Journalists Get Their Own Holiday!!

So, it turns out that in Chile, journalists are nationally recognized for a day. And no, it’s not just some random holiday like National Donut Day or something like that.  It’s actually recognized.  For example, on Thursday of this past week, the mayor told the journalists before he even started the press conference congratulations on our day and that we have a great one.  The reason for this celebration is the opening of the School of Journalism in Chile, and Thursday just happened to be the anniversary of that.  So, for us lucky journalists, that means we get a bunch of sweet candy and cupcakes, and a huge party at a local club which was Friday night (or as the locals call it, a discoteqa- yes, that would be the origin of the word “disco”).  Lucky for me, I was able to go. Only 2 other coworkers were at the party, but it was fun.  My host mom used to be a journalist, so she was there with me as well.  Due to when my birthday is and the time that school was out and when the trip started, I didn’t have the opportunity to go to a club in the U.S. before this, so I’m not sure how they differ, but I can guess that they’re pretty much all the same.  Laser lights, fog machines, loud music that makes your ears pound when you leave… Dancing was a lot of fun!  I’ve always liked to dance, and the Latin music made it so much better.  There was also some American pop music as well, and earlier in the night the d.j’s were playing music out of the 80’s as well, since there were some people there that were from the previous generation.  As the night went on, the music changed to more present day songs.  I was glad that some American music was played, that way I was able to recognize songs here and there.  There was a group of us dancing together throughout the night, but eventually I was the last one there with my “mom”, so we left at about 3 a.m.  I know back home bars close at 2, but here everything is open until about 4.  My knees hurt from dancing so much, and I was super thirsty, so we left before it closed. 

On a more serious note, I got my first story (nota in Spanish) done this week.  I pulled a 13 hour day in order to get everything edited on Wednesday, and today the guy that puts the extra video in over the voiceover segments was going to finish that part, since he had more time today than he does during the week.  It probably won’t air since I’m just the intern and my reading skills are more elementary aged than professional in the Spanish speaking words, but if it does I’ll be extremely proud. 

I was sick on Monday, but Tuesday I was back in Tome for more protests.  Wednesday I worked only on my story, and Thursday and Friday I continued shadowing.  I’m not sure what next week will bring- I’m supposed to do a month of production after a month of journalism, so there could be a switchover in the middle of the week.  I’ll make sure to keep everyone informed. Sorry there weren’t a whole lot of posts this week.  I’ll be home in less than a month, and back in St. Cloud in just a matter of weeks.  I feel like there’s still so much to learn, but yet so little time to learn it all.  I know that sometimes it just isn’t possible to learn everything you want to, but I almost feel like that I have learned double what other journalism students have, because I have learned from professionals in an environment outside of the United States.  The style is different than from what we learn, and the newscasts are set up differently as well.  It’s nice to get an outsider’s look once in awhile, and I hope that this perspective will help me in my future as a journalist.       

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Culture!

Alright, I know some of you might not want to read all about the news life, so I’m going to try and fit some culture in here as well.

On Friday night, my host mom had a party, a Chilean barbecue to be more exact.  Lots of vegetables, and some good appetizers with meat as well.  Veggies on the table were beets, tomatoes with olives, and some mushrooms stuffed with cheese and bacon bits.  There was also some cheese and crackers, and to top off as a beverage, Chilean wine.  It was a sweeter red wine, and I could choose between that and a lemon flavored drink that was made with eggs as well.  I have no clue what the names were of the beverages, but I do know that I preferred the sweet wine over the lemon drink.  Our meat consisted of small pieces of steak, and then had sides of corn and pasta salad.  So basically, the food we eat is the same, this was just at 11 p.m. instead of some culture’s 5 or 6 p.m. time.  We listened to some music, and one of the men there yelled out “The Cueca!”, which happens to be the national dance of Chile.  Here’s a link to an example.  The dancers are dressed in “traditional” Chilean clothes, but I haven’t seen anyone wearing these clothes except for performances of the cueca.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WxfX04AW7oM

And for anyone that might be planning on traveling to Chile in the future, plan on traveling during the northern hemisphere’s winter- it seriously rains here every other day, and it’s supposed to be my summer!!

If you want to rent a car, you’ll probably need to know how to drive manually, since every car I’ve been in so far is a stick shift.  Someone once asked me if I wanted to drive somewhere, but I couldn’t since I don’t know how to drive stick!

Every day, people greet each other by a cheek to cheek kiss, but men do a sort of handshake or handshake/hug with each other, depending on how close they are to each other.  And with each greeting comes with a how are you?  It’s a little more welcoming and warm than a typical American just saying hi each day.

