Chloe stays in Chile for a year to teach

GOODBYE: Chloe says goodbye to her Chilean family at the airport
GOODBYE: Chloe says goodbye to her Chilean family at the airport

The Masons of Aberdeenshire East Province helped pay for a Buchan volunteer’s year-long trip to South America.

Chloe Paterson was given £1,000 by the Masons towards her trip to teach English in Chile.

The Wood Family Trust also donated £1,000 towards Chloe’s costs and she did a bag pack in Fraserburgh, as well as selling a family members toffee.

Project Trust is the charity that organised the year long trip for Chloe, she had to raise more than £4,000 needed for her trip. The trust sends young school leavers to Africa, Asia, South America and the Caribbean for a year’s volunteering on various projects.

After finishing high school Chloe stayed at home over the summer before heading to Chile. Chloe stayed in Santiago de Chile with a local family and a fellow volunteer Anna from Newscastle, for a year from August 2010.

Chloe said: “It felt so surreal as I walked out of the airport and heard the noise of the city roar, and as I got driven to the city centre, it began to feel daunting, seeing the shanty- towns, knowing that this was my home for the next year.

“After spending the night in the city centre with, I got picked up at noon the following day by the headmaster of my school, Cristian, who then drove me out to the very edge of Santiago, to one of Santigo’s most poverty- stricken suburbs, Pudahuel, where I met my host family and moved into my house.”

The family Chloe stayed with knew little English and she did not know any Spanish.

She said: “I communicated through a dictionary, hand movements and body language. After three months of listening, I was beginning to talk and it was then that I realised that the family not speaking English was a huge advantage.”

She worked at the local school, Colegio San Luis Beltran which teaches children from the ages of five to eighteen.

Chloe said: “Generally, I really enjoyed teaching and I found that Chilean kids were always very keen and excited to be working with the “gringa” (a white English- speaker).”

“I remember the walking into the school for the first time when the students were practising traditional Chilean dancing for Chile’s National Independence Day (the 18th of September) and they were so full of life and energetic. You look at the lifestyle they lead in the less developed world but yet, you will never find happier children.”

Chloe is currently studying Arabic and Spanish at University of Edinburgh where she will be entering her second year after the summer. As art of the degree Chloe will need to do a six-month work placement in an Arabic or Spanish speaking country. Chloe hopes to go back to South America for this placement and hopes to see her Chilean family while there.

Chloe was in the Santiago de Chile Metro station when the last Chile miner was freed in October 2010.

She said: “In the Metro station they have these massive plasma screens mounted on the walls and they were showing the rescue of the last Chilean miner. There was such a great wave a joy and everyone was cheering. It is a day I will never forget.”

Chloe managed to travel in the summer, she said: “A managed to travel to another three South American countries and see the world’s most spectacular waterfalls and the world’s southern- most city in Argentina, the towns’s on the southern coast of Uruguay, and the tropical countryside of Paraguay. I also did the 5 day trek of the famous Torres del Paine which is at the end of the world, Antarctica, in the southern tip of Chile where I saw the world’s third biggest glacier.”

Chloe’s parents managed to visit her for nearly three weeks and they visited various places. When Chloes’ parents visited the school, Chloe’s father wore his kilt which fascinated the children.

Chloe said: “Saying goodbye was definitely the hardest and worst part of the year. All the family came to wave me goodbye at the airport.”

She said: “I will always appreciate the great sum of money that was donated to me from the Province of Aberdeenshire East Masons.”

Chloe gave a talk to the Masons at a special celebration night over the success of their Caring and Sharing project. For more details and pictures of the night see next week’s Buchanie.