Sunday, June 22, 2014

Wednesday, June 18

Today was an incredibly busy day. First I had school until 2:30. We got out early because Chile was playing in the World Cup at 3 and they wanted to give us time to go home and watch the game. I went over to Pablo’s house with Nico, Vicente, and Fernanda.
We sat around intently watching the whole game. Chile beat Spain 2-0, which is a pretty huge deal considering Spain is the former world champion. After the game I said thank you and goodbye to everyone really quick and then ran over to the Jumbo where the San Martin family picked me up so we could go to the center of town to see the crazy celebration.
The whole family had painted their faces and were wearing Chile jerseys and had horns and noisemakers and a big Chilean flag. Nancy drove into the center honking the horn and I was blowing the trumpet out the window. All the other cars were honking to in celebration. In the center of town there was a lot of traffic and all the cars were honking and we followed a big flat been truck with a bunch of people in the back shouting and cheering and playing a huge drum. Sally and I stuck our heads out the sunroof and waved the flag around and shouted and waved and blew kisses to the people in the streets.
It was an uncontrollable happiness that was palpable in the whole city. It was an amazing feeling to experience not as a foreigner but as a Chilean. I never said “you guys won”. I shouted at the top of my lungs “WE WON”.
We went back to the San Martin house for a while, and then Manuel and Lilian came and picked up Sally and I. We went back to my house so I could change clothes and then at 8:30 Manuel dropped us off at a Rotary meeting. I hadn’t been invited to the meeting, but I had asked Monchito if I could go to one meeting before I left Chile (I have only been invited to one this whole year). I feel that it is my obligation to tell the Rotary club that was responsible for me this whole year that they have completely abandoned me and have not helped me, included me in their Rotary events, or even asked me how I am, in this entire year. We ate dinner with them and all 30 or so Rotarians that were there were super nice. They asked Sally and me how we liked Chile, and complimented our Spanish. I only wish I could have met them before, but they never took an interest in me before. I got up and gave my presentation. I started by telling them about how amazing my year here in Chile has been. Then I stopped and said that my year had been perfect in every way except for one. I proceeded to tell them how I felt, tell them the story of how I went to the hospital and they hadn’t even known, and finally, I made it very clear that I wasn’t mad or trying to make them feel bad about themselves, I was simply telling them how I had been treated so that this wouldn’t be repeated in the future. I had written a speech, but at the beginning I decided it would be better to just speak from the heart, and so that’s what I did. After I finished, about half of them seemed to understand me and want to do better. The other was angry. A man responded to me saying that Rotary had done all that it was required to do, and that I had no right to make these claims of feeling abandoned. I told him that I didn’t want to be treated as some business deal, and that I had come in hopes of making life long connections with these Rotarians. Then the fireworks started, and people were yelling about how my accusations weren’t fair and others were yelling that all this was Monchito’s fault (which honestly a big part of it is but he works so much that he really can’t handle all the responsibility) and others at Sally’s table were just calling me a “bruja” under their breath. A lot of people were yelling for the topic to be closed because they were tired and didn’t want the meeting to drag on too long. I felt very unimportant and unheard, and I almost started crying because I was so frustrated. However, after I finished by thanking them for giving me this amazing year in Chile and urging them to take more of an interest in the future exchange students and take advantage of the opportunity to share their culture with people of other countries, a lot of Rotarians came up to me and thanked me for being the only student in the history of the club brave enough to get up and tell them the truth. They told me that they hadn’t even known that this problem existed and that now that they knew they would definitely make more of an effort. Others refused to even say goodbye to me as I left. I guess I should have been expecting this sort of result. I can’t change everyone’s minds, and I just have to be grateful for the people that did understand me and hope that they make the change that needs to be made. Manuel came to pick us up, dropped Sally off at her house (she had been there as my moral support), and then I went home and went to sleep around midnight.

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