Quote of the moment

"I have to tell it again and again: I have no doctrine. I only point out something. I point out reality, I point out something in reality which has not or too little been seen. I take him who listens to me at his hand and lead him to the window. I push open the window and point outside. I have no doctrine, I carry on a dialogue." Martin Buber

Friday, August 28, 2009

Stage one, Global Transition Planning Completed—On the road again

“At the Lord ’s command Moses recorded the stages in their journey. This is their journey by stages.” Numbers 33:2

Transfers and changes in my husband’s employment initiated all our moves over the years. This pending journey has been the most challenging one for me to prepare for emotionally. Our first move out of country was to Colombia to work on El Cerrejon in La Guajira, Colombia. It was a job I discovered for my husband in the Sunday want ads. We were young and had no children when we decided to go for it. One year later my husband was sent to the field and I joined him with our daughter arriving on her second birthday. We had three years of adventure and fun, mixed with the hardship of camp living in the frontier between Colombia and Venezuela. The greatest adventure there was giving birth to my son who was diagnosed with Down syndrome.

This time however, planning for our transition out of country and to hit the road again is filled with concerns and questions. We’ve been stateside for twenty-three years-though not in any one spot for very long, until we arrived in Virginia. Here we decided to stay put for nearly 10 years! In fact, we decided that we would remain in Virginia and my husband would send me a postcard should he be transferred elsewhere. As luck would have it, my husband’s job was long-termed. This allowed me to complete my Doctorate in Education. We actually started to grow some roots, an unknown concept for us. The most telling fact of our rooting in Virginia was, for the first time in our 30-some years of marriage and home ownership, we painted the walls something other than re-salable white.

In the meantime, my daughter followed in the footsteps of her dad and is now an expat herself working as a civil engineer. My son became established and supported in our community. He attended the neighborhood school included in the general education classroom with his neighborhood friends. After graduating with his class he is now working in a job he likes and has built a strong community of friends.

…And then we learn my husband’s new position will be in Santiago, Chile. Stage one is set. I must now answer the questions: What about my new career potential as Dr. Donna? What about Andy’s life here? Dare we leave Andy behind in Virginia without any family nearby? How will we make it in Chile as an expat family with an adult member with an intellectual disability? Is Chile the place for me, for Andy, for us as a family?

My previous blog posts track my exploration of life in Chile for individuals with a disability. I continue to look for the resources and supports available for individuals with intellectual disabilities that help bring them out of the shadows of Santiago. I have made links and connections with individuals who see the value of individuals with disabilities and I am heartened by the discussion of the presidential candidates recognizing Chileans with disabilities have a place in this society. It's determined Andy will have a voluntary position available in my husband’s building in document control (shredding and filing). I discover that there are employment possibilities for me and I have filled out the applications. And if I am not selected for employment I feel certain our stay in Chile will have meaning and purpose.

Stage one is completed. I am ready to make the move and go global.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

A Chunk of Chile with a Dash of South America

Another Blogger in Chile to add to my collection:

A Chunk of Chile with a Dash of South America

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Saturday, August 22, 2009

Gypsies the Ultimate Migrant

These photos were taken while in the car returning from Santa Cruz. Brings to thought Hendrix' Gypsy Woman.

Speaking of Gypsies- One of my favorite movies, Tony Gatliff's Vengo is a MUST see. It tells the tale of the strength of family bond through the relationship of an uncle for his nephew with CP through the music of flamenco:
see a clip:
YouTube - vengo - flamenco ii - gritos de guerra

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An Expat-On Living the Migrant Worker's Life

Given my life as a wife of an expat and growing up as an "Army Brat," when anyone asked me where I was from I would glibly quip back, “Which time? I’ve never been anywhere long enough to be from it!” In fact once while living in Shasta County in California I applied for a teaching position in the county’s Migrant Education program under the California Department of Education. When their representative called back for what I thought was a telephone interview-all in Spanish-she asked me to list the various places where I had lived and worked. After listing them all (from La Guajira, Colombia to multiple points up and down/right and left in California) in my best Spanish learned to impress my mother-in-law, to survive in Colombia, and to teach bilingually in California, she then asked me about my children. I thought this rather odd and illegal in an interview. But never one to miss an opportunity to brag about my kids, I shared about their accomplishments and ability to be mobile and survive. As the “interview” came to a close, the person from Migrant Education assured me not to worry that she would have my two children enrolled next Monday in their Migrant Education Program! I informed her that it was not for my children I was calling, but rather for myself seeking a teaching position, to which she stated there were none and apologized for her confusion in thinking me a “migrant worker.” That night when my husband came home, I grabbed him by his lapels, looked him straight in the eye and declared: “When Migrant Ed calls to enroll our children, it’s time to grow us some roots!”

