Abroad in South America

Seven students are spending the 2011 spring semester studying abroad in Santiago, Chile, in the newly established Wake Forest Southern Cone Program.

The University has partnered with the Universidad Diego Portales [UDP]. The Wake Forest faculty-led program includes home stays with host families, classes with Chilean students and travel throughout the region.

Junior political science major David Banerjea answers questions about the trip from South America.

What are you studying?

While every student has a slightly different schedule, all our classes deal specifically with Chile or Latin America. In our two required political science classes, we look respectively at the political and economic climate of Latin America from past to present, and at human rights, which uses the Southern Cone as its case study.

In addition to the two required political science classes, we take courses on art and dictatorship in Chile, poverty and economic development in Chile, and indigenous poetry. Art and dictatorship examines art under Chilean dictatorship and studies how it can be used as a form of protest. The class is taught by Raul Zurita, the 2000 winner for the Premio Nacional de Literatura in Chile.

We also have the option of finding an internship in Santiago. In conjunction with UDP, there are a host of local nonprofit organizations, government ministries, and think tanks where students in our program can apply for an internship position. The Fulbright Commission of Chile, the Ministry of Education, and the nonprofit House of Peace are just a few of the internship opportunities available.

Describe a typical day.

There is no typical day. For the most part classes are held in the morning, leaving the afternoon and evening free for us to explore Santiago. We rely on transantiago, the bus and metro system, to get around the city. It was daunting at first, but traveling within the city has become extremely easy and convenient now that we understand the system.

Inaugural Southern Cone Study Abroad Class, Spring 2011

  • David Banerjea, junior, political science major
  • Sara Gonzalez, junior, Spanish major
  • Jade Harris, sophomore, psychology major
  • Lauren Martinez, sophomore, political science major
  • Margaret Tartala, junior, economics major
  • Sarah Thompson, junior, anthropology major
  • Henderson Trefzger, senior, Spanish major

In a city of approximately five million that is surrounded by the Andes on all sides, there are an abundance of things to do. From hiking in the foothills and mountains of the Andes to exploring the rich culture of Santiago, there is something for everyone. As a group we have gone hiking, visited various art and photography galleries, spent the weekend at the beach, and visited Valparaiso, a protected UNESCO world heritage site.

What do you want to do before you leave?

In Santiago there are many wonderful museums, galleries and festivals that we look forward to visiting. One museum we want to see in particular is the Museum of Memory because it corresponds to our studies in human rights. We hope to do more at Cajon de Maipu, and go white water rafting and zip lining.

Outside of Santiago trips to Easter Island and San Pedro de Atacama have already been organized; however, many of us also hope to travel south to Patagonia or north to Bolivia and Peru. While we have visited Valparaiso once, we would like to return to the city and further explore this historically and culturally rich city that was decreed a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2003.

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