It has been seven months since the devastating earthquake and subsequent tsunami ravaged central Chile and for many, the return to normalcy remains daunting. There is still much more work to be done to help those living in earthquake-affected areas fully recover from the damaging effects of this natural disaster. While this extensive process involves large-scale infrastructural reconstruction, it also depends heavily on smaller and seemingly more routine efforts, such as those undertaken by high school students from the town of Chanco, located approximately 60 kilometres from the earthquake’s epicentre.
In order to help students overcome some of the traumatic effects of the earthquake, Jorge Correa Rodriguez, an English Teacher at Federico Albert Faupp High School in Chanco, is using English classes as a means of easing post-earthquake stress. Many of his students come from low socio-economic backgrounds and cannot afford to buy English books, especially since many of their families lost so much during the earthquake. Professor Correa therefore solicited the support of the Embassy of Canada in Chile in his efforts to obtain English-language matferials.
“I am asking you for an educational kind of help. In this high school, we only have my old English books or the ones that the Chilean ministry has given us,” he said.
In response, the Canadian Embassy collected recent Canadian and international periodicals from among those available through its existing subscriptions to send to Professor Correa and his students. The students were ecstatic to receive their new materials and Mr. Correa was very grateful, stressing that the magazines were incredibly useful and would assist the students in their English lessons. Moreover, the window into Canada and the world could help to take their minds off of the stress they have been confronted with in the aftermath of the powerful earthquake.
Student Luis Arellano found an article published in a Maclean's magazine about the earthquake in Haiti very interesting. "The magazine has articles on issues of interest to us. In particular, I really like one on the earthquake in Haiti, which has impressive pictures of the disaster that they have also lived through." Student Libia Campos enjoyed an article in a Canadian Geographic magazine about the prairies and the animals, and said that "the quality and colours of the photos are great." Both students recognized, however, that they will have "to study a lot more English" in order to be able to fully understand the content of the magazine articles.
The Canadian Embassy now plans to continue recycling its periodicals for onward distribution to schools across the country: a simple gesture that will no doubt help to expose Chilean students to Canadian culture, while continuing to help meet their own educational aspirations.