Mes: octubre 2015

My Program of Interest

I am applying to study a Master’s degree in Linguistics at the Universidad de Santiago de Chile (USACH).  The official program information can be found here, although it’s all in Spanish (but Google Translate should offer to translate it for you if you’re using the Google Chrome browser).

I’ve chosen to study at USACH for several reasons.  It is among the top 3 universities of Chile and ranks internationally among the top 460 universities in the world.  Chile has several wonderful private institutions at which I considered applying, but as an educator aiming to participate in the improvement of the public system, I’m proud to say that my entire education, pre-school through undergrad, has taken place within public schools, and I decided to continue that trend after discovering the social commitment that USACH has made to the country.  Since it’s earliest inception in 1849 as the Escuela de Artes y Oficios, the school has been commited to aiding development in Chile.  Today USACH follows the populist tradition of Chile, providing low tuition, scholarships, internships, and various other opportunities for both Chilean and international students.

I have very high hopes of converting my thesis findings into a report that will be of use to MINEDUC (The Ministry of Education in Chile) or CEPAL (The Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean– backed by the United Nations).  Performing my research at USACH is the perfect opportunity to get my foot in the doors of these offices, thanks to the social projects and government involvement found at the university.

I know that this is the right program for what I hope to achieve.  They provide evening courses to facilitate those of us who work during the day, a wealth of opportunities for financial aid, important connections to research opportunities, and a promising environment in which real policies for the development of Chile and the world can be determined, tested, and evaluated.

Studying linguistics in my second language is by far one of the scariest things I’ve ever signed up for, but I’m excited for the challenge.  The thought of attending classes, performing research, and writing and defending my thesis in my second language is daunting, but I feel motivated and prepared.  The potential reward– policy reforms that benefit the low-resource public schools’ English programs throughout the urban and rural systems across Chile– is too beautiful to turn down.

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Life In Chile

I’ve been living in Santiago, Chile for the last 3 years (Since Nov. 2012).  It’s been an amazing change in my life that has allowed me to reach a professional level of fluency in the Spanish language, experience a new and interesting culture, see some of the most amazing places on our planet, and meet some of the most beautiful, humble, and loving people I’ve ever come across.

Chile is a small country that occupies a large portion of the West coast of South America.  Many Chileans refer to it as a ”noodle”– it’s long and thin.  It reaches 2,670 miles from north to south, and only 217 miles from East to West at it’s widest point.  This shape gives Chile an amazing variety of climates and industries.  The north of the country is mainly desert, and is rich in copper.  The central zone of Chile is considered to have a Mediterranean climate, great for agriculture and wine production, and the south is rich in forests.  Chile is home to the world’s driest desert, the Atacama, as well as several active volcanoes and many lakes.  It is home to a great deal of space observatories, has a variety of shellfish unique to its waters, and is the world’s 5th largest wine producer.

I love Chile, its culture, and its people.  However, it is also plagued with many serious problems.  According to the World Bank, the richest 10% of Chileans capture 42 of every 100 dollars of disposable income in the country.  Chile has the largest income gap between the rich and poor out of all of the OECD states.  The public school system in Chile is disappointing, although there are exceptions, and this drives many families to seek out private school educations for their children.  A main factor in choosing a private school is the English program offered.  However, many private schools charge around one month’s minimum wage per student.  This makes it difficult for many families to access a decent education for their children. Seeing this problem among my own students and their families has motivated me to direct my research towards improvement in this area.  I have been educated my entire life via the public system, and while my education hasn’t been elite, it’s definitely been more than acceptable.  I would never have known that this isn’t the norm without having left the United States.

Chile is a new immigrant destination, and as such, I’ve had the unique experience of living here with students and professionals from France, Finland, Italy, Spain, Argentina, Brazil, and Germany.  My circle of friends here includes people from all over South and Central America, Europe, and the United States.  Being an immigrant in another country has truly opened my eyes to a situation many of us don’t spend much time thinking about, and has inspired me in ways I never could have imagined.

My life in Santiago, the capital of Chile, is a whirlwind of learning, teaching, and sharing.  I wake up every morning in the shadow of the Andes mountains, and race with around 6,000,000 people to get to work on time.  I look out over the Pacific ocean every other weekend and visit the bustling open air markets to get my groceries, and I had the enormous pleasure of spending my 24th birthday in the driest desert in the world, the Atacama.  I still haven’t mastered the Cueca, or learned how to make a proper empanada, but studying this Master’s guarantees me at least another 2 years in Chile, so I have lots of time to practice!

What a journey!