Empanadas and Chilean music decorated the Study Away Fair, celebrating the new semester program in Chile offered by Keene State College.
Held annually by the Global Education Office, the Study Away Fair offers information tables for the various countries available to the students.
After many years of research and planning, as well as living in Chile for ten years, Director of the Global Education Office, Skye Stephenson, has finally got the semester program in Chile up and ready for students.
The Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Valparaiso is located in Valparaiso, Chile, next to the Pacific Ocean.
The special part to this program is that there is a unique aspect offered to education students, who usually are told that studying away will not fit into their double major schedule.
This particular program at PUCV offers courses that are required for education majors so they do not fall off track while studying away.
Dottie Bauer, an English professor, has been to Ecuador twice before, and visited Chile for ten days doing research for the program.
Bauer went to visit classes, meet the staff and faculty, as well as go to museums and historical sites.
”What we’ve done in terms of the partnership is to add this education issues course to the list of courses that they have available, taught in English for either their students, or exchange students [whose primary language is English], she said. This will be a substitute for the required KSC course.
Bauer regards this new program as a great opportunity for future teachers.
“For an education major, it makes you unique when you go in for an interview. Because you can speak about culture, every place and even Keene, even small towns in New Hampshire, we have cultural differences,” she said.
Sophomore Gabby Boyle is a women and gender studies major who is one of the first students on campus interested in the new semester program in Chile.
In terms of her major, Boyle said, “What I’m most interested in is global feminism and it would be interesting to see how women are perceived in other countries in non European countries, non-western countries.”
She continued, “I think it’s important to see how they’re represented in their own cultures and see if their making any progress in terms of equality and women’s movements.”
As far as progression goes, Chile is one of the more developed and “up and coming” countries in terms of developing countries.
“A lot of people mis-perceive Latin American countries,” Stephenson said.
“Chile is different from that compared to other countries in that it’s a tempered country,” she said.
Safety standards are similar to the United States, mortality rates are lower and literacy rates are higher.
According to the Global Education Office, Chile is one of the most prosperous nations in South America in terms of health and safety, as well as education.
Regarding students who are hesitant about Latin America or developing countries due to safety issues, Stephenson said, “We need, in the U.S., in little ways to realize that’s not a true image.”
“It’s a very underrepresented section of the world especially in Keene or in New Hampshire in general where you don’t see a lot of diversity,” Boyle said.
“And I think most of the most commonly borrowed elements of our culture are from Europeans and while that’s familiar, it’s good to see something that is not the same,” Boyle continued.
Bauer had a similar stance to Stephenson about the false image Americans have towards these countries.
“We need to step out of our self-centered focus and say, wait a minute, how do we play in a larger world of the Americans and how can we be partner with people in South America to help support them and they can help support us,” she said.
Also with the PUCV program, students will be able to gain experience in Spanish language speaking skills or develop it more if they have studied it in the past.
There are two options at PUCV, including an “Academic Stay in English” program which enables students to take courses that are taught in English.
The second option is the Spanish Langauge Program which enables students with advanced experience in the Spanish language to take courses under “Spanish for Foreigners” pertaining to their particular level of Spanish speaking skills.
“Spanish as a language is a real useful skill to have,” Bauer said.
She explained that North Americans often consider themselves the only ‘Americans.’
“We are all Americans. We’re North Americans, they’re South Americans. I think we need to broaden our perspective about the role the U.S. plays in the world,” she said.
She continued, “There are other countries that are sophisticated and have a lot to offer.”
“We’ve become such a consumer society that we forget that there are some basic things like family and sense of place and taking care of the environment and growing your own food and being close to nature that we don’t have anymore and we can learn from people that still have that sense of connective-ness.” Bauer pointed out.
Bauer’s experience in Ecuador seemed to opened her mind.
“The sense of family, support and giving–that sense of the heart of people, that’s why I think it’s important for us to travel to places that don’t have the external development and get to that core of humanity that you don’t get when you’re busy with your car and your clothes,” she said.
The school is in a university town, an hour and a half from the airport, and students will be living in a home stay.
The tuition for the program is the same as what students pay at KSC, including the home stay cost, according to the Global Education Office.
“You’ll be on a campus with Chilean students but in separate classes taught in English, “Stephenson said.
Bauer added, “They will have experience living with a family, which when you live with people in another culture you learn so much about yourself and other people and families.”
She continued, “How people solve problems and what they eat, what their routines are and all kinds of things that will make people a better teacher.”
“Studying abroad is a reinvention of your culture to say ‘oh, everybody doesn’t do it this way. So then I can choose the way to do things, “ Bauer said.
Boyle has found the Global Education Office to be extremely helpful in giving her information on the new program and what it has to offer.
She added that she would like to be accompanied by other students on the trip if possible.
Bauer’s advice to students who are hesitant to study away:
“Take the plunge,” she said. “It allows you to experiment and try out new things and become comfortable in a new place.”
“It helps you see that your life can be new and you can reinvent yourself in so many ways.”
For more information, the Global Education Office is located on the third floor of Elliot Center.
Kenzie Travers can be contacted at