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Chill Out In Chile


Posted By:  Liz Goodrich
Date Posted:  3/25/2008

Ever dream of spending a year in a foreign country and really getting to know it? Steve O’Brien, long-time Bend resident and retired faculty member at COCC, recently did just that, staying in Valdivia in southern Chile as a recipient of a Rotary International Ambassador Scholarship, sponsored by the Rotary Club of Bend. Please join us Sunday, April 6 at 2:00 pm when he shares his experiences and slides from his trip, and introduces listeners to the Rotary Ambassador Scholar program.

During his year abroad, Mr. O’Brien traveled from Chile’s far north to Patagonia, and from the Andes to the Pacific. “Valdivia, where I stayed, is in Chile’s green, wet, southern Lakes Region, the place ‘where the rain was born’ in the words of poet Pablo Neruda.” He notes that while Chile has gained a great deal of attention for having a thriving economy, the truth is that, as in most of Latin America, there is tremendous poverty in the country. “The gap between the wealthiest and poorest citizens is one of the largest in the world. It is difficult to spend much time in Chile without seeing the deep influence of ex-dictator Augusto Pinochet, who enjoyed saying during his 17-year rule, ‘Not a leaf moves in this country that I am not moving it’.”

Mr. O’Brien is a longtime student of Latin culture and the Spanish language, and organizer of COCC’s annual Latino Film Festival, 2003-2006. “I went to Chile to fulfill a longstanding desire to spend a year in a foreign culture where I would speak, read, think, and dream in Spanish,” says O’Brien. “The opportunity to live where so many of my basic cultural assumptions about reality were challenged daily was priceless and altered my way of seeing the world.”

The program is free and open to the public. For more information about this and other library programs, please call 312-1032.

Page Last Modified Wednesday, June 23, 2021


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