Orchestra Exchange 2017: Chile
by Audra Keresztesy
Unfortunately Spring Break is over, but the only thing better than the actual break from school is telling people what you did over the last two weeks. I had the opportunity to travel to Chile with 22 other Upper School Orchestra members and it was an incredible experience (to say the least). There is no way to summarize all ten days of travel, music, food, Spanish, sightseeing, hiking, and more, but I will try! Here is a brief summary of some of the highlights.
- We played 3 concerts with 2 orchestras: OSAAM (the San Miguel Youth Orchestra) and Nido de Aguilas International School.
- Even though many girls on the trip didn’t speak Spanish and a lot of the kids from OSAAM didn’t speak English, we felt so welcome and made a lot of new friends.
- The mayor of San Miguel attended our final concert with OSAAM. It was an honor to play for such an important guest.
- We ate so much food it’s insane. Almost every meal we had was three courses and impossible to finish, but it was good enough to make ourselves sick by eating so much.
- The seafood was amazing! Chile runs down the coast of South America and the ocean is never far, so the seafood was always really fresh and delicious.
- We did a lot of activities that lent themselves to beautiful views of Santiago, Puerto Montt, and Chiloe Island, including riding a cable car, a ski lift, and flying over volcanos.
- There were a lot of historical sights to see, like the wooden churches built by the Jesuits starting in the 17th century. The churches are also an UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- Valparaiso is a city on the coast, filled with steep, narrow streets and houses of every color. We also had the chance to visit one of Pablo Neruda’s homes, La Sebastiana, while we were in the city.
Major Differences from the USA and Ohio
- There were stray dogs and cats in just about every place we visited. They were mostly friendly, but it still took some getting used to.
- Being surrounded by mountains gives you a very different perspective of the world. I personally have only driven through mountains in West Virginia, so this was very new.
- It might seem obvious, but seeing ads and billboards in Spanish was very different. I recognized some ads from the US that were the same, just in Spanish.
- There was so much street art and graffiti that it was weird to see a “boring” place without it. Many areas just request that artists ask permission from the property owner before creating their work.
- There was a weird amount of Golden State Warriors gear being worn by Chileans, including a hat worn by one of the Nido orchestra members during our concert. Needless so day, we should have brought more Cavs gear.
- For many of the girls on the trip, it was our first time seeing/going into the Pacific Ocean. We visited a beach and found out just how cold the Pacific Ocean is in March.