In the fall of 2013 students were able to apply for IUHPFL’s newest Spanish-speaking site, Viña del Mar, Chile, to spend an unforgettable summer in South America in 2014. The IUHPFL collaborates with the Institute for Study Abroad at Butler University (IFSA-Butler) in Viña del Mar to offer students a culturally diverse experience that incorporates volunteer work for the first time ever into the program’s model. In addition to volunteering in the community three times over the course of the program, students take classes, participate in afternoon activities and live with host families, per the IUHPFL model. As with all other IUHPFL Spanish-speaking sites, the program in Viña del Mar employs a full-time Language Commitment.
One of the aspects of the Chile program is a community volunteering experience with the local Mapuche population. The Mapuche are one of the largest indigenous groups in South America and live in Chile and Argentina. While most of them live in Southern Chile or in the capital Santiago, Viña del Mar has a sizeable Mapuche population. Many Mapuche are bilingual with Spanish and their native language Mapudungun; in Mapudungun, 'mapu' means land and 'che' means people. Their sociopolitical relations have long been shaped by their spirituality, which believes in a strong connection between humans, land, and the natural world, hence their name. In more recent times, this spirituality has fused with traditions of Catholicism and Evangelical Protestantism. IUHPFL students will participate in a Mapuche New Year activity as well as assist in a community work project. Students will also participate in volunteer activities with other community organizations in the area.
Located in central Chile in the Valparaíso region, Viña del Mar is the fourth largest city in Chile with a population of just under 300,000 inhabitants. This modern city was founded in 1878 and combines an urban and natural landscape with skyscrapers that give way to expansive beaches and craggy rock formations. Viña del Mar is located adjacent to Valparaíso and with it forms the third largest metropolitan region (about one million citizens) after the capital Santiago and Concepción.
Valparaíso is home to the legislative branch of Chile and a UNESCO-recognized World Heritage Site (2003) for its architectural value. National Geographic named it one of 20 "best trips" in 2013. It is nicknamed "Panchito"—partly alluding to its 41 hills that appear like a small San Francisco. Pancho is the nickname for Francisco in Spanish. An excellent highway connects both cities to the capital in a 90-minute drive.
Also home to the renowned Viña International Music Festival, Viña del Mar has the cultural offerings of a city combined with the natural beauty and maritime culture of a port town. Nicknamed the “garden city,” this coastal metropolis is known for its sandy beaches and Mediterranean climate.
The Viña del Mar/Valparaiso area is home to 15 universities with over 60,000 university students. Many Chileans throughout the country choose to send their children to study here instead of Santiago because of its provincial feel, clean air, coastal beauty and relative safety, yet with the all the commodities of the big city.