Our last week

Hola familias,

We can’t believe our time in Viña is almost over. Tonight at 8:45pm we will take off for Atlanta! It has been an amazing 7 weeks and we are sad to leave, but happy to see our family and friends in the US!

This last week has been full of final project presentations, volunteer activities and preparation for the farewell show (last Friday night). This week, the students presented linguistics articles, their literature essays, and their grammar and culture final projects. All the instructors were very impressed with their work this summer.

On Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, the students prepared for the farewell show. They prepared and practiced skits, practiced the dances they have been learning from the beginning of the program, and also rehearsed the songs they sang on Friday night. On Wednesday, we volunteered with APARID, a non-profit organization that works with children with Down Syndrome. The students helped with odd jobs around the building where the organization is housed, such as cleaning the fence and the yard around the house. Afterward, we walked to Valparaíso Sporting Club to play soccer and do yoga. The students had a blast at both activities and it was a great way to end our community work here in Viña.

IMG_5820 IMG_5825 IMG_5832 IMG_5839 IMG_5843 IMG_5849

On Friday evening we had our farewell show. It was a wonderful evening and the students worked extremely hard to put together a fantastic show for their families and friends here in Chile. First, they performed the skits they had worked on in the theatre workshop. Each skit told the story of various experiences the students have had in Viña this summer. Afterward, they performed the songs and dances they have been working on over the past seven weeks. The students sounded great and danced wonderfully!

IMG_5861 IMG_5863

Each student then thanked their family and presented them with a rose, a letter, and a copy of the program magazine. Over the past few weeks I have been working with the students to create a magazine, compiling their drawings, poems and articles from the summer (US families will receive a copy in September!). This part of the farewell show was bittersweet! The students have grown very close to their families over the past 7 weeks and I know their Chilean families will be sad to see them leave this afternoon.

We are all meeting at the church at 1pm today to board our bus to Santiago. At 8:45pm tonight, our flight takes off for Atlanta! We will see everyone at the Chicago airport tomorrow morning around 10am. Our flight is scheduled to arrive at 9:55am, but please check the flight status periodically in case of delays or cancellations.

See you tomorrow morning!

-Team Viña

Our last week

Our latest news

Hola familias,

We have had a very busy past couple of weeks! We can’t believe that we only have one more week in Viña. We have enjoyed every minute of our time here and we will be sad to leave, but happy to see our friends and family back home.

Classes are going well! The students continue to work hard and are currently working on their final projects for each of the four classes. They are very dedicated students and are active participants in all our class discussions.

Our dance, choir and theatre workshops continue to be spectacular. The students have been working very hard to prepare for the farewell show. They will present the songs and dances they learned in the choir and dance workshops as well as skits they created in the theatre workshop. Everyone is looking forward to the show on Friday evening!

For the past two weeks we have been working with students from an arts high school in Quilpué, a town next to Viña. They all belong to the Cultural Center in town and were very excited to host the students from IUHPFL. The first time we went, we were able to participate in an afternoon of many different activities led by the students from the school. Our students had the opportunity to try screen-printing, aerial silks (think Cirque du Soleil), juggling, unicycles, and making music with all sorts of new instruments. Everyone tried something new that day and everyone truly enjoyed themselves. Below are a few pics from that afternoon:

IMG_5128 IMG_5131 IMG_5114 IMG_5084 IMG_5076 IMG_5056 IMG_5017 IMG_5016

We were very excited to go back the following Wednesday to help paint a mural outside the school. The students had a blast painting and were very proud of the work they did. Afterward, the students played basketball with some of the students from the local high school.

IMG_5568 IMG_5569 IMG_5570 IMG_5573 IMG_5578 IMG_5579 IMG_5581 IMG_5614

Last weekend we went on a trip up north to La Serena and Vicuña, which is about 6 hours from Viña on a bus. We left early on Friday morning and stopped at the Copper Museum on the way. The students learned about the history of copper mining in Chile and afterward ate lunch at the beach near the museum. It was a foggy day, but they still took lots of pictures and got to explore a new place.

