Wednesday, June 21st | 7:45PM
Over the past week, I have been trying to arrive to a feeling of normalcy and getting used to being here. The unfamiliarity of it all has been quite jarring – the language barrier, the cultural differences, different products in the grocery stories, building new relationships, etc. I look back, and realize that my seventh grade media teacher’s quip, “be a problem solver,” has been my personal slogan as I navigate these new conditions I find myself in.
Maybe one never feels a sense of belonging when they cross international borders to build an (albeit temporary) existence in a new place. Or maybe they do and it simply takes time. Maybe one must simply adapt as best they can and remember that home is never truly that far away – which is exactly what I am doing.
Not to say that things aren’t wonderful in this quirky city of Santiago. They are. The work I am doing is substantive and stimulating. One of my guiding principles in life is to harness the power of stories and create action or provoke emotions through them. And I am getting to do that in a very tangible way here in Chile. So many people ask me what an Embassy does. And it’s quite simple – an Embassy creates relationships and uses those relationships to create meaningful action in the lives of others.
Aside from work, exploring the city has been my favorite part of my experience in Santiago so far. There are so many little things about this city that just make it… Santiago. Last week, I had the chance to visit La Chascona, one of the houses owned by Pablo Neruda. Neruda is a famed Chilean poet that lived in a time of political and social upheaval here in Chile. His poems have become prized pieces of Chilean culture that people are truly proud of here in Chile. But this home in particular was vandalized when the military led a coup against the Allende administration. Neruda passed away shortly after, and the thousands of people that stood with his wife at his wake were the first to send a powerful message of resistance to the newly-crowned Pinochet regime. It’s a fascinating story, and through wandering through his collections and the house that he helped build, I was able to better understand not only the identity of Pablo Neruda, but of Chile as a whole.
This weekend is a long weekend as Monday is a national holiday. I plan to make more ground in the city this weekend, visiting the famous artisan market in Los Dominicos and the picturesque Cerro San Cristobal that you will find on many Santiago postcards.
Bottom line: I will continue on my journey to find that sense of normalcy, but ultimately, there’s nothing normal about this at all. I need to embrace that and let myself live in this space that is 100% outside of my comfort zone.
Because that’s truly the only way we grow – by being problem solvers, right Mr. Silver?