Un Paso Pequeño

Author: 
Kristin Odegaard, Washington-Chile Chapter Member

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One small step. It sounds like such a simple action, but it can have a profound impact on many, including myself.

I arrived in Santiago, Chile at midnight on December 18, 2018 after traveling over 19 hours, yet I did not feel tired. I was greeted by the smiling faces of Chilean Partners Members Elena Torres Seguel (President), Raul Becerra, and his wife, Maria Lucia.

After a short night's sleep, I was up and ready to visit my first school, La Unión Escuela Latinoamericana. The school is located in the Comuna Estación Central, one of Santiago’s most economically-challenged areas.

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The population of the school is composed of over 800 students with 70% of the population consisting of immigrants. I met with two groups of 35 students in the seventh and eighth grade. I engaged the students in some community building activities using Organic World Language (OWL) teaching strategies. Next, the students shared their experiences of bullying at school. We then brainstormed some techniques to break the cycle of bullying and concluded with writing positive attributes on each other's paper plates.

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After meeting with the students, I had a workshop with the teachers and staff of the school to share ideas and follow-up activities to do with the students. I also delivered anti-bullying books for the students and teachers, which were donated by the Lake Stevens Rotary. I had the opportunity to present my workshop at ten different schools for students, teachers, school staff, and parents. 

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As the trip came to an end, I participated in a panel focused on cyberbullying. The panel consisted of a lawyer, two psychologists, the parents of a young woman who committed suicide because of cyberbullying, and myself. The experience was powerful and life-changing. 

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In the span of two weeks, I spoke to over 700 children, teachers, school staff, and families. The message that I came away with is that we all play an important role in the lives of children. I took one small step to help better children's lives. Together, we are many. If we all take one small step, we have the possibility to create great changes for children. Who is willing to take one small step with me?

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