The Chilean culture continued to surprise me throughout the trip. I am very inspired by how patriotic Chileans are about their country and I wish us New Zealanders took more pride in the beautiful country that we live in. All the people that we meet were very hospitable and welcoming to us. Everywhere we went, we saw a lot of beautiful, colourful street art and I love how they could cover up ugly buildings with bright colours. However, underneath the bright, colourful street art and many Chilean flags there is an obviously large wealth gap. Coming in to Santiago from the airport we saw slums that many people call home. In the same city there were high rises and fancy apartments. We later learnt that Santiago has a very unequal distribution of income. Unfortunately this a very hard problem to solve and one that is commonly found around the world. After meeting 4 Chilean high school students we became aware of the differences in Chilean education. Public schools in Chile are know to be bad and students that go to these schools will find it very hard to pass the test to enter university. The private schools, however, provide very good education but are also very expensive. We were told that if parents in Chile want their child to go to university they have to be prepared to pay for their child to go to a private school. This results in schooling being an indicator of social class. Young people in Chile are quite divided and tend to only socialise with people from their school or a similar school. Overall, the Chilean culture is one that I greatly respect and the Chilean people were all very kind and welcoming to us.
While in Chile, we were put into teams of three (two New Zealanders and one Chilean) and we were given a business challenge. Our challenge was to give advice to a small to medium sized New Zealand business wanting to enter the Chilean market. Before we started the challenge, we visited eight businesses (The Intern Group, Fracctal, Soprole, Start-Up Chile, El Centro De Innovacion, Keteka, Motion Displays, and Magma Partners) the NZ embassy, and New Zealand Trade and Enterprise. We were able to ask the representatives of the companies about doing business in Chile and the opportunities and challenges they have faced. We learnt that business in Chile takes a long time and that you need to be very patient when working with other companies. To get things done you also need to form relationships first. Chile has a relationship and contacts based business culture. Networking is very important in Chile, because pitutos (business contacts) can help you get things done faster. Chileans tend to be quite suspicious especially of non-chileans, so it is important to become friends and build trust before discussing business. The Intern Group taught us the importance of tangible and liveable company values and a strong team. Businesses go through many ups and downs, so while entering any market it is important to have a strong team leading the company and all staff members following the company’s aims and values.
At the beginning of the trip we were told to “sacar el jugo” which means to suck the juice. We were told to make the most out of the trip and to extent our cultural and business knowledge. I believe that I did make the most out of every moment and I enjoyed every second of being in Chile. Personally, this trip has grown my love and passion for South America and has made me realise how important it is to me that I return to South America for a longer period of time. My knowledge of Spanish improved greatly, because I was able to speak in Spanish everyday. This trip pushed me well out of my comfort zone and helped me realise that I am much braver and more confident than I thought. When I was four, I was diagnosed with a condition called Aspergers, which is a developmental disorder that affects the ability to effectively socialise and communicate. I struggled with this a lot when I was younger, but as I got older I decided that I didn’t want to let it affect me anymore. I started taking up every opportunity I could that would push me out of my comfort zone and help me become more comfortable in social situations. The trip to Chile made me realise that this condition doesn’t affect me anymore and no longer holds me back. I felt comfortable in social situations with people that I hardly knew and I was able to make connections and friends easily. I am very grateful to all the people involved with the trip to Chile because it has helped me in ways that I can’t even describe, and I had probably the best 7 days of my life.
- Rachael Winder, Middleton Grange School, Christchurch