Lindsey Chapman's Travel Blog


Planning A Fund Raiser

I recently planned my first fund raising event to raise money for VE Global’s annual campaign that is taking place right now.

It was a lot of work but it was also a lot of fun and turned out to be a big success.

Since it was my first fundraiser, I didn’t have high expectations but it went very smoothly and I found that people are very willing to help out for a good cause if you take the time to ask and explain about the cause.

Booking vendors, venue and entertainment

In the beginning stages I had to meet with possible vendors for the event. I had a short list of places where I knew there would be a mix of both gringos and Chileans.  I ended up choosing California Cantina, a place where they were willing to donate a percentage of drink sales, prizes for our raffle and give me contacts to find live music.

California Cantina also has a bar down stairs with televisions showing every sport playing at the moment around the world, and an open air patio upstairs where the band could play.

I found a band that was willing to play for free, called Zorro Martini. They were really awesome and didn’t hesitate to lend their services when normally they would get paid a decent wage.  All they asked was that we covered their food and transportation for the evening.

Soliciting raffle prizes

The next objective was to find people to donate prizes for our raffle. I asked all of the businesses with which I had any connection to so we ended up getting donations for complimentary meals, some English classes, Spanish classes, a bottle of Pisco, bike rentals and tours, and some wine.

People were very generous and wanted to help out in whatever way they could.

Outreach

I emailed every person I knew and asked a good friend to help me spread the word. We had a couple events on facebook advertising the event, inviting over 1000 people and from this we had a great turn out.

Success!

The place was packed on a Monday night. I made a couple of announcements from the stage about the work we do at VE Global to encourage people to buy raffle tickets.

Everyone enjoyed the live music and almost no one refused buying raffle tickets.  Thanks to a bunch of fellow volunteers and friends assistance the evening was a really big success. I had a lot of fun doing it and I am so thankful to everyone who helped out and contributed in any way.

If any of you have any questions about planning your own fund raiser, don’t hesitate to ask. Buena suerte!!

 

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Book Review: The Road Less Traveled
January 31, 2011, 2:42 am
Filed under: Chile | Tags: , , , ,

Travelers are always seeking a road less traveled. Sometimes you travel to embrace new challenges.  Other times you travel to escape current ones. Either way, the act of journeying to another place lends itself to finding truth. It takes you away from your day-to-day routine, and forces you to ask yourself hard questions.

I recently read The Road Less Traveled by psychiatrist and M.D.M. Scott Peck. The book is broken up into four main parts: discipline, love, personal growth and religion, and grace. Regarding personal spiritual growth, Peck shares some pretty incredible insights about how to achieve it. His main premise is that pain and suffering in life should be welcomed because you cannot achieve spiritual growth without it.  They go hand in hand. “We must always consider our personal discomfort relatively unimportant and indeed even welcome it in the service of the search for truth. Mental health is an ongoing process of dedication to reality at all costs,” he states. Sometimes you may resist the truth because it’s not what you expected or were hoping for, but achieving balanced mental health is seeking and recognizing that it is, in fact, truth nonetheless.

He also says, “If your goal is to avoid pain and escape suffering I advise you not to seek higher levels of consciousness or spiritual evolution. You cannot achieve them without suffering. Then why desire to evolve at all, you may ask. If you ask this question, perhaps you do not know enough joy.” I think the average traveler can relate to this point in some form or another.

But perhaps my biggest takeway from the book was related to love. In a philosophy I’ve gathered for myself, I’ve realized that love is not the dependency of “needing” someone or something. Love is wanting someone to flourish as an individual so much that you are willing to do anything within your power to aid them in their person growth and development, no matter the cost. Even at the cost of your own happiness.

Talk about a selfless love. From living and volunteering here in Chile, it’s something I’m aware of everyday.

 



Weekday Veg

My Chilean roommate is a raw vegan chef. RAW vegan. It sounds so restricting right?

The obvious first question is, “How do you ever feel full?” His response to that was, it’s not about how much you eat, it’s about how much you absorb. Then he proceeded to prepare some of the most delicious and beautiful dishes I have ever seen or tasted. No joke. You should see our fridge. It usually contains separate piles of zucchini, carrots, onion, ginger, spinach, beet root, and tomatoes. And the freezer contains ice cubes. I have never been one to do much in the kitchen besides eat or accompany those who are cooking, but I have learned so much since I have lived here, and have been thoroughly inspired. I haven’t converted to vegan or even vegetarian for that matter, but I’ve definitely changed a few of my bad eating habits.