On Living the Migrant Worker's Life:

The Migrant Experience: http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/afctshtml/tsme.html

Former migrant worker about to blast into space

International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families

Expat Vs. Immigrant -blog entry

Military Brats Online

Friday, August 21, 2009

Families in Global Transition 2010 PROGRAM CALL FOR PROPOSALS - DEADLINE 1 SEPTEMBER 2009

As I sit in the midst of my living room that has now turned into a flea-market I became aware of the Families in Global Transition (FIGT). Families in Global Transition provides a forum where members of internationally mobile families, e.g. corporate, military, diplomatic, missionary, gather with those who assist them: human resource personnel, relocation experts, educators and counselors. Together they develop strategies for dealing with challenges of cross-cultural living.

FIGT announced a call for proposals due by September 1 for their conference 4-6 March, 2010 in Houston, Texas.

From their website:
FIGT is the only US-based conference where representatives of the corporate, diplomatic, academic, military and mission sectors come to share cross-cultural coping strategies. This unique forum allows everyone to recognize the universal challenges of relocation and stratigize on new methods and research.

FIGT has been referred to as the grassroots "think tank" for families transitioning globally. Today's major relocation challenges include: career employee retention, personal and corporate/organizational financial losses, third culture kids adjustment challenges, educational balance, working spouses and elder care responsibilities.

The conference has set a standard in the relocation industry by addressing these and other significant transition issues. With an agenda that is continuously at the leading edge of new research and programs, our audiences included representatives from around the globe.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Mapuche: RIGHTS-CHILE: New Wave of Mapuche Land Conflicts

While at the Los Dominicos conversations included the topic about the difficulties the Mapuches of Chile faced both in their daily lives and politically. Santiago's public broadcasting station aired a program on Santiago No es Chile ("Santiago is NOT Chile") an in depth look at the Mapuche culture.

Learn more about the Mapuche at: http://www.mapuche-nation.org/

RIGHTS-CHILE: New Wave of Mapuche Land Conflicts
Daniela Estrada

SANTIAGO, Jul 31 (IPS) - The southern Chilean region of
Araucanía has been shaken in the last few days by occupations of
land by Mapuche activists claiming it as part of their ancestral
territory, attacks on vehicles, and the resurgence of an
anti-Mapuche paramilitary group.

"In order for us to call off our actions, we would have to sit
down to talk - the government, the business community and the
Mapuche people - at a negotiating table," Juan Carlos Curinao, a
Mapuche "lonco" or chief, told IPS Friday, referring to the
series of actions that began on Jul. 23, with no scheduled end

On Jul. 7, around 100 Mapuche activists travelled 680 km from
Araucanía to the capital, hoping to meet with socialist
President Michelle Bachelet.

But the president did not receive them, and they left her a
letter warning that actions would soon be taken if their demands
were not addressed.

As the activists explained on that occasion, they decided to
directly show up at the seat of government after they received
no response from the governor of the Araucanía region, Nora
Barrientos, appointed by the president.

On Jul. 23, the Mapuche activists began to occupy private
property that they claim as their ancestral territory, including
land that belongs to a logging company. Both Mapuche activists
and police were injured in the clashes that occurred when the
police attempted to evict them.

The Mapuche, Chile's largest indigenous group, number nearly
one million in this country of over 16 million people. The
struggle for their rights to what they claim as their ancestral
lands in the south of the country has frequently spilled over
into violence.

On Tuesday, a passenger bus heading from Santiago to Puerto
Montt in the south was stoned by a group of hooded men, who also
spray-painted it with Mapuche demands. In addition, two trucks
were recently set on fire by hooded men in Temuco, the capital of
the region of Araucanía. The radical Mapuche group Coordinadora
Arauco Malleco (CAM) claimed responsibility for the incidents.

The government has brought legal action in connection with the
incidents, invoking the harsh state security law.

The government sent Deputy Interior Minister Patricio Rosende
to the area to oversee police actions and coordinate policies
focusing on matters of interest to indigenous communities, such
as employment plans, the provision of basic services like piped
water and electricity to rural areas, and the improvement of

On Thursday, government spokeswoman Carolina Tohá said that of
the 2,800 indigenous communities in the country, only seven "are
involved in violent actions."

"We are not going to allow these actions, but at the same time,
it is very clear to us that there are indigenous issues that the
country must address, which have to do with much deeper policies
and cannot be solved by security measures, because they are not
limited to the realm of law and order, and have to do with
social, political and cultural aspects," said Tohá.

The government said that since 1994, more than 650,000 hectares
of land have been transferred to indigenous communities - 35
percent since Bachelet took office in 2006.

On Thursday, 16 Mapuche students at the Alonso de Ercilla high
school in Araucanía were arrested by the carabineros
(militarised police) while they were holding a demonstration
outside of their school.

At the same time, a paramilitary group in Araucanía that calls
itself the "Hernán Trizano Commando" announced that it would
become active again, and threatened Mapuche leaders with dynamite
attacks starting on Aug. 3.

In response, Senator Alejandro Navarro, the presidential
candidate of a new political party, the Movimiento Amplio Social
(MAS – Broad Social Movement) announced Friday that he would file
a lawsuit invoking the anti-terrorism law against the
paramilitary group.

The Observatorio Ciudadano (Citizen Observatory, a local NGO)
and the London-based rights watchdog Amnesty International
expressed concern over human rights violations committed in the
region of Araucanía in the last few days.

