Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Time for real work

While I’ve been having classes this entire time, I’ll admit that they really aren’t anything to stress about and as far as homework goes, there really isn’t any. But in a few days (2, to be exact) I will actually begin a major project a very important part of my grade here in Chile. They call it ISP. Independent Study Project. And that’s exactly what it is.

We now have a month to conduct our own research projects on whatever topic we choose, in whatever city in Chile we’d like. A lot of students on this program usually just stay in Arica and complete their ISPs here because they don’t have to spend money on traveling, and they already know the location and have contacts here. However, this semester, not a single one of us is staying in Arica, and the majority of us are heading to Temuco in the south of Chile. Other students are going to Santiago (the capital) and Viña (an incredibly beautiful city on the beach). But for me, Temuco was a definite before I even came to Chile. You see, Temuco is where the majority of the Mapuche live, and the idea that I could live with the Mapuche for a month was one of the aspects of this program that drew me in the most.

Having worked with Project Odakniwa for a while now, I knew a bit about the Mapuche before arriving, but I’ve only worked with them indirectly, and have just heard stories about all of the amazing people and their culture. And now the time has finally come for me to experience it for myself!! And lucky for me, I have a few connections in Temuco already, thanks to Project Odakniwa! My friend Chris, who is the founder of PO, is living there with his family, and they’ve invited me to come live in their community for my ISP and have set me up with a host family there as well! Chris’s stepfather also happens to be the lonko, or chief, of the community, but it’s casual… ☺

I’ve decided to focus my ISP on Mapuche naming practices and how their names affect their identity. Not really sure how I came up with this idea, but I’m super excited to learn more about it! Names are such a curious thing, because I don’t think we realize how incredibly important they are and how much they really can affect how someone acts in society, or how someone is treated. (An example here on how names can affect people). How parents choose to name their children is also a part of my research. Is it for religious reasons? To affiliate their children with kin? For aesthetic reasons? Popularity reasons? Maybe they chose to name their child after their favorite movie character? Or their favorite fruit? Who knows! But that’s exactly what I want to find out. Why parents choose to name their children what they do, what their names mean, and if there are any naming ceremonies within the Mapuche culture that still exist. I’m interested in seeing how the Chilean culture and introduction to Christianity have influenced naming practices as well. Lots to find out, and only 4 weeks to do so!

All of my findings will be summed up in a 25 page Spanish essay which I will be presenting on at the end of my 4 weeks. Internet will be pretty limited while I’m living with the Mapuche, so don’t expect many updates. (Sorry mom). But for the last week of my ISP I will actually be going to Pucon, the Canadian like town in southern Chile that I visited on a previous excursion, and I’ll be staying in a hostel there to finish up writing my paper and to have more solid access to internet to finish my research.

I am super super excited for this part of my semester, and I can’t wait to share it all with you when I return!!

Let the school work begin!

Oh yeah, p.s. We visited an Aymaran community (another indigenous group in Chile) in northern Chile last week and we saw the most beautiful scenery near the border of Peru! We were about 14,000 feet high.Here's some photos :)

Mountain towns,sunset, alpaca, church, llamas, friends, and coca tea to help with the altitude

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