Students at the Presidencial Palace

Presidential Palace: Salon Rojo

Class 2002

Supper time

The kitchen people

El Romeral Mine

City of La Serena

Pisco Elqui

Coquinbo Bay

Patio Colonial, La Serena

Cajon del Maipo, Santiago

Jinete de Los Andes

Chilean Aguila (Eagle)

Penalolen, Santiago

Atardecer en Santiago

Study Abroad: Chile 2004

Months of preparations, readings and research papers were over. The exhausting academic training at Evergreen State College was finally complete. The long rainy days and cold nights were left behind. After 16 long hours of flight, the group had finally arrived at the south of the world. They were in Chile.

Most students in this program studied for two quarters the historical political, economic, cultural, and social struggles of Chile. The program provided students an unparalleled opportunity to continue their academic work in a context that moved beyond the boundaries of the classroom. Through the various activities the group engaged in, they were now able to experience, more tangibly, the reality and diversity of the issues facing Chile, as it establishes and asserts itself in an increasingly dynamic world order, at the beginning of a new millennium.

The Language School

A fundamental component of the program was an intensive language study, essential to the students operating within the Chilean culture. The Spanish instructors, Alexandra and Andrea, along with Dr. Gilbert, employed a strong pedagogical approach to their teaching. The content of the Spanish classes focused on facilitating the group in performing daily functions and in providing students with the language capacity necessary to conduct the type of research they were to accomplish.

One of the methods the teachers chose was to immerse students in a real world setting, requiring them to practice their language skills outside of the classroom, with teacher assistance and guidance. Using this approach, the students divided into-groups according to their level of knowledge of the Spanish language visiting street fairs, museums, cultural, educational and industrial centers.

The students then conducted social and cultural research using the skills acquired in these classes. This pedagogical approach brought the group closer to the people and immersed then into the culture of Chile in a way that would otherwise have been more complicated to achieve.

While staying in Santiago, the country's capitol city, the students were able to visit some of the most important and interesting places in Chile. The following are descriptions of a few of the places and people students visited while staying in Santiago, the country's capitol city.

The Presidential Palace

The first official activity of the program consisted of a visit to the Presidential Palace, commonly known, as La Moneda.
Dressed formally, and accompanied by Spanish language teachers, students walked the main areas of the Presidential Palace, while a stuff member introduced them to architecture, art, history and political functions of each of the building's many sections. The visit to La Moneda put in place several historical, cultural and political elements the students had previously studied in preparation to their departure to Chile.

Vineyard Cousiño Macul

Students also visited Viña Cousiño Macul, a prestigious winery created around the middle of the nineteenth-century (1856), with vines brought from France. Today, wine production is an important economic activity of Chile. Wine and other agricultural exports generate many jobs and are essential to the country's economic growth. Chilean red wines, mainly Merlots, are highly appreciated not only, for their delightful flavors but also, for their antacid elements, which help to prevent heart disease.A tour to the physical plant of the vineyard included a historical explanation of wine production. The group also listened to Information about the distillation, bottling and commercialization of the different types of wines produced in Chile.

Trip to the North

In addition to the many other activities in Santiago, the program traveled to the northern port of Coquimbo, to experience yet another aspect of the Chilean culture and economy. The group stayed in a place called La Herradura (Horseshoe), a picturesque area that served as a center of operation for the program's busy agenda.

After a visit to the Port and Fish Market of Coquimbo, the group toured the entire Bay of La Herradura in the Octopus, a scientific research boat belonging to the Marine Biology School at the Catholic University of Chile. The Octopus does monitoring of the worming effects of El Niño y la Niña in that area of the Pacific. The tour allowed young scholars from the group interested in marine biology, environmental studies and ecology to grasp information and knowledge about coastal Chile.

Mineralogical Museum

Program activities in Coquimbo and La Serena started with a visit to the Mineralogical Museum Ignacio Domeyko, a branch of the Mining & Engineering Department of the University of La Serena.

The Museum has almost 7000 mineralogical samples collected from different mining districts from the region, the country and from abroad. Clusters of silver from Chañarcillo, original gold minerals from the Indio mine and Lapislázulis in Chile, can be fund in addition to diamonds from Brazil and South Africa.

The volume and quality of the minerals found in the Museum, who's origan goes back to the creation of the School of Mines in 1887, by the Polish scientist Ignacio Domeyko, provides an attractive cultural center for education, cultural diffusion and tourism.