Went to a local mall/market yesterday, where you could buy all the fresh food you wanted.  It’s a little different on how food is purchased here- you pick out the produce, they weigh it and give you a slip with a price on it.  They keep the produce while you go to the register that’s about 10 feet away to pay, and then the cashier gives you a receipt saying that you paid for it, and you walk back to get your produce that’s still by the scale.

Hoping to have a better week than weekend, I ate some bad food at a Chinese buffet on Saturday and was sick all day yesterday and have been recuperating today.  Back to work tomorrow though, so hopefully some exciting stuff will happen again.

 

 

La Vida Loca (The Crazy Life)

Hola amigos!  Today was a little crazier than usual.  After power walking to the station this morning, I had taken all but 2 steps into the building when Anita told me “We’re going now.”  When I asked where we were going, I got an answer of “The beach.”  Well, when we first got to the town of Tome, it looked peaceful except for a small traffic jam.    Image

 

Then I realized that the traffic jam was being caused by something.  And then I saw the reason for the traffic jam.  There was a crowd of fishermen around other reporters.  The fishermen were protesting in the middle of the street because they still hadn’t received the funds they had been promised by the government months ago.  Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending how you look at it), we had missed the exciting part of the day.  Before we arrived, the protestors had been fighting against the local policemen, and now the fishermen were hoping to talk to the mayor of the city.  After awhile, they decided to make a roadblock in the middle of the main road through town, and we were there for all that.  They dragged tires, old pieces of wood, barrels, heavy pieces of plastic, and even broke a portion of a fence off to put in a huge pile.  As one local reporter told me “Welcome to Chile!”  These types of protests are very common.  After the roadblock was made someone set it on fire, and there was a huge fire with a tower of disgusting smelling black smoke towering above it.

Ground level at the protest.
Ground level at the protest.
The reason why my eyes and throat burned the rest of the day.
The reason why my eyes and throat burned the rest of the day.

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Traffic was backed up for probably a good mile or two because of this.  Anita told me that if she started to run when things got out of hand (for example, if the police [los carabineros] showed up, there was a chance tear gas would be thrown into the crowd), that I also needed to run as fast as possible to get to safety. Like I wrote earlier, people are not afraid to fight the police here.

Needless to say, another eye-opening experience.  Protests like these aren’t exactly common in the U.S, but are common in the rest of the world.  Who knows what tomorrow will bring!  Yesterday, politics. Today, sea-side and crazy wind-swept hair from the insane wind off the ocean and sand in the eyes.

For those of you that are wondering about the Primary Elections that happened on Sunday, that was also interesting to be a part of.  Again, I followed Anita in the afternoon, and we went to two local cities to talk to people who were working at the polls. Interestingly (and this surprised her and Christian, our cameraman), we needed permission to get inside the polls.  Apparently in previous years, the press could just walk in with cameras.  Not so much this year.

Anyway, we were also at a local hotel where one party was watching the results on tv, and the party we were at won by a landslide.  This was the party of Michelle Bachelet, the former President of Chile.  Another interesting fact: many people who I know here dislike her, because 3 years ago there was a huge earthquake that then caused a tsunami.  Bachelet had apparently said that it was safe for people to return to their homes because there would be no tsunami, and so they did.  There then was a tsunami that killed many Chileans and completely destroyed one town in our province.  Afterwards, there was an investigation of Bachelet and if she did know about the tsunami, which she claims she did not know about.  And now, the town that was completely destroyed and where many citizens were killed voted about 70% in favor of her.  People at work hold a strong dislike of her, and want to know how people have forgotten what happened 3 years ago, since there is still reconstruction going on here in Concepcion, where the epicenter was.

Hopefully that question will be answered while I’m still here, because I really want to know why too!

Feel free to comment, ask questions, etc.  I’ll try to answer any questions people have, or find the answers to them if I don’t know myself and will answer in my posts later on!

Ciao for now 🙂

Something different everyday!

Well, I’ve finished my first full week of news, and I have a few highlights to share.  Monday I was at the airport for a conference with a former President, and is now running for President again.  The primary elections are this weekend, which I will be shadowing another reporter again on Sunday for election coverage.  I’m not sure where I’ll be in the city of Concepcion, but I’m sure it will be interesting no matter where I am!  Tuesday was a bit more low key, with a meeting at the mayor’s office about security for this weekend.  However, I was told by one of the news directors that I will be doing a story by myself this coming Monday!! I’ll be talking to other international students and their experiences here.  I have one interview set up, but I need to hear back from one more student.  After work, a few of us went out to eat in the port town of Lena.  It was dark, but I was able to see the waves of the Pacific Ocean for the very first time! 

