I think my most commonly used word on my travels to Chile was ‘vamos’ (let’s go in English). So what took me to Chile? Gemma Tombs and I travelled 28 hours to participate in the MUSE project kick-off meeting and it was fabulous.
MUSE is an Erasmus+ cofunded project that aims to grant equal access to education for those with a disability in three Latin American countries. The project aim is to build a framework that will be developed and piloted across 6 Latin American Universities and can be adopted by other institutions. Each of the countries, Chile, Argentina and Mexico, has two institutions that will participate in the live project.
What struck me straight away (apart from flying over the Andes, which was breathtaking by the way) was the passion, enthusiasm and commitment the partners have for this project. Thre is a real concern to grant students with disabilities an equal opportunity to participate in their learning as their peers without a disability. It is utterly heartbreaking to hear some of the stories, but it has filled me with the motivation to make a change. I don’t think I am alone in this either: we went to a conference on our final day at the government building that discussed how we can better support those with disabilities and there was 190 in the room, almost double what was expected.
As a person with a chronic illness, I noticed many barriers to my condition throughout my stay, fortunately my symptoms remained under control. I feel selfish in noticing my disability before empathising with those who face everyday challenges with their mobility, senses and cognition. But nevertheless I feel energised by the projects’ aims.
But on top of this, I have met some wonderful and very kind people. I went to Chile knowing little more than how to say hello, please, thank you, goodbye and hello hottie (don’t ask). I felt extremely embarrassed that I couldn’t string even a sentence together, especially as some of the partners could not speak English either. However, over the few days I was asking for translations and I started to understand a lot more. But again, this has motivated me to learn another language. Although I can get by with French, of course Spanish is the second most spoken language in the world. I have started to learn spanish and I am corresponding with some of the partners on the condition that they speak in English and I respond in Spanish. It’s a mutual understanding and I like it.
P.S Pisco sours are too delicious.