, and papayas.

goodbye La Reina, goodbye buttered toast and pepinos

goodbye new family, new students and new friends

goodbye collective passion.

* * *

As a child, there was always someone sleeping on our couch, crashing for a few nights, a few weeks, or a few months. My uncle, a second-cousin, a family friend, whoever, someone. I got used to people coming and going and it was perfectly fine for me. I got great at farewells. As soon as one person left, I knew there would be someone else coming to replace them. A new person to play with. I couldn’t be more pleased.

I pretend to be good at farewells, but the fact is that I’m not. I already feel the culture shock coming on. Being here for five weeks has felt like an eternity, and a long weekend simultaneously. I never had a sister, but here I have two. We fought and loved and debated and drank and slept and enjoyed each-other’s company. Everything happened for a reason. Even the slow days were to be had so that the other days would be the opposite.

Overall, I miss it, sure. Let it not be the first and last time I stay in this beautiful land, with these beautiful and strong people.

6:05pm 7.07.12 - Valparaiso

a timeless city,

disassociating, with no reference points

calm and bustling

crumbling and stuck in disrepair.

A city at the water’s mercy,

raw and unhealed

like a rotting wound that is content with its fester.

we woke up to find ourselves in a paradise,

and fell asleep as we parted from its borders;

I’m convinced it was all a dream.

Photos of the street art and architecture in Valparaiso.

* * *

The name Valparaiso translates to “going to paradise.” How fitting.

7.03.12 - U. Chile, Social Sciences

here I was, searching for comrades and making interviews

when I’m spotted by a friendly face, and with myself in tow,

we enter the bitter cloud to witness what comes next.

Photos from Tuesday’s encounter at U. Chile’s Social Sciences campus between students and cops.

* * *

"These two canisters are worth $100.000 [chilean pesos]"

”..$200 [american dollars]?”

"Yes, but that’s one month of my university tuition. If they hadn’t shot those two, they could have paid for one month of my education."

* * *

With reason or with force.

This gathering had no signs, no banners, no messaging. Most of the students were milling around campus as usual, taking cigarette breaks and eating snacks while in the midst of studying hard for their final exams. In front of the building that houses the Philosophy faculty, some students and encapuchados (I make the distinction because they are not always one in the same) were gearing up for whatever action they were planning. They were assembling Molotov cocktails, soaking shreds of tee-shirts with gasoline and stuffing them into bottles. I soon figured out that their plan was to barricade the street and stop traffic with bonfires etc.

As soon as folks started to gather between the building’s entrance and the campus gates/street, cops started shooting tear gas into the campus. Students ran to hose down the steaming hot and gas-ridden canisters, and the brave ones picked them up (sometimes with their bare hands, yikes!) to throw them back at the cops.

Something interesting and slightly contradictory that I learned today was that the reason why the cops throw the tear gas into the campus, and don’t just come in and arrest people, is that they are actuallynot allowed to enter university grounds unless given permission by the Director of the school. It stuck me in a comically tragic way, that they would use such force (that is illegal in many other countries), but that they would abide by a law that restricts their activity.

Reminds me of an incident at Brooklyn College not too long ago, when cops entered our campus to unleash unnecessary force. Ironic that in our city, where tear gas and water cannons have thankfully not been used on protesters (yet), police would have no problem to enter the property. In both situations, the University’s are considered public property and the attendance/presence of police is controlled by the Director or President of the school.

I generally don’t reblog, but I feel this what my friend Kevin has to say is super important and shouldn’t remain on his blog alone.
Solidarity is different from sharing the fight. They are both beautiful concepts and feelings, but let it be known that theyare two different sensations.

kunisavingpaper:

Things I do: July 28th Student Protest
I was at the year’s biggest student protest last week, using my paper connect to see what I want to see. I won’t pretend like I was on the front lines being a badass because honestly I don’t like water cannons and molotov cocktails. It’s also not my fight. I do think it’s badass I covered, shot and wrote the paper’s current most read article all on my own - aspiring self sufficiency. 
I’ll remember standing under an awning, sheltered from rain and teenage anarchists wrecking traffic lights, breaking sidewalks and fighting cops. Seeing thm got me thinking about how naive I used to be in middle or high school- and I had a great education. At the very least, reform needs to get these kids back in school.

I generally don’t reblog, but I feel this what my friend Kevin has to say is super important and shouldn’t remain on his blog alone.

Solidarity is different from sharing the fight. They are both beautiful concepts and feelings, but let it be known that theyare two different sensations.

kunisavingpaper:

Things I do: July 28th Student Protest

I was at the year’s biggest student protest last week, using my paper connect to see what I want to see. I won’t pretend like I was on the front lines being a badass because honestly I don’t like water cannons and molotov cocktails. It’s also not my fight. I do think it’s badass I covered, shot and wrote the paper’s current most read article all on my own - aspiring self sufficiency. 

