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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:

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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”.

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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

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