Kristina Pistone on Watching the World Cup in Chile (and Argentina)

Hello everyone, greetings from Chile!  Sorry for the long delay; things have been fairly busy.  It’s a little hard to believe that I’m now officially halfway through my Fulbright grant (you may remember that in the southern hemisphere, the academic year runs March-November rather than September-June, because of seasons).  For anyone who would like to read about my work and life in Chile so far, I have a more frequently updated blog at travelingscientist.wordpress.com.

Regarding my project, things have gone somewhat slower than I had hoped, due in large part to a number of only-in-South-America setbacks, such as “official data” which is blatantly and inexplicably not quality-checked, meetings with relevant persons canceled and not rescheduled, and general unavailability of instruments needed to calibrate the other instruments.  (Not that things have completely stalled; if you’re interested in my project I have a few posts on my own blog about that!)  Fortunately (from my perspective), the feeling of unproductivity in our projects seems to be common among many of us Fulbrighters here in Chile (or perhaps is just indicative that many of us had far too ambitious projects plans).  But there has definitely been no shortage of cultural experiences.  One of the major work delays this month was also one of the biggest cultural experiences: the World Cup, or the (Copa) Mundial as it is commonly called.

As I described on my blog, Chile’s first game was played on a Friday evening, so basically the entire city shut down early (well, earlier than they normally do on a Friday afternoon).  As with any sport, not everyone was into it, so I still went to my mapudungun class, but as this is close to the city center, we could tell when the game was over (Chile won) by enormous cheers coming from outside.  The second win 2-0 against Spain (the reigning champions from 2010, so quite a surprise) which secured their space in the octavos de final was on a Wednesday– I didn’t even bother to go into work that day, even before they won.  People would disappear in the middle of the day to watch a number of other countries play as well, particularly Colombia and Germany, although oddly not neighbors Argentina– more on that later).

The saddest experience was Chile’s match against Brasil (on a Saturday, so no official work conflict).  After 1-1 (which, Chileans will remind you, was the product of an inadvertent own-goal on their side, Brasil couldn’t even score against Chile!!), extra time, and 4/5 penalty kicks, Chile’s fifth attempt hits the post and Brasil advances.  After the partying and vandalism following the two wins in the group stage (there was the threat of a transit strike during the third game against the Netherlands because of vandalism to the buses– I guess “fortunately” they lost, though?), this last-minute loss/elimination left the city of ~7 million people completely silent.  I know of no cultural event in the US that could provoke such a united response among nearly everyone in the country.  But the team returned home as heroes, including taking selfies with la presidenta.

Chile Mundial

(photo credit Katy Indvik)

As an undergrad (also at UCSD!) I studied abroad in Buenos Aires, so I have a certain affection for that city and Argentina as a whole.  From the beginning I suspected that statistically, Buenos Aires was going to be a more interesting place to be during the final than Santiago, and after delaying because I was trying to convince other people to come with me, I bought my plane ticket the week before the final (right after Argentina secured their spot in one of the last two matches).

In the semifinal match Argentina v Holland, it was really interesting to see the Chileans rooting for the Dutch.  There is an almost sort of sibling rivalry/resentment between these two countries in particular that I really can’t fully explain.  According to Chile, it surely goes back to Argentina stealing land from Chile and cutting off their energy imports, and anyway, Argentine wine totally sucks, you guys; according to Argentina, have you heard what Chile did to Peru and Bolivia? Chile’s pretty terrible, there! This is one of the very few areas in which I will play the role of dumb gringa and say “oh, really? I didn’t know that, that’s interesting, I’ll have to read up on it more” and not get into it any more than that.  Regardless, I was very glad I went to Buenos Aires, even though it resulted in my cell phone being a casualty at the obelisco (PSA: kids, don’t let yourselves get distracted for even a second, even when they steal your hat.  Or maybe grow a third arm so that you can have one hand on everything at a time, and an extra for the hat-stealing contingency, sigh).  But regardless, it was great to watch the game with people who actually wanted Argentina to win.  And even having lost to Germany, the argentinos were still partying.

Argentina Mundial

Dino Hat

(selfie with my soon-to-be-stolen hat.  It had dinosaur spines down the back and everything…)

Also… I hadn’t noticed it before, but I’m pretty sure the Biblioteca Nacional in Buenos Aires was heavily inspired by another library… http://www.buenosaires.travel/Biblioteca-Nacional.aspx

Introduction to Katie Kinsella – ETA to Colombia

Hello, UCSD! My name is Katie Kinsella, and I will be moving to Cali, Colombia, in 3 weeks with Fulbright’s English Teaching Assistantship Program 2014-2015.

Why did I decide to apply to be an ETA in Colombia?

With learning a language comes confidence and empowerment. The ability to speak English in Colombia will allow for social mobility within Colombian society in addition to opening a world of opportunities for Colombian adults in our increasingly globalized world. As an ETA, I will aim to encourage students to expand their own horizons and worldviews by learning about the American culture and English language, in the same way that my eyes and heart have been opened to the Latin American region of our world. Research I have conducted as a masters student at UCSD shows that using pop culture in the foreign language classroom can increase student motivation to learn as it further develops students’ media literacy skills, critical thinking skills and trans-cultural skills. As an ETA in Colombia, I will incorporate pop culture and provide a socio-cultural context to language instruction that allows students to discuss and explore social issues and comparisons across cultures.

While I am in Colombia, 20 hours of my week will be spent teaching English and holding conversation clubs at the university. The other 20 hours of my week will be spent on a social project of my choice; the details of this project will come to fruition once I’m in the placement city, but right now my idea is to partner with a local non-profit organization to promote community empowerment among the Afro-Colombian marginalized populations in the neighboring sector, Agua Blanca.

The Fulbright application itself is a daunting process, but don’t let it discourage you. My best advice is to put your heart into it and take advantage of mentors; professors; UCSD’s Fulbright Program Advisor, Zoe; and friends and family who are willing to read through your statement of grant purpose to give you feedback. Since I found out I was accepted back in April, the Fulbright commission has done an amazing job of sending us detailed information about our placement city; assigning us to a specific Fulbrighter from last year with whom we can Skype for an insider’s perspective; and initiating online weekly webinars on what to expect in Colombia, what to bring, the Colombian university environment, and sharing the challenges as well as the successes of those who have come before us. We have been responsible for sending in our medical release form from our doctor, sending copies of our official transcripts to the International Institute of Education, and filling out quite a bit of paperwork and forms to sign, upload and email. Although the details vary from country to country, Fulbright Colombia has purchased our roundtrip plane ticket through their own specific travel advisor and done a great deal of the visa process so all we have to do is show up at the Colombian Consulate in LA to get our visa stamp in our passport. I have truly enjoyed reaching out to past Fulbrighters in Colombia and learning more about my specific role in the university and what social projects they have conducted as well. Before even stepping foot in the country, I feel very connected and welcomed into the Fulbright Colombia community. Let the countdown begin!