5 North Americans in a Chilean Mountain School

5 North Americans in a Chilean Mountain School

Several months ago, Jon’s co-teacher (Johanna) was describing a school that her cousin works at called Sofía Vásquez Rebolledo – Loma de Vásquez.

She described:

  • a school high in the mountains. (In fact, it is the last school in the Longavi region before the Chile/Argentina Border)
  • her cousin who teaches at this school twice a week and another teacher who lives at the school with the students.
  • the 11 students who attend this school.
  • a dormitory where the students sleep during the week because their homes are too far away to travel daily.
  • some students who have never met non-Chileans before.
  • families who pick up their kids for the weekends on horseback.

Jon immediately replied, “That’s awesome! I want to work there!”

From that day on, the incredible Johanna began to plan an opportunity for us to travel to this school for a day to met the students and to teach English.

That opportunity arrived last week Friday … and with an additional bonus! Pastor Steve Peterson (Missions Administrator for the Evangelical Lutheran Synod) and Pastor Matt Behmer (ELS Missions Board Member) happened to be visiting our church that weekend. We invited them to join us, and they happily agreed.

On Friday morning we hopped into Pastor’s car and met up with Johanna and her cousin Osvaldo in Longavi. From there they lead us into the mountains to where the school is.

When we arrived, the students were finishing up a class so we took a tour of the school. Pictured here is the courtyard where assemblies and/or acts take place. Behind the stage you can see a soccer field and to the right an eating area for Fiestas Patrias (Chilean Independence Day). One of the teachers was excited to show us pictures of the time when this courtyard was filled with hail!
We then sat down for a delicious breakfast of tea, warm bread, and little cakes. Pictured here is the kitchen on the left and the cafeteria on the right. You know your meals are fresh when the butchered meat is bought from neighboring farms and is weighed on this thing! 
Finally it was time to meet the students! They were very timid at first, but by the end were talking, laughing, and even dancing with us. Here Jon is showing some pictures to describe the United States. 
Johanna organized wonderful English activities that we were able to help out with. We reviewed colors and shapes. The color/shape BINGO at the end was a HUGE hit. Johanna left the materials at the school so that the students can continue to play in the future. Pictured here the students are learning the parts of the body through the song”Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes.” 
After the students put together a body and labeled each of the parts. The students range from 1st to 6th grade and study in one room together. 
Group picture! The wood building behind us is the dormitory where the students sleep. They all gave hugs goodbye and invited us to come back again. (: It is a beautiful school with very kind teachers and students. We would LOVE to visit again!
Our visit was on a Friday so we were able to witness the parents picking up their kids to take them home for the weekend. Here is one of the modes of transportation. 
After all the kids left for home, Osvaldo offered to take us to some beautiful places nearby. Here are Steve and Matt by Stop #1: Puento Malcho. 
Osvaldo showed us a secret little beach only about a 5 minute walk away. We are ABSOLUTELY going to come back and swim! 
Stop#2: This beautiful lookout of Volcan Longavi
Stop #3: Another gorgeous lookout over the river. Chunks of this cliff fell during the big earthquake in 2010. 
A final group shot. 

So many thanks to Johanna and her cousin Osvaldo for sharing this school and its students with us! It was a pleasure to be able to meet each of the students and to help teach English for a day. Both Johanna and Osvaldo work very hard for their students ,and we are so thankful for them!

Also, a thank you goes out to Steve and Matt for coming along and sharing in this experience with us. We greatly appreciate the work you both do to support the Lutheran congregations in Chile!

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