Saturday, November 23, 2013

Things I Am Going to Miss, Part 1: My Internship

My time here in Chile is starting to wind to an end, and with that comes the beginning of the goodbyes. I am going to try to do a few blog posts about some of the things I am going to miss most here in Chile, and at the same time provide you all with a view of my more day-to-day experience over the past 4+ months. 

I'm going to start off with my internship. As I have mentioned in an earlier blog post, I was blessed enough to spend a few hours each week working with APARID, a long acronym for an even longer name that translates to Parents' and Friends' Group for the Rehabilitation and Integration of People with Down Syndrome. 

I spent a few hours every Monday evening with the Reading Workshop for 17 young adults (although "young" is relative- some of the participants are my parent's age). In some ways I was a true intern. For example, I would help them with the reading comprehension questions when they didn't understand; they were always really eager to show me their work and get my approval of it; and once in a while they called me "profe," short for professor. But in many ways we were more companions than anything. We sat side-by-side, we joked around, and we talked about their weekend activities, classes, families, and significant others. For the three who are working in the national Congress, I asked them about their jobs, and with the others I talked about their workshops in which they make and sell baked goods and greeting cards. 

I also was lucky enough to see them perform selected scenes from Jesus Christ: Superstar in the Viña del Mar Talent Show for People with Disabilities. Some sang along with the songs while others lip-synced, and they all danced and acted. They did an amazing job!


Receiving the award of participation afterwards
Here's a little bit more about a few of the friends I've made this semester. I would love to tell you about all of them, but I'll restrain myself.

Here in the top picture we've got Maximiliano and Georg, goofin off per usual. They are best buds, along with Felipe, who is in the lower of the two pictures. They are experts in the fist bump and the bro hug: clasp hands, pull together, a few pats on the back, accompanied by the Spanish version of What's up, dude?

This is Giovanna, who is probably the sweetest of the group. Every time she saw me for the first three months she would always say, "Michaela, right? (I nod) Hi! I'm Giovanna!" She especially took to the other volunteer, Pamela, a 60-something woman who is also from the US and who is in Viña with the Mormon church serving as a nurse for all the missionaries. Giovanna always called Pamela "regia" (fancy refined lady) or "joven" (young woman). 

This is Verónica. She is a firecracker! I love her personality, maybe cause she too is a strong determined young woman :)

Here are two of the couples of the group: first are Cristian and Dominique, and below are Constanza y Luis. They are so adorable- ok, sometimes a little too adorable, as they would start making out in class sometimes. I understand, though, because their families are fairly overprotective and they don't have a lot of opportunities to go on dates. They hope to get married and maybe even have kids some day.

I could go on and on, because I love them all, but I'll wrap up this part of the post with a group picture from one of my last days in class:

I also got to go to the Gardening Club on Wednesday afternoons. This group had a really fun dynamic because it was a mixture of kids with down syndrome and their siblings, plus Pamela, who is one of the women who runs APARID and also a mom of several of the kiddos, and Tanchy, the wonderful volunteer who runs the workshop every week. Part of the emphasis was on environmentalism, so our gardening project almost always involved transforming old soda bottles and other "trash" into planting containers for flowers. We also grew some vegetables and herbs in a garden. Basically, I got to play in the dirt for an hour every week with some exuberant little ones, which made me a very happy camper.

Probably my happiest moment in my internship was earning "tía" status. "Tío" and "tía" mean "uncle" and "aunt" but here in Chile are used as a general term for any adult for whom you feel affection.  For example, my host siblings call my mom's boyfriend tío (although I think they also still use "usted" with him, which is the more formal version of "you" as opposed to the less formal "tu"). Basically, señor and señora feel too formal, and the adult's first name feels too casual, so I love that they have a comfortable intermediate term. All this to say- at some point the kids started calling me "tía" and I was so happy I could cry!

So, since I am wrapping up my classes, this past week was my last with APARID. Both Monday and Wednesday the workshops ended early so we could have a small going-away party. They gave me some really sweet cards and going away presents, most of which they made themselves!

Two of the girls even sang a few songs in honor of Tanchy and I, one of which included sign language along with the lyrics. I think it's sufficient to say that I am going to miss them!


  1. I love hearing about all of this and everything you are doing, God is doing crazy wonderful things through you, I love your heart!

    1. Awwwww thanks Katy! I love seeing what He is doing in your life, with your amazing heart for others and for service :)

    2. Love these photos and stories about your work and friendships! Proud of the woman you are! Love, Mom