Wednesday was interesting, with a story about a new highway that is being built and will be connecting cities to each other.  Wednesday was also the day of Anita’s birthday, so we went out to eat at a restaurant at the Plaza Peru, which is located right off of campus. On our way there, we walked through an area that had been the site of a strike earlier in the day, and my eyes started to sting.  Turns out there was some tear gas used as well, and that had been hours before!  But after we got to the restaurant, I decided that since I was feeling kind of homesick that day, I ordered a cheeseburger.  Let’s just say the beef here has a very different flavor than that of American beef.  It was okay in taste, but I’m sure that the breed of cattle here is different, so the meat will then taste differently.  It was dry, and didn’t have much flavor.  I tried adding some ketchup, but it didn’t add as much flavor as I had hoped it would.

Thursday was somewhat low key- one story opened up my eyes to reality in the world, but the other one wasn’t as interesting.  Part of the reason that there are strikes is the education that is offered in Chile.  Education isn’t free here, and at times the quality of education isn’t the best.  At a local school, there were desks and chairs thrown outside in the corners of the courtyard and in the middle of the entryway, along with entrances to stairwells. Everything was piled on top of each other- sometimes up to four desks high.  When we got there, the janitors and custodians were working on dragging everything back in the classrooms. I told Marcelo, the reporter I was following, that I had never seen anything like this before, and how crazy it all seemed.  It opened my eyes as to how different each country in the world is from another.

Friday was the last day for another intern, so we had a little party to send him off.  I’m going to miss Marcelo, he was able to translate for me and tell me what were Chilenismos and what weren’t.  (FYI, a Chilenismo is a word or phrase that is only used in the country of Chile; it’s part of their dialect.)  After that I went out with my friend Ale for some Chinese food.  Chinese food tastes the same here as it does in the U.S., thankfully!   

And here it is, Saturday.  Time for my one day weekend to start, and hopefully tomorrow there will be something awesome to report back to everyone.  Hope the heat isn’t too bad for everyone back home! Stay cool, and send some heat down here!          

Days Before Chilean Primary Elections!

Well, today was a little more eventful than most. I found myself at the airport where I flew in, but it was to be part of a huge press conference with a Presidential Candidate, who also happened to be the President 3 years ago and is running for a second-but not consecutive-time in the primary elections that will be held this weekend. Alejandra and I were part of the crowd that moved along with her, and then we scrambled into our truck along with our photographer and driver so we could get a good spot at the conference she would give after meeting with the mayor. I took video, but again I’m having difficulties, so hopefully the photos will be good enough for now! The first picture is of Michelle Bachelet, the candidate. The second is of the mayor of Concepcion.

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First Week, Done!

Hi! I know it’s been a few days, but I figured I would wait until the week was done with before I posted again. I’ve officially shadowed people for 3 days now, and I keep on learning every day- whether it’s news stuff, the language, or culture differences. I wanted to go out and take pictures on Friday after I was done, but it was pitch black and pouring out by then. I’m hoping to have some time tomorrow to stay on campus afterwards to take pictures of the campus and a video as well.

Second day on the job, I followed Alejandra around with her stories. She had two news packages to do, both on cultural aspects of the country. One was a book review, and another was about a local soccer team. There is a culture segment every Thursday with this station, and she is assigned to that particular beat. After work, a group of us went out to eat for supper. Pizza sure is different here than in the U.S!

Pizza doesn’t have sauce on it, there’s diced up tomatoes sprinkled on top of the cheese. The crust is super thin, and then oregano or some other type of spice is sprinkled on top of the cheese and tomatoes. After that is when all the toppings are arranged.

I also saw the national dance, the Chilean Cueca, being performed out on a local plaza. It was the start of the Festival of San Juan. Lots of food given to everyone, and music blaring from speakers in front of the pavilion.

Friday was a fun day- got to follow Anita again, and since she speaks some English, it was somewhat easier to communicate! We went to the Catholic University, where there is a new technology program that is allowing students to use their cell phones to help create 3-D programs. Something like that anyway. I’m having some issues when we’re out on the job understanding everything that’s being said. The next story was about the local fisherman not being given money that was promised to them by the government because no fish are being caught in the port area. Thankfully Anita was able to translate for me, because in a group of 30-40 men in a government meeting, I couldn’t understand a thing that was said, except for when one of the men swore and he asked for our forgiveness, since we were the only two ladies in the room.

That’s one thing I’ve noticed here, the men are very intent on making sure that women are taken care of. They offer their chairs, or go and find one for us if we don’t have one, pull chairs out for us when we go out to eat, and don’t like swearing in front of us (and will immediately apologize when they do, or ask for forgiveness). It’s almost like traveling back in time.

Time to go- I’ll have some pictures up soon, I promise! As soon as I have free time and daylight, it’ll be the first thing I do!