I’ll remember standing under an awning, sheltered from rain and teenage anarchists wrecking traffic lights, breaking sidewalks and fighting cops. Seeing thm got me thinking about how naive I used to be in middle or high school- and I had a great education. At the very least, reform needs to get these kids back in school.

(Source: highfivekev)

6.28.12 - Marcha Estudiantil, Plaza Italia, Santiago

Some photos of the national student march today in Downtown Santiago.

* * *

Tons of musicians, bands, dancers and political theatre skits happening all the time. The energy was that of a circus, except that it wasn’t concentrated in a tent, or even just one area, but a whole damn carnival.

By the end of the march, encapuchados (masked anarchists armed with Molotov’s, broken bottles, rocks ripped from the sidewalk etc) had taken over the streets while the majority of students leave the scene. Many are non-students, in fact  - agitators and provocateurs on the march, inciting fear and anger in many/most of the protesting students) and by the time these marches conclude, they have ripped dozens of street signs from their concrete bases, destroyed private property (not government-owned!) with the intent purely to ruin their surroundings. I decided not to photograph them at today’s march because I don’t want to glorify what they do in any way whatsoever.

It’s highly unfortunate that when the media picks up on these marches and “student” activity, they highlight what capuchas do and blaim the movement for their destruction of property and violent nature.

4:00pm - 6.24.12 - Museo de la Solidaridad Salvador Allende, Santiago

so they left? to die years later in Europe

their vibrancy, their legitimacy; unlost

Photos of some of my favorite works of art at MSSA

* * *

Today I checked out this amazing museum with Kevin K. Appreciated the vibrant colors, thick lines and bold imagery of these incredible, (mostly) Latin American artists. Kevin pointed out to me about halfway through our walk-through that many of the artists, although born in Latin America, have death dates in Europe, or the States. During the second half of the 20th century, many artists left their countries of origin in Latin America due to political and ideological persecution under the dictatorship regimes that consumed the continent.

Started as a populist art initiative during Allende’s presidency (1970-73) to pay tribute to him. During the years of the Pinochet dictatorship the permanent collection was kept overseas and ever since 2006 has been in the building it resides in today.

3:32pm - 6.22.12 - Cajon del Maipu

crisp air

relaxed folks

cacti, and snow.

Landscape photos in Cajon del Maipu, which is a string of neighborhoods right outside of Santiago that trickles up the Rio de Maipu and into the snow-capped Andes mountains. The very last photo may or may not be the only photo I will post of myself here. I like to be behind the camera, not in front of it.

2:30pm - 6.21.12 - U. de Chile, Santiago (Social Sciences building)

again, why the fuck can’t my university look like this?

Photos of the banner painting with CECSo students at U. de Chile. The second shot is of grafitti in Valparaiso (a city about an hour and a half north of Santiago - about a 5 minutes drive from Reñaca, where I visited U. del Mar students on hunger strike). Even though it’s not in the same place - the atmosphere in and around Santiago, and I assume all over Chile, has the air of the student movement. Everywhere I go, I find education-related, political graffiti from stencils to thick black Sharpied tags.

* * *

I went to U de Chile’s Social Sciences and Visual Arts campus to meet with students and paint some banners to spread awareness for the national march of students on 6.28. I found a mess of students, paper, paint, brushes, turpentine, and plates of half-eaten empanadas being passed around to sustain the students who milled about half-painting and half-socializing.

Every time I have come to this campus I feel a tug of both immense appreciation and awe and frustration, all at once. Appreciation and awe; to see a central staircase covered with students and handmade banners, stencils and inventive tag-lines and catch-phrases, and simultaneously frustration; that the halls of my own school Brooklyn College, doesn’t look like this.

After a little bit of embarrassment with my once again pathetic Spanish skills, I was introduced to Javiera who swore she didn’t know much English, but then proceeded to enthrall me in an hour and a half long discussion about the differences in student political parties and her ideological vision for the education system. A first year Sociology student, and a member of Izquierda Autonoma (Independent Left), the party that is currently in control of CONFECh (Confederation of Students of Chile) headed by Gabriel Boric who was elected several months ago. We shared views for a more just education model and above all, it felt empowering to meet another student seemingly far away from me who believes and wants similar things in this world.

* * *

As an homage to social media - one of the key tools of the Chilean student movement, and of similar movements across the Americas and the world - I am re-posting Javiera’s facebook status, as an example of just why it continues to be important to fight for a free and fair education:

"Gratuita, igualitaria, de calidad, sin lucro, sin los empresarios, de control comunitario, colectiva, colaborativa, que no sea un bien de consumo, que no sea considerada una inversión personal, en síntesis, de HEGEMONÍA pública. ¿Se entiende? o hay que hacerlo con manzanitas?

Si no sabe que es hegemonía, en breves palabras se reduce a la capacidad de dirección, guía o como quiera llamarle que tiene el pueblo para la conquista del Estado. La dictadura del proletariado, entonces, sería la consecuencia misma de un proceso de hegemonía popular. Para eso queremos la educación, no para otra cosa.”

