Where have I been?? What have I been doing?? Or more importantly, what happened to frequently updating the blog?? Well the truth is that over the past month (May 7th-June 5th) I dropped off of the face of the earth for a while, or at least the “digital world.”
I was blessed with the incredible opportunity to live in a rural community in southern Chile and complete my very own independent study project (or ISP). What’s more, this rural community was made up almost completely of members of the biggest indigenous group that exists today in Chile, Los Mapuche.
Before continuing reading, I ask you to please step out of that very first mental image of “indigenous people” while I give a little description of the Mapuche people. First of all, in appearance they look exactly like any other Chilean. Nothing strange, nothing shocking, and certainly nothing “savage.” I say “savage” because for almost all of their history, the Mapuche have been treated by the Chilean state as savages. They have been forcefully included in the Chilean society, they have been marginalized and discriminated against, and they have had almost all of their native land taken from them. Sound similar to anyone who lives in the USA and knows a little about our nation’s history?
They are an extremely proud people, and they are still fighting to this day to win back their respect and their land. They have a beautiful culture, and it is in grave danger of disappearing completely. I was fortunate enough to experience a bit of this beautiful and rich culture by living in the countryside of the community Makewe with a Mapuche family.
Some of the most loving and caring people I have ever met, I have enough stories about my Makewe family to overload the memory on my computer. To say the least, my time with them is a time that I will never forget and I am eagerly anticipating my return to the community of Makewe someday.
Living and working amidst the astounding beauty of southern Chile, I investigated the relationship between the living conditions of the Mapuche people in Makewe and their health. What I discovered was astounding: that they Mapuche people who live in what is considered by the occidental world as “poor estate” actually experience a lower disease rate than those people who lived in the community in “good estate.” These findings deserve to be described and discussed in detail, which they are in the 50-page essay that came from my research, all written in Spanish (of course).
After neglecting to write in this blog for over a month, I have to admit that I’m a little overwhelmed by all of things flooding my mind and trying to make their way into this entry. I’ll think that I’ll just leave it at that for now.
If anyone would like to read the Abstract to my research paper, it is in English, and I would be happy to pass it along so that you can get a better idea of my work!