There are so many good reasons to be vegan or vegetarian but I’ve never made the commitment. Recently I watched a short TED talk where Graham Hill explains his samehesitation to becoming vegetarian and offers a nice compromise he calls “weekday veg.” The name is pretty self explanatory.

It’s a good place to start and it’s really easy to be a socially conscientious citizen and actually contribute to the change you’d like to see happening. I’m not ready to go vegan and give up cheese or ice cream, and I can’t say I’m even ready to give up a good hamburger once in a while, but I also can no longer ignore the alarming statistics of harmful effects from meat production. Aside from the nutritional harm, the animal cruelty involved, the enormous amount of pollution, and the insane amount of food and money that goes into feeding the livestock that feed us is simply too much to just look the other way.

One tofu salad and one veggie pasta at a time, we can make a difference.

 



A Perfect Circle
January 3, 2011, 11:02 pm
Filed under: Chile | Tags: , , , ,

Traveling apart from a significant other is always difficult. Like me, I’m sure many of you have experienced the challenges of this at some point or another.

Photo by Flickr user josef.stuefer (Creative Commons)

One of my closest friends who I met through VE Globalgave me some insight that fed my soul and will stick with me for the duration of my living years.  He told me I didn’t lose the relationship because once a relationship starts it never ends. Every relationship — friendship, romantic and the like — is circular. The relationship will inevitably change. It will rotate on a different axis, and may look and function completely differently, but nonetheless still go on existing.

It’s so comforting because this philosophy allows you to let go of the pain of feeling like you’ve lost someone forever.  It doesn’t eliminate the pain or make you miss them any less. It simply allows you to find comfort in knowing that just because the relationship has changed drastically, it doesn’t eliminate or negate what you shared nor does it mean the relationship will always look this way.

It isn’t some amazing new revelation but it has certainly provided me with a more comforting way to look at lost relationships and look forward to what lies ahead.



Life Is Good
January 3, 2011, 11:00 pm
Filed under: Chile | Tags: , , , , ,

I returned to Chile after a marvelous month at home with my dear family and friends. I had nothing but a one-way ticket in hand, some luggage, no place to live and no job.

But I’m blessed with a wonderfully kind friend, Maria Jesu, whom I stayed with when I first arrived while I searched for a place to live permanently. A few days after I arrived a man contacted me on CouchSurfing wanting private English lessons. Another good friend of mine hooked me up with a part time job at an English institute. When I returned to my volunteer work at Anakena school,  Tía Leo and my class greeted me with a dance to Shakira’s “Waka Waka.” It was absolutely adorable.

I ended up finding a place to live throughCompartoDepto. It’s a small house in a quiet neighborhood in Nuñoa, a little further outside the center. I now live with a Chilean raw vegan chef, a musician and a French nutritionist. We have a garden, a piano and an enormous kitchen, by Chilean standards anyway. It’s wonderful.

Now that I live outside the city, I went on the hunt for a bike. A friend of mine contacted me and said his roommate had one that he never used and I could probably have it. So for the cost of a beer, I had a new bike.

I am currently finding a new role in the office at VE Global. I would like to work on training development and progress evaluation using statistical analysis, from a broad perspective. My first projects are going to  be revising our training manual, developing a VE Global cookbook for fundraising purposes, and finding statistical significance from our past volunteer satisfaction surveys. The nerd in me is completely thrilled about this.

Life is good back in Santiago. I feel so blessed to be surrounded by so much love even when I am so far away from home.

 



Misión Cumplida Chile (Mission Accomplished Chile!)
January 3, 2011, 10:59 pm
Filed under: Chile | Tags: , ,


Try and think about the things you look forward to after a long day’s work. Maybe on this particular day you were hoping to leave a few minutes early to make it to the end of your son’s baseball game. Maybe you had to pick up your daughter from daycare or finish paying the bills or do some paperwork that you had put off until last minute. Or maybe you were just looking forward to a nice, relaxing evening at home.  