And the translation:

"Free, equal, quality, non-profit, not employers, community control, collective, collaborative, other than a consumer, who is not considered a personal investment, in short, of public Hegemony. Do you understand? or you have to do with apples?

If you do not know it’s hegemony, briefly comes down to leadership, guidance or whatever you have to call the people to conquer the state. The dictatorship of the proletariat, then, would be the direct consequence of a process of popular hegemony. That’s what we want education, not for anything else.”


6.18.12 - Hunger Strike @ Universidad del Mar, Reñaca

we’re all universities here, no?

we’re all paying out of pocket, no?

we’re all not getting subsidies, no?

forget the cliche fight between public and private

we all want a fair education.

Photos from the students of U. del Mar’s occupation and hunger strike at their campus in Reñaca. Barricades made of chairs to stop people from entering the campus from multiple entrances, incredible banners and signs, and the hunger strikers themselves.

As of today (Tuesday), they have been on a hunger strike for 5 days.

* * *

Monday morning I woke up before the sun rose to catch a bus to Reñaca to hopefully meet some students at Universidad del Mar who I had seen in a youtube video* just a few days before, announcing they were to go on hunger strike to demand that their university cut their corporate ties. They are calling for the resignation of their Board of Directors (in the last week, 2 members have already resigned, but the students are still demanding full resignation), and the Ministry of Education of Chile to audit the misappropriation of funds that was reported by former head of the University. I was interested to know what they were fighting for, how they were doing it, and how they were doing (physically) - honestly. Walking with my friend from where the bus had dropped me off, we nearly missed the campus, but we looked up and were met with colored banners, the largest one that we were able to read simple stated "EN TOMA" (in occupation). It seems we had arrived.

We met Octavio outside near the security desk where we waited to enter. He explained to us a little about the students, and after about 45 minutes, led us inside. It looks a typical private university, lots of large glass windows, super clean tiled floors, and neatly organized classrooms. It was only missing one thing - students. Another thing; every entrance or exit to the campus except for one, was blocked by piles of chairs and desk. Signs hung from every railing, and upon peeking into classrooms, many students were taking naps in their sleeping bags and simply occupying. It was quiet, and clean, organized and well-thought out. We even found a bulletin board explaining which rooms were designated for sleeping, entertainment, etc.

I see a sign outside a classroom that reads ‘it is prohibited to bring food into this room, it is prohibited to talk about food in this room outside,’ and I understand that this is where the students on hunger strike have stationed themselves. My friend (and translator for the day) Lucas and I enter, and I timidly give the shortest introduction of myself in Spanish that I have ever attempted giving. They laugh a little and we sit together in a tight circle on the carpeted floor. I meet 10 students of varying academic disciplines and am specifically introduced to the four hunger strikers; Raul Soto, Camila Beaumont, Loretta Manzo, and Fernando Ovando. Nearly all of them are drinking a nutrient-enhanced Gatorade solution from styrofoam cups, and they look quite tired. They tell me that after the first few days that your body aches, but you cannot feel the hunger and that being together helps keep their their psychological energy strong.

Eric, one of the 10 students I met that day, explains to me that Raul is the “mad man” behind the idea for a hunger strike. Camila, who has been pretty shy until this moment looks over to Raul and he exclaims that it was in fact both their idea. She smiles with the recognition. I asked Raul what was the one thing I should know about their struggle and their situation and he said the following, “Private universities should not be alienated, look!, we share together, we work together, we care for one another. It’s not just the public universities that work this way.”

They asked me about what I do back home in NYC, and why I came all the way to Chile, why I even care. For me, this was simple; we’re all students, we all want an education, and we’re all fighting for an equal and accessible chance at one.

I took their portraits (on film ~ you’ll all have to wait for those pictures…) and upon saying goodbye, they gave me some of the strongest hugs I have ever received from strangers. Friends make you strong, and solidarity - even with seeming strangers - makes you stronger.

*Social media is incredible isn’t it?

check out TomaNoticias; their Wordpress site, for more info and to follow their strike and follow them on Twitter

6.14-6.16.12 - Andes and Meat

Landscape shots and the perfect burger

* * *

I cannot stop obsessing over the fact that you can see the mountains (not just any mountains but the god-damn ANDES) from nearly every intersection. I guess for Chileans they are are just “mountains” though…

First and second are near Manquehue station on the metro, of snow-capped peaks and of an extinct volcano respectively. The fourth is a shot of a cloud-covered peak in La Reina neighborhood.

Last but not least, this delicious burger that I was forced to eat with a knife and fork. Must give a healthy amount of appreciation to Kevin K. for taking me to this gem of a burger joint, and Cody S. for acquainting me with Kevin. Believe it or not, but under that heap of multicolored sauces, lies the most perfect burger on this planet. This treat is actually Peruvian, and it’s called a hamburgesa campesina and it pretty much includes everything; mozzarella, bacon, guacamole, tomatoes and these delicious fried potato bits.