IMG_5243 IMG_5238 IMG_5314IMG_5322IMG_5327IMG_5324

On Saturday morning we went to the Tololo Observatory, which is located on the top of a mountain in the Coquimbo Region about 50 miles east of La Serena. We toured the observatory and had the chance to see how the telescopes work. While Tololo is only used for research, there are other observatories in the region, such as Mamalluca, where the general public can go to see the stars at night. Unfortunately it was far too cloudy during our trip, so we were not able to see anything, but everyone was very impressed by the size of the telescopes at Tololo and we all enjoyed the tour. After the tour, a few students even told us that they are going to try to take astronomy classes in college! It was a very successful excursion. Of course there was also a beautiful view from the top of the mountain, so we stopped to take lots of pictures.

The group in front of one of the telescopes at Tololo.

IMG_5362 IMG_5396 IMG_5508

After the tour, we ate lunch in a restaurant that uses solar ovens to cook the food. Again, since it was so cloudy that weekend, our food was not cooked in the solar ovens, but it was still amazing and was definitely a highlight of the weekend in terms of food. Later that afternoon we explored La Recova, a market in La Serena. We ate dinner there before heading back to the hotel. It was VERY cold, but some of the students were daring enough to jump into the pool when we got back.

The daring students (I believe that is Dana jumping into the water).

Sunday was a rainy day, but we made the best of it and headed over to the lighthouse, one of the most famous landmarks in La Serena. There wasn’t much to do outside, so we headed to the mall for lunch before our bus picked us up to head back to Viña. Overall, it was a great trip and we didn’t let the bad weather ruin our spirits.

The lighthouse in La Serena.
The lighthouse in La Serena.

This past Thursday, we went on our last excursion to Pomaire and Isla Negra, two towns about 1.5 hours from Viña. Our host in Pomaire was Marisol, a local ceramist who showed us her studio and took us on a tour of the town. Marisol works with the clay that is typical in Pomaire and was very excited to teach the students about the process of creating the beautiful pots, plates, bowls and mugs that are sold in many shops throughout town. We also enjoyed a delicious breakfast and lunch in her home. In the afternoon we headed to Isla Negra to see one of Pablo Neruda’s houses, which is now a museum. The students had been learning a lot about Neruda in their literature class and enjoyed the visit. Below are some pictures from our trip.

IMG_5621 IMG_5626 IMG_5622 IMG_5639 IMG_5642 IMG_5663 IMG_5656 IMG_5668 IMG_5670 IMG_5672
IMG_5688 IMG_5690 IMG_5692

This past Friday for our surprise activity, we took the students to the sand dunes in Concón, a city next to Viña. A common activity for Chileans and tourists alike is to go dune surfing in the winter when the sand isn’t too hot. The students rented boards and took turns sliding down the dunes. It was a rough climb to the top, but it was worth it for the beautiful view! Below are some pictures of the students “surfing”.

IMG_5741 IMG_5738 IMG_5733 IMG_5728 IMG_5712 IMG_5727

That’s all for now! We hope you check back next week for pictures from our last week in Viña and our farewell show. Our flight leaves Santiago next Monday, July 27 at 8:30pm. Have a wonderful week and we will see you next week at the airport!

-Team Viña

Our latest news

Week 4

Hola familias,

We hope you’ve had a lovely 4th of July weekend back in the States! Here in Viña we got to see Chile win the final game of the Copa América last night. When the game ended we could hear the entire city screaming! It was quite the experience.

We only had three days of classes this week due to Monday’s holiday and Friday’s trip to Santiago. Classes went well and the students continue to work hard each day. We are very happy with the effort they have been making and the wonderful quality of their work thus far. We can’t believe there are only 3 more weeks of classes!

The students are making a lot of progress in their dance and music workshops and are looking forward to presenting what they’ve learned at the farewell show at the end of the month. We did not have theatre or sports this week due to the holiday, but we will resume those activities tomorrow. On Wednesday afternoon we took the students downtown to some of the artisanal markets and souvenir stands so they could have some free time to explore a different part of the city.

On Thursday we did service learning with Acción Cousteau again, the same group we worked with last week. This time we visited a local park, the Parque Ecológico La Isla Concón, to help plant trees and bird watch. Several students mentioned that they enjoyed this experience since they got to see many birds that they have never seen before. We are actually featured on the park’s Facebook page this week if anyone would like to check it out! The text is in Spanish, but there are several pictures of the students planting trees and bird watching:


Below are some more pictures from our trip:

IMG_4718 IMG_4744 IMG_4714 IMG_4716 P1070705 P1070718 P1070762 P1070764 P1070775

We had a very early start to Friday morning’s Santiago excursion (8am), but it was worth it because we had a fantastic day. Our first stop was the Museo de la Memoria y los Derechos Humanos (Museum of Memory and Human Rights). The students learned more about the coup d’état and subsequent dictatorship that Chile experienced between 1973 and 1990. Although the topic was rather heavy, the museum was a wonderful learning experience and helped students to better understand recent Chilean political history.

