Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Chile update

The damage in Chile turns out to be worse than the initial reports. President Michelle Bachelet said they wouldn't need international aid, but asked for it two days later; one of the voices on the radio pointed out that it sort of symbolizes Chile's self-image, where they're tending to see themselves as a fairly developed country--which it is, in many respects--but in practice, they're not quite there yet. There's a vivid photoset up at The Big Picture, and the news out of Concepción and Constitución seems to get progressively worse. It's clear that Chile will be rebuilding stuff for a few years.

We don't know yet what this means for the WorldTeach program. I had a pretty bad day yesterday, because WorldTeach finally got some information and sent us a pretty grim-sounding email saying that the English Opens Doors program we're associated with is "suspended" and might be canceled. WorldTeach is scurrying, trying to assess things and working up contingency plans for us, including possibly diverting us to the Ecuador program, which would be a May departure, and I think they have other ideas they're tossing around.

What does "suspended" mean for a program that hasn't started yet? I asked the WorldTeach folks, and part of the answer is that the Ministry of Education staff can't get into their building in Santiago right now, because they're not yet sure it's safe. They have a lot to deal with, and probably getting a volunteer program running isn't a priority compared to getting the school year started in the midst of a natural disaster. WorldTeach also says that this year's placements are in areas that aren't severely affected by the quake, although last year's were (meaning people who signed up for another year in the same placement were assigned to affected areas).

At any rate, things are far more uncertain than anyone would like them to be. I'll write more as soon as anything concrete turns up.

By the way, we're waiting a couple days before canceling the going-away parties. If nothing else, we can all meet at the Dutch Goose and watch me drink.

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