Friday, May 2, 2014

Saturday, April 26

Today was the Rotary district conference in Santiago. We were expected to meet up at the bus at 9 am to go up to Santiago. We got on the bus and said hi to all the Talca kids. We’ve been seeing a lot more of each other lately, so it makes each reunion more fun now and less like seeing long lost cousins. We’re all really close now and there’s no one whom I wouldn’t talk to or sit with at meals. We arrived in Santiago at Clara Flores’s house, who is the president of the exchange program in Chile. We spent about 2 hours just chilling in her house talking and trading pins between exchange students (we all brought way too many pins and now as our exchanges are coming to an end we are trying to get rid of as many as possible). We then went outside to Clara’s giant front yard and practiced what we would have to do during the ceremony. Apparently the district conference is a very important and very formal event among Rotarians in Chile. They had invited all of us so that they could see the strength and beauty of the exchange program and hopefully so that the exchange program in Chile will expand and improve. We rehearsed walking in following the flag bearer of our country and then singing the national anthem on Chile. Apparently Sally and I were the only ones who had taken the time to learn the song, so we put ourselves in the front of the group so it looked like everyone knew it. We then got on the buses and drove a while to get lunch. After lunch we drove a very long time to La Universidad Mayor, which is where the conference would be held.
They put us in this big theater and we practiced a little more entering and lining up on the big stage. Then we went out into the hallway and took some pictures in our blazers.
It was cool that our blazers, once completely empty, are now completely covered in pins from all the people from around the world that we have come into contact with during this year. When they finally called us to line up for the ceremony, we were ready to stop wasting time. We walked in orderly behind our flag bearers and lined up on the stage in front of an auditorium filled with Rotarians, then listened to a few of our peers give speeches about their experience in Chile, a few Rotarians give speeches about the program, and finally, we all sang the himno nacional de Chile (a capella, which made it awkward) and filed out of the auditorium.
From there, it got sad because we weren’t sure if we would all be together again.  A lot of us are going to Easter Island, but for those who aren’t this would be the last time they saw their exchange family. We hugged and there were a few tears, and then I got on the bus to Santiago. It dropped us off at a metro stop. Cassidy, Katie H, and I had planned on going over to Madeline’s house to watch a movie because we weren’t really feeling up to Alex’s huge birthday party, but he kind of begged us to come and we couldn’t say no, so we traveled 2 and a half hours in metro and then in bus with him and the group of people who were going to his party. We finally arrived at his house around 9. When he told us there wouldn’t be food at the party, we decided immediately to go walk over to a nearby Pizza Hut to eat. Vincent, Louis, Katie H, Cassidy, Catherin, and I went over to get pizza. When we got back, the party had started, with all of Alex’s Chilean friends and also a bunch of exchange students. A lot of people were drinking, but I was scared that Rotary would find out about this party (because there were so many exchange students there) and punish us, so I was careful not to drink anything at all. I had a good time just laughing at the hilarious activities of the drunken people and talking to Alex’s cool Chilean friends. A lot of our friends went to sleep early because they were tired from such a long day, so when Brenna and I went up to go to sleep around 3:30, there were no spaces left. I pushed Alexis over a little bit on the couch and shared it with her, and Brenna slept at the foot of the bed Cassidy and Katie were sleeping in. It wasn’t a comfortable position, but I was tired, so I slept anyway.

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