El Romeral

The next academic activity consisted of a visit to the important iron-mining center "El Romeral". Located North of La Serena, close to the side hills of Los Andes, El Romeral Mine supplies fines, lumps and pellets feed to the domestic and foreign markets. Its proven reserves amount to 44,5 million tons with an average iron content of 49.1% and a cut-off grade of 30% magnetic iron.

In addition to the mines, El Romeral has maritime concessions, industrial and port installations, fixed and mobile equipment, land and buildings. It also owns water distribution, concessions and rights of way necessary for its business.

The Port of Guayacán, located in the Herradura Bay, is equipped with installations for attending ships of up to 315 meters length, 16.2 meters draught and 50 meters beam. Mining products are shipped from this port to several steel-mills worldwide, the Japanese market being the most important. Other markets are South Korea, Indonesia, Malaysia, Unites States, Germany, Belgium and China.

Valle de Elqui

Starting in the city of La Serena, traveling along route 41, or International Highway Gabriela Mistral, the Evergreen Students had the opportunity to know and visit Valle de Elqui or Valley of Elqui. Along this route there exists some interesting panoramic views, where one can see parched hills, rising from both sides, revealing a lush valley at the center. Also in view the highway, which snakes through the scenery, beckoning one to continue on toward the cordillera of the Andes.

The name of the town is derived from the main product of the region, pisco. Pisco is a grape brandy of high alcoholic grade, and is produced in this valley from grapes that are grown there as well. According to Chilean law, the production of pisco is limited to certain northern regions of the country, where it is the main, if not sole, product. It is, therefore, a significant part of the lives of the people in this region.

Students had the opportunity to visit a pisquera, or factories where pisco is produced. With one section utilizing traditional methods and equipment for production, and the other modern, students were allowed a window into the process of the development and modernization of production in Chile.


Fifty-six kilometers South of La Serena is the located the mining town of Andacollo. With a population of 14.082 and surface of 496 square kilometers, the economy of Andacollo is based on small and medium mining activities being gold, silver and copper the most important ones.

Andacollo is built up between two hills, in the corner of a cliff which is part of the last ramifications of the Andes, 1.100 meters above see level. Its whole-year-sunny climate and its clean skies fully decorated with stars during the night, make Andacollo a pleasant place to visit.

The economy of Andacollo includes an intense extractive process of minerals by a small group of miners, better known as pirquineros, or small co-ops. Their production of gold, silver and copper are processed using old techniques utilized by the Incas, who inhabited the region before the Spanish arrival.

The development of the small and medium mining sectors was accompanied by the utilization of the MARAY, an old pre-Hispanic system used to grind minerals. This technique works with a cylindrical grinding stone that revolves manually within a large bowl that was first made out of stone and later out of concrete. This technique was widely utilized during the 1935-1936 for gold extraction. Today it is still used by some small local miners.

TRAPICHE is a mechanical system used in mining extraction to grind different minerals such as gold, silver and copper. This system has been used since the end of the 19th century.

Religiosity of the people of Andacollo has been evident since the creation of the town. Everyfirst Sunday of October people gather together in a well-known procession to carry Virgin de Andacollo from its historical Basilica built in 1893 to a place where religious dances are performed. Today, this religious celebration gathers almost 80.000 people from the region and the rest of the country.

Between December 23 and 27 of every year people from Andacollo, celebrate another religious festivity. This time, the Fiesta Grande of La Virgen del Rosario. The figure of Virgin of Andacollo is carried to a sanctuary where inhabitants of Andacollo and from other region of Chile pray, dance and bring offerings to the Virgin. This festivity has also become an attractive tourist and cultural event, sometimes exceeding the capacity of the town to host all of the visitors.


From the Andes the group traveled back to the Pacific Ocean, to a town called Tongoy. This is an old coastal fishing area surrounded by summer residences and newly developed resorts. Tongoy comes alive during the months of September to February (Spring and Summer in Chile). The rest of the year the town becomes very quiet and the only economic activity is fishing done by the local fisherman who sell their products in La Serena and Coquimbo.


These examples are only a few that represent the diversity and quality of the invaluable academic experiences, as well as life experiences, for participants in this Study Abroad Program to Chile.
This program is an excellent opportunity for students to gain a powerful dimension in their professional and personal lives, the firsthand knowledge and experience of another culture, another reality; the experience of Chile