The following blog was written by Aryana Bolourian, a rising Junior in the Bonner Leaders Program at the Campus Y. Aryana works at the Teen Center as a Bonner; she is working with AISEC in Santiago Chile this summer through the Bonner International Summer of Service internship.
I had no idea my time in Chile would fly by so fast. While, there were times where I did want to come home –I missed my friends. My phone and debit card were stolen, and I felt unsafe and uneasy. My body ached for summer heat as the winter dragged on and the nights got colder—my experience was incredible and I didn’t want to see it end. It’s like when you’re eating a chocolate cake…I chewed slowly, appreciating every last bite/day I had. But, when the cake was almost finished, I realized I was still hungry for more, so I changed my flight and stayed an extra week in Chile.
My last full weekend, I decided to take a trip across the Andes with a couple other volunteers over to Mendoza, Argentina. One of my favorite components of AIESEC is that it is an organization that exists all around the globe, so the volunteers I worked with were from Puerto Rico, Mexico, Brazil, Turkey, Hong Kong, Colombia, and England. I was able to travel to Argentina with people from around the world, and that made the experience even more exhilarating…well, except for the bus ride. What was supposed to be an eight hour trip, turned into thirteen when we were stuck at the border for five hours. We waited an hour for our tour bus to go through customs and then another hour for them to check the luggage. For the next three hours, we sat, we slept, we watched a full movie on the bus, and we prayed that we wouldn’t be stuck in the middle of the mountains for much longer.
When we finally arrived in Argentina, it was late at night, but because we had rested on the bus, we decided to explore Mendoza’s nightlife. Somehow, we ended up in a nightclub with red leather seating and pillows shaped like hearts, and just in time for a concert, of some cover singer, to begin. The next day, we rode horses in a tour group and were surrounded by the Andes and fields. We rode through sunset, and then returned to a log cabin where we were served an Argentinian barbecue, with some of the best meat I have ever tasted (Argentina is known for their meet and wine)! The next day was our final full day, or so we thought, and we wanted to see more of Mendoza. We took a bus tour around the city and got off at different stops such as Parque General San Martin and Cerro de la Gloria. We were scheduled to bus out the next afternoon, but that night we were told that the border between Chile and Argentina was closed due to snow. I stayed an extra two days before I decided I needed to get back to Chile, so I flew back. On my extra days I visited vineyards and an olive oil factory. The border remained closed for five days!
Last Days In Chile
Since I had already changed my flight, I had some extra time in Santiago. I spent the majority of my days sightseeing with my wonderful host, Estefanía. Her and I are close in age, and it was a lot of fun exploring Santiago with her. We went to Cerro Santa Lucia and hiked a hill (but more like a mountain) called Manquehue…I couldn’t move from bed the next day. I also visited Pablo Neruda’s home, one of Chile’s most influential poets before his death in 1973, and the University de Chile’s planetarium. On my last full day, I went back to Protectora and surprised the kids and the tías, who had all thought I was already back home in the USA. I spent the day playing with the kids and sharing laughs for one last time before I gave them all hugs goodbye…and I didn’t cry this time! I sincerely urge every single university student to spend some time abroad, whether it is academic or volunteer based. I am so glad I listened to the countless students older than me who urged me to do the same, and I hope that this is only my first of many trips abroad.
Please Consider Donating
I’ve been home for three days now, and last night found out some horrible news. The center where I worked at was robbed in resources and cash that amounts to approximately $15,000 USD. Thieves broke in late at night and stole everything from toilet paper to portable heaters (as there is no central heating and it is currently winter) to computers. In addition, they stole all the food for the upcoming months that is used for the kids’ breakfast, lunch, and snack. This organization gave me a summer I will never forget and allowed me to making long-lasting friendships with the tías I worked with. Being back in the US, I feel trapped, not knowing how I can do my part to get them back on their feet again. So, I’ve created a gofundme account! If you’ve enjoyed reading my blogs or want to give to an NGO that devotes itself to giving to at-risk youth, please consider donating or even sharing this link: https://www.gofundme.com/2gren78 Thank you!