After the museum, we enjoyed lunch at a local sandwich shop. It was a nice break before our walking tour of the city, where we got to see many important governmental buildings, the business district, and many parks, plazas and markets.

The group in front of the Palacio de la Moneda.
Museo de la Memoria y los Derechos Humanos

Our last stop on the tour was a ride in the funicular up San Cristóbal Hill, where the students enjoyed a view of the entire city. Unfortunately, Santiago was pretty smoggy that day, so our view was not ideal, but we enjoyed our ride anyway and the students took a lot of pictures. We headed back to Viña afterward and the students had the weekend free to spend time with their families and watch the final soccer game in the Copa América. Below are some more pictures from our trip!

Some local high schoolers interviewed Vacketta about Chilean poets!
Some local high schoolers interviewed Vacketta about Chilean poets!
On the funicular!
At the top of Cerro San Cristóbal!
Riding up the hill…

Please check back next week for another update. Next weekend is our 3-day excursion to Valle del Elqui and we will be sure to post lots of pictures!

-Team Viña

Week 4

Week 3

Hola familias,

This week was a great success! The students have been very busy with classes, afternoon activities, and service learning activities. We had classes Monday-Friday this week and everyone is adjusting well to the daily schedule here in Viña. On Monday we had the opportunity to work with Amanda Lorca, a local professional actress and theatre instructor. That afternoon, she led a few improve activities and theatre games. The students had a great time working with Amanda and are looking forward to next week’s theatre activity.

On Tuesday the students had dance and music again and continued to work on the same songs and dances they learned last week. Some students even brought their instruments! We have many talented musicians in our group and it has been wonderful to see them bring their own individual talents into the music workshop each week.


On Wednesday the instructors surprised the students with a “movie night” in the church hall. We have had a pretty busy schedule these past couple of weeks and were in need of a more relaxing afternoon. The students (and the instructors) enjoyed watching Monster’s Inc. in Spanish!

On Thursday we headed to the beach in Concón a town very close to Viña. The students participated in a service learning project with Acción Cousteau, an environmental organization dedicated to protecting local marine life and promoting awareness of local environmental issues. The students learned about the job of local fishermen and had the opportunity to learn about and observe the diverse marine life of the Chilean coast. They also participated in a project that hopes to determine which kinds of trash are typically found on the beach in Concón. Students collected the trash and kept track of what they found, which will help contribute to the organization’s research project. It was a unique experience for the students as they were able to learn more about a type of ecosystem that doesn’t exist back in Indiana. Below are some pictures from our trip.

When teachers leave their cameras out, students like to take selfies. They make great additions to the blog! 🙂


Group picture at the beach in Concón.

This weekend we did not have any planned activities with the students. Additionally, Monday is a holiday in Chile, so we did not hold classes today. This week is our trip to Santiago (Friday, July 3). Please check back after that for a blog post about our adventure!

Week 3

Week 2

Hola familias,

We have officially completed our first week of classes and afternoon activities! The students are getting used to their daily routine and had many wonderful and new experiences this week. Monday through Friday, the students have classes from 9am-1pm. This summer, they are taking grammar, linguistics, literature, and culture. At 1pm they go home to eat lunch with their families and then return to the school around 3:30pm for afternoon activities. Below are a few pictures of the students hard at work!P1070110P1070107P1070112 On Monday, we did theatre and sports as our afternoon activities.  This week in the theatre workshop we played a few games so that the students got to know each other better. During sports, some students enjoyed playing soccer and basketball outside while others did yoga with Alysa or played ping pong inside.

Students playing basketball outside the school.
Students playing basketball outside the school.

On Tuesday the students did dance and chorus in the afternoon. This year we are fortunate enough to have Mario lead the dance workshop and Juan Carlos lead the choir workshop. Both instructors are from the Viña area and have extensive experience in dance and music education. While these activities may be out of some students’ comfort zones, everyone participated and did a fantastic job. The dancing looked great and the singing sounded wonderful! P1070126P1070120

On Wednesday afternoon, the instructors surprised the students with a trip to the beach. They enjoyed a few hours of soccer, exploring the shops on the boardwalk, and just hanging out on the beach. Even though the water is very cold this time of year, some of them were daring enough to stick their feet in the ocean!

