Chile group tours Iowa, stops in Fairfield
A group of Chileans visited Fairfield Thursday as part of a month-long tour of Iowa sponsored by Rotary International.
The group was in Fairfield as part of a Rotary Group Study Exchange visit, whereby a group of Chileans was sent to visit Iowa while a group of Iowans was sent to visit Chile. The purpose of the program is to offer an exchange of understanding and experiences to a group of young professionals from another part of the “Rotary world.”
John Bolton, the Rotarian in the group of Chileans, said the members of his group are in Iowa in order to improve skills in their profession, sharpen their English and to make friends, which he said is a building block to establishing international peace.
The five visitors from Chile toured Maharishi School and Maharishi University of Management Thursday morning and afternoon.
While at Maharishi School, the team learned about consciousness-based education and the Transcendental Meditation practiced at the school.
Bolton said he was somewhat familiar with consciousness-based education before. David Gonzalez, another member of the group, said he had heard of meditation but had never heard of it being used as part of education.
“It’s a good tool to face daily problems,” Gonzalez said. “It’s good not only in the school but you can use it in your work or in any activity you are going to do during the day.”
Cecilia Espejo said there is nothing quite like Maharishi School or M.U.M. in her native Chile.
“I work in a public school and we don’t have this experience of starting our classes with meditation,” she said. “It’s totally new to me.”
Team member Javiera Reyes said she was impressed with the resources in the Media and Communications Department at M.U.M. Gonzalez said he was particularly interested in the block schedule at the university where students take one class for a whole month.
“That is a great way to do it, because you are not under pressure to take tests on all the subjects at once,” Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez, Espejo and Reyes are all schoolteachers. Luis Marchant is an attorney from Melipilla, Chile, and had visited the United States three times prior to coming with the Rotary exchange program.
He came to the United States to attend workshops at Georgetown University and Texas Christian University and perform an internship with the Center for Justice and International Law in Washington, D.C.
“This is my first time in the Midwest,” he said. “It’s a different experience, and not just because of the accent. This is a progressive state. This state’s supreme court spoke about freedom before any other supreme court.”
The visitors have had a busy schedule ever since they set foot in Iowa at the beginning of April. Their itinerary involves spending three to four days at a time staying in a different city in Iowa, so by the end of the month they will have stayed in seven different cities.
Their visit to Fairfield was just a day trip from Ottumwa, where they had been staying for a few days. The group stays at the homes of welcoming Rotarians.
The group has visited cities such as Ames, Iowa City, Des Moines, Davenport, Burlington, Dubuque and Pella.
Gonzalez said he has enjoyed the experience very much, although he misses his family and girlfriend back home.
“I’m going to be very sad when I leave Iowa, but I’m going to be very happy when I get to Chile, too,” he said.
Reyes said she has enjoyed the experience, too, although the pace of her schedule has been exhausting. The Chileans have been busy from the moment they awake until the moment their head hits the pillow at night.