Global Classroom by Ainsley Cook

You could definitely say we were immersed during our time in Chile. Contemporary Chilean history is all around Santiago and the University. We would often pass by La Moneda, the president’s building and the site of the military coup in 1973. I lived very close to Plaza de la Dignidad (formerly Plaza Italia) where a lot of the city comes together. Historically this has been a place of convergence for protesters, and it was always occupied while we were there after the social revolution started. One day in class, we even took a walking tour of campus which is full of history. Our professor showed us where the attacks of 1973 took place on campus. We saw the building where many historical figures had given speeches. We even passed by the National Stadium, where people were detained and tortured during the dictatorship. We were surrounded by history living in Santiago.

It was also an incredible experience to witness the beginning of a social movement, particularly when it had so much to do with the history we were learning about. Seeing and hearing from the people who have been affected by Chile’s history put everything into context. Instead of reading about something that happened before we were born, we got to see the effects of it up close and personal. We even had class discussions and essays about the current events—it made my classes seem more relevant than ever before.

I don’t think I’ve ever experienced anything quite as historically profound as the social  movement in Chile. I know that the things I saw and heard will be an important part of Chile’s future. It is likely a new constitution will come from this, changing the face of their government. These are the kinds of things that will end up in their history books one day, and I am excited I got to experience it. I will definitely bring these lessons home with me and share them in the hopes we can all be more aware of what goes on in the rest of the world.

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