Monday, August 28, 2006

Quick update...

Okay, so I have a little time left in the internet cafe in Los Andes, the city closest to Pocuro, which is south of Santiago and I just wanted to once again let everyone know that things are going well.

So much has gone on since we´ve arrived it would take much more than the 15 mintues I have left to explain it all, but I can tell you for sure that Chile is so beautiful. Seeing the Andes mountains is sight in itself and just seeing the different way in which people live is insane, a good insane, but different for sure. We´ve been in Pocurro since Saturday afternoon and being out in the campo (countryside) is a stark contrast to the big city of Santiago. The house here is right next to the chapel and is super cute with a lemon tree out front. Here in the small city we have managed to do quite a bit, just like in the city. We even went to mass in Spanish, the first mass in a foreign country for me. I´ve even been to a birthday party here, very similar to the states and the cake was just as good if not better. And we went to an agriculture school here and I helped the kids learn the countries, very interesting since they were more interested in getting my phone number.

Well, I only have 3 minutes left on the computer, but all I can say is life here sure is different, but it´s wonderful at the same time. A life much slower and peaceful without the worry of going to school and working. I leave on Wednesday for Bolivgia for language school, so I´ll check my mail and such then and get back to you as soon as I can. Peace!

:-) natalie

Thursday, August 24, 2006

We´ve arrived!!

Hello everyone-
We have arrived safely in Santiago, Chile!! We´ve been here a full28 hours and I already I can tell life here in the city is crazy. The house here in Santiago is small but comfy and is right next to a bunch of shops and botellerias (beer shops). We arrived here at 5am on Wednesday and watched the sun rise as the Andes mountains came into view, what a sight. Now I thought I had seen some really high mountains, but nothing compares the the majestic view of the Andes.

Yesterday after a much needed nap, Roy (one of the current associates) took us to his English class at a local public high school. We were able to help him with his lesson plan of teaching the kids about tourism, as they asked us a bunch of questions about boyfriends, music and the like. We then went to a half private, half public school (a Holy Cross School) and helped with Tom and Cailtin´s (again, current associates) English class for elementary school kids. We even played duck-duck-goose with them, it was crazy, yet lots of fun.

We then took the scenic route home on the bus, ate a quick dinner and watched Eraser in Spanish, crappy in English and crappy in Spanish. So far things are going well and I´m really enjoying the Chilean lifestyle. Today, we are again with Roy, but this time we are at St. George´s, another Holy Cross school, but this one is full of dinero. In fact, we´re using the computers here and if I end up working here, I´ll be online all the stinking time!! Class starts in like 20 minutes, so I better wrap this up, but I just wanted to let everyone know that I¨m here safe and things are going well.

Oh, one last note. The flight here wasn´t all that bad. It was long, but I feel like I´ve been on longer flights. And I have yet another stamp in my passport!! Hecks yes!! I miss everyone like crazy, but know that I¨m here safe and I¨ll keep you updated on my whearabouts and how to get ahold of me as soon as I know that information. Until next time...

:-) Natalie

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Prior to departure

Well, orientation is officially over. Now, we're just playing the waiting game until we take off on Tuesday. It's funny because for awhile there time seemed as if it was standing still and now I have no idea where the past three weeks have gone. They've gone to learning about cultural sensitivity, trips to Meijer and Walmart, Silverhawks games, a few bars here and there, more lectures about globilization and countless meals with priests and seminarians. It has been a wonderful experience despite the fact that I was at times bored to tears. I have made such wonderful friends here with not only with my housemates and the domestic associates, but with our director and assistant director as well. While we're down in Chile I hope to keep in touch with all of these wonderful people (so, for those of you reading this, keep in touch!). :-)

People have asked me why I am choosing to give up the next two years of my life to become a volunteer in some country far away and I have this to say: Why not? I also don't look at it thinking that I am giving up something, but gaining a lifetime of experience. This is the period in my life where I have nothing but time to spare. My passion in life is helping, serving, working so that other people's lives may be enriched. That is by no means the whole answer, but it gives a little insight into why I am a Holy Cross Associate.

Well, I have one more weekend in the US and I plan on spending it with an old friend, Stephen. He's on his way to Notre Dame from Detroit and we're headed to Chicago. This should be a good time! Perhsps we can go and see a show or a game.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

And so it beings... (again)

Dear family, friends and other associates: I have waited long enough to write this lovely internet version of a journal, aka a blog, but now is the time to begin this. Well, I had one version going, but Michelle deleted it while trying to show my something, so here it goes again. I admit I have procrastinated on this last link to all of my friends and whatnot because if I did not start a blog, then I would not actually be leaving the country. Well, the flight was just booked today, so I figure I should begin to write my cyber journal.

So, let me begin by giving a brief synopsis of training here at Notre Dame: God country... So far we have sat around listening to speakers, chatting with priests, playing crazy animal games, going to the local bars (that's a whole other story in itself), the Potawanami Zoo, Chicago, Wanda the Honda, South Bend Silverhawks, and most importantly Moreau Seminary. Granted, this list does not do justice to exactly what we've been doing, but it's enough for now. Let's just say that some of it has been informative, while some of it has not been, but hey when you're leaving for two years I guess two weeks of training is fair.

So let me dish a little on what I've learned thus far: 1.) Housemates: Katie, Patrick and Michelle are all awesome people. We all bring a different 'flava' to the house and without each other the Chilean house would be bland. Basically, go Chileans! In fact, we just got back from a dinner/dessert excursion and it's so awesome to hear where everyone is coming from and what we all expect from each other. I already know that I'm going to learn so much from each one of these people. 2.) Culture shock: we're all going to get it, go figure. 3.) Weather: hot and humid do not go together, basically for the first week everyone was pretty sweaty (and mosquitoes love that!). 4.) Reflection: I truly am blessed to be here and for such supportive family and friends. I would not be here without you all and I thank you for everything! Okay, enough being mushy, but it had to be said.

On more important matters we have finally scheduled our airfare and travel details. I leave the country on August 22nd, fly into Cincinnati then onto Miami. From there we go to Bogota and then to Santiago for a week before we travel to Cochabamba, Bolivia for language school. Then it's back to Chile in December to begin our service.
Well kiddos, it's getting late here in God country, so for now until we meet again in cyberland, goodnight!

:-) Natalie