As a best case scenario, any of these instances could have been the case for the 33 miners who were trapped in the San Josécoppergold mine on August 5ththis year after an alarming collapse.

I still can’t even begin to imagine the fearful thoughts that must have been running through their heads after day 5, day 30, and day 60, wondering if they were ever really going to get out of there. And that’s only if hunger pangs and physical exhaustion weren’t completely taking over their thought processes.

Thankfully all 33 were rescued and lifted out of 700 metres (2,300 ft) of mine, one by one. As the last miner was lifted out, the rescue workers held up a sign that read, “Misión cumplida Chile” (Mission Accomplished Chile!) The survival and rescue of the miners was celebrated in Chile and all over the world, broadcast on every major news channel.  Presidents and foreign leaders across the globe congratulated Piñera, president of Chile.

The people of Chile came together like I’ve never seen done in the States.  Together, the 33 miners plan to start a foundation to help in mining safety to prevent cases like this from happening in the future.

Misión cumplida Chile!

 



Life in the Classroom

Up to this point, all of the kids in my class at Colegio Anakena have been between the ages of three and four, which is of course the most adorable age and size kids come in. Most of the children have some minor learning or behavior problem, but they all also have some sort of speech impediment or difficulty with pronunciation. There are many times they have to repeat what they are saying three or four times before they are understood. I’m sure it’s as frustrating for them as it is for the listener.  It can feel very debilitating to be misunderstood even when you can pronounce every word perfectly, but even worse when the recipient is unable or refuses to understand what you are trying to say.

Attendance is generally low, and almost zero when it rains. There are major problems with flooding in the streets here so it becomes nearly impossible for people to get in and out of their homes.

A new student joined our class last week. Her name is Laura and she is mute. She hears and understands everything you say but she cannot say anything. How difficult it must be to have all the words and thoughts in your head but no ability to communicate them vocally. A critical case when actions must speak louder than words.

My heart has a special place for Nely because she doesn’t have a mom or a dad. She can be very disobedient at times, but knowing her situation gives more than enough patience to provide her with the affection and attention she is looking for.

My birthday at Anakena with previous students

I know I shouldn’t have favorites, but Miguel is my favorite. He was the first one to understand my language barrier.  He gets in trouble a lot because he has a free spirit and he’s a four-year-old boy, but he listens and respects authority.

Amanda has the most adorable face you could think of putting on a child. She has puffy pink cheeks, big brown eyes and a sweet personality.

Monserrat is four years old and a little more mature than the other students. She knows how to color inside the lines and loves to sit on your lap.

Benjamin is the trouble maker. He is always disobeying and testing the authority of the tias. He can be so adorable at times but so frustrating too. He has taught me the incredible difference in patience it requires to discipline children with disabilities.

Fernanda was the first child I really connected with because on my first day working at Anakena, I had to console her for about 10 minutes while she cried in my arms about missing her mom. It was comforting for her to be held and it was comforting for me to feel needed.

Javier is the biggest kid in the class but he acts the youngest. He is always copying what the other children do or say and requires a lot of patience. But he always greets me with a hug, a kiss, and an “Hola tia!” which I love.

Victor is a kid who tends to blend in with the crowd. I try to give him extra attention and encouragement because I don’t think he is used to receiving it.

Anthony is the smart kid in class. He always knows the answer and seeks the praise that follows. He respects the tias and is a good leader in general.

After spending about two months getting to know these kids and pouring my heart into them, I was asked to begin working in another classroom. A classroom where the kids have more severe disabilities and the tia needed more help.  Of course I want to be used wherever I am needed most. I miss all my kids but I still see them every day and they are excited to see me when our classes cross paths.  My new classroom is great too. The kids are between the ages of five and seven years old, and are also very adorable. I deal with a variety of disabilities, such as Down syndrome, varying levels of autism, and some physical disabilities as well. It is challenging to say the least but I am excited to continue getting to know them and to create a lasting connection with each of them.

There are times when the days fly by and there are times when the days seem long, but my time in Chile is limited with these kids. I know I only play a small role in the grand scheme of life, but I want to leave the biggest mark on them that I can. I want to do something nice for the kids and the tias before I leave to let them know how special they are to me.

Any ideas? Please share!