The “intercambistas” exchange students have arrived!

I am currently at A.F.S.’s encampment for the arrival orientation for the incoming exchange students. The day before yesterday I went to the airport to welcome three incoming exchange students from Finland and today at 8am I returned with a co-worker and other A.F.S. volunteers to welcome the other 67 students who were arriving to Chile from all around the world.  It was exciting to see them arrive and their first interactions with other exchange students and also Chile.

Furthermore,  we worked great together as the team, enjoying our time at the airport while looking for the arriving exchange students. Instead of the famous “Where is Waldo” cartoon hunt, we adapted the childhood love with a new title; where is the exchange student? With all international flights arriving in the morning, the airport was in full motion.  The idea of the game was to spot the most exchange students arriving. However as a team we managed to successfully locate all incoming exchange students and transport them to the camp on the buses.

Many of the exchange students were tiered from their long flights, yet they all seemed excited to have finally arrived. With lots of questions and with the little Spanish that they could speak, they thanked us for all the help. It was great to see them trying to communicate in Spanish on their first day since this shows that they are already trying to adjust to living in Chile.

After arriving to the orientation site we allowed the students to rest and shower. Since most of them had been traveling for over a day and were tiered, today was pretty relaxed for the students and we kept mandatory activities to a minimum; we had a welcome speech and lunch, and also activities for the students who were not tiered to participate in. Tomorrow however and the following day will be very busy, as we will be leading numerous in depth activities and covering all material that the students need to know before meeting their host families and leaving with them.

After the hectic morning at the airport , and last week as we have been preparing for the two orientations that we will be facilitating,     it was nice being able to relax finally a little this afternoon, With deadlines to meet, most of us worked overtime last week in order to complete our tasks. The hard work paid off though as we saw the content exchange students arrive.

Being here at orientation camp provoked my thoughts to remember when I was at orientation and my first days in Chile four years ago. Furthermore, I related my past experience as an exchange student to the one that I am living as an intern. While the two are distinct, it made me realize how much I enjoy working in this area . I really enjoy working in an international community because it allows for the world to connect.

An example of this can be seen through a friend of mine in A.F.S. The other day as we were discussing med schools in the US I mentioned the University of Washington. Through this small comment she said that her host brother Connor McClinny is studying international relations there.  Long story turned short; last year I met Connor McClinney on a study abroad program in Brazil. With an example like this it shoes that the world while it is big it does interconnect.

When applying for the grant that the career center at Dickinson College offers, I was asked to respond how I believe that this internship would be beneficial to my career path. Therefore, while international relations has always interested me, this internship has been providing me with the skills and also trainings on cross cultural education that I will continue to use in this field in my future career.  I am looking forward to continue enriching in this experience as an intern at A.F.S., this week at orientations. This will be another great experience to interact and give orientations to people from all over the world.

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