According to reports from Mapuche activists, "the police have
made excessive use of dissuasive elements like tear gas and
rubber bullets, and even buckshot, which they have shot from
helicopters to crack down on protesters," said the Observatorio.

Amnesty, meanwhile, said the Mapuche attacks on the physical
and psychological integrity of unarmed people, private property,
and free circulation were "unacceptable."

This is not the first time in Chile that the slow, inadequate
resolution of indigenous claims to ancestral lands and the
impact of current and future projects of extractive industries
and logging companies have caused tensions that have spiraled
into violence, said Amnesty.

According to Curinao, "lonco" of the Guañaco Millao village,
the Mapuche communities involved in the actions "are not a

He said the mobilisation is led by 40 traditional authorities
or loncos from different Mapuche territories, who represent all
of the subgroups of Mapuche people.

However, he marked a distance from organisations like the
Consejo de Todas las Tierras (All Lands Council), led by Aucán
Huilcamán, and the radical CAM.

"We do not recognise the authority of CAM. This is a people's
movement, not a movement of organisations. This is the demand
set forth by the traditional authorities, although we also accept
shows of support from different sectors," he said.

"The Mapuche people who are demonstrating are not violent. We
don't carry weapons to go around hurting non-indigenous
settlers, we are fighting for our culture. It is the state that
has attacked us, shooting at us," said Curinao.

"If I occupy property, it's not violence; I am reclaiming my
territory," he said.

Curinao said "we are not responsible for the attack on the bus;
we do not do those things. There are many 'self-attacks' staged
here to frame our people. Whenever we step up our struggle, it
fails because of things like that."

There is no solution in sight yet to the latest series of
Mapuche occupations of land and demonstrations.

But on Friday the authorities announced the creation of a
working committee made up of representatives of the government
and the association of truck owners to improve safety conditions
for drivers around the country, especially in areas where
indigenous conflicts have flared up.

A march in the capital in favour of the Mapuche cause has been
called for Saturday, and on Aug. 5 the Senate will hold a
special session to discuss "the security situation that is
affecting the region of Araucanía."

After 22-year-old Mapuche agronomy student Matías Catrileo was
shot in the back by the police in January 2008 while trespassing
on private land with a group of fellow activists, te co-director
of the Observatory of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, José
Aylwin, said "Violence begets violence.

"What we have here is historical violence, which began with the
occupation of Mapuche territory by the state (in the 19th
century) and continued with the policies of usurpation promoted
throughout the 20th century, which continue today, through, for
example, forestry plantations of exotic species planted on the
lands of the indigenous communities, and the expansion of
investment projects.

"There have been violent reactions by the communities, but it
is the state that must put a stop to the spiral of violence," he
said at the time. (FIN/2009)

Monday, August 3, 2009

Pueblito Los Domínicos-Shopping for Artisan Crafts, Jewelry, and More

I spent a lazy wonderful afternoon mid-week on the last day in July wandering through the nearly 200 artisan shops found in El Pueblito Los Dominicos located a near the foothills of Santiago at Av Apoquindo, 9085, (0)2 201 9749‎ [Map]

Unencumbered by family or others, my cab traveled to the end of Apoquindo where the Puelito rests on top of a knoll adjoining the grounds of a Dominican monastery and convent. Also known as Los Granjeros del Alba, I walked into the quaint outdoors artisan mall designed to replicate a small colonial little township made up of many narrow winding alleyways filled with casitas-shops. Many of the artisans were members of the Mapuche who sold items that represented their culture. A garden store sold bonsais next to a pet store with puppies, lorakets, and canaries stood across the way from jewelry stores filled with items of silver and copper wrapped around lapse lazuli. I throughly enjoyed getting lost among the streets lined with Paintings in oils, copper plates and mobiles, wood crafts and furniture making, leather goods, tejidas (knitted ware) an art gallery, and a small theatre. Prices were good with many items discounted and some shop keepers willing to entertain a little bartering.

Under the spell of the late afternoon sun, the Los Domínicos shops seemed to magically transform from an artisan mall into a living breathing village taken from the heart of Chile. Its citizen-artisans sat outside their shops chatting with their neighbors on topics as wide as technique in their artistry to politics of the day. Others shared a good joke or two relaxing with a cortado (coffee)and cigarette while cats weaved through their legs in rhythm to the melodic guitar strumming of shopkeepers beckoning shoppers into their casitas.

Just outside the "township's" walls the convent and private quarters of the nuns lay hidden away from the tourists as the twin towers of San Vicente Ferrer Catholic Church cast their long shadows below. The quiet mellow feeling of the afternoon's shopping trip contrasted with the energetic sights and sounds that filled the lovely park. Kites back lit by the setting sun framed the children in the running in the playground under the watchful eyes of their nanas. Young men sped across the field as they kicked a soccer ball from one to another ever closer to the goal while old men kept score from their benches lining the field. The increased traffic signaled the day drawing to a close and was confirmed by exodus of construction workers from the new Metro station construction site and bus stops filling with people eager to go home. I too was eager to head home pleased with my treasures and memories.