The daring students :)
The daring students 🙂

On Thursday afternoon the students had an orientation to the three service learning projects they will be doing over the course of the program. They actually had their first service learning experience this weekend. On Saturday we spent the day helping out at the Mapuche community in Reñaca Alto, a neighborhood in Viña del Mar. The Mapuche are an indigenous group from south-central Chile, but there is a local group here in Viña whose members meet regularly and celebrate Mapuche holidays together. On Saturday we helped the members of the community to prepare the space for the New Year celebration that took place on Sunday. Students helped to prepare food for the celebration, build a railing for a stairwell, and paint the ceiling of the building where some members of the community offer classes.  The students did an excellent job and had a lot of fun, too!


After preparing everything for the celebration, we were invited to participate in We Tripantu on Sunday, which is the Mapuche New Year. It was a beautiful ceremony and a wonderful opportunity for the students to take part in a tradition that many Chileans themselves have never experienced. Of course, the food at the celebration was wonderful and the students ate enough sopaipillas (fried bread) to keep them full for a few days.

Group picture at the We Tripantu (New Year) celebration.
Sopaipillas, chicken, rice and salad! Our We Tripantu lunch.
Sopaipillas, chicken, rice and salad! Our We Tripantu lunch.

We have had an amazing week filled with different activities and we are looking forward to our second full week in Viña! We will have classes Monday through Friday and continue with afternoon activities as well as some more service learning work. Please check back for an update next weekend!

-Team Viña

Week 2

Week 1

Hola padres,

Greetings from Viña! Our first week was a great success. The students are getting to know their host families and have enjoyed outings to the market and watching soccer games together. They have great things to say about their families and feel very welcome in their new homes. We also had the opportunity to take tours of Viña del Mar and Valparaíso so that the students become more familiar with the cities where we will be spending so much of our time. We are eager to start the first week of classes and afternoon activities tomorrow!

To recap the week, we landed in Santiago around 10:15am on Wednesday and immediately headed to the bus that took us to meet the host families in Viña. The ride from the Santiago airport was beautiful! After a 2 hour bus ride, we arrived at the church where the students will have classes each day.  The families were already there waiting for us and each student was presented to their family individually.

Chilean dancers at the host family meeting.
Chilean dancers at the host family meeting.

It was a wonderful ceremony and it was great to see each student meet their family for the first time.  After the students and families met, we were welcomed with traditional dances from all over the country. The students had the opportunity to see many types of Chilean dance, some of which they will learn during our dance workshops this summer.  It was a great way to kick off the program and the students really enjoyed themselves.

On Thursday, the students took their placement exam in the morning and had an orientation to the program in the afternoon. They learned about money and transportation in Chile and we discussed the differences between family life in Chile vs. in the US.  The students received their Chilean cell phones on Thursday as well. Most people in Chile have smartphones, but for the purposes of the program, we decided to save money and use older phones. Everyone had to learn how to use what we might now consider antiques! The students are also learning to navigate the streets of Viña as they make their way to school.

Learning how to use our phones!!
Learning how to use our phones!!
Student sighting!
Student sighting!

On Friday we went on a tour of Valparaíso, which is the city is rigP1060791ht next to Viña. We had a wonderful tour guide, Vania, who taught us a lot about the history of the city.  We did a lot of walking, rode up mountains in funiculars to see the different neighborhoods in the city, saw lots of urban art, and even had the chance to take a boat ride to see the city from a new perspective. The students experienced five forms of transportation that day: metro, funicular, microbus, boat and walking!  Each neighborhood had its own personality and the students enjoyed exploring their new surroundings.  At the right is a picture of the group on the boat before we left the dock. This picture was taken before all the life jackets were passed out, but everyone was wearing one!

On Saturday, we took a tour of Viña del Mar and Recreo, the neighborhood where the majority of the students are living this summer.  We had another fantastic tour guide, Cynthia, who taught us all about the history of the city. The tour ended with a beautiful view of the sunset (below).  P1070089Our first few days in Viña have been spectacular. We have already seen so much of this wonderful country and we are looking forward to beginning our daily routine tomorrow morning.  Please check back for another post next week!

Week 1