Meet the Chileans

By Blake Gattuso ‘20

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As the Chilean exchange students from the Grange School have left, I asked them each a couple questions about their experiences at home, at St. Mark’s, and in America, in general.

“What is your favorite activity to do at home?”

I noticed that the Chileans’ hobbies tended to be not too dissimilar from hobbies in America. Sofia Ali-Shah likes to walk her golden retriever while Benjamin Tapia likes to play computer games like overwatch and counter-strike. Maria Retamal and Josefina Perez love to practice sports like field hockey and volleyball, respectively. The warmer climate helps out Mariana Gatica, as she likes to take trips to the beach on long weekends while Benjamin Chan enjoys hanging out with his friends.

“What is a fun fact about yourself?”

Benjamin Tapia believes that socks and sandals are the superior footwear choice, and he logically explains it. He says, “you get the freedom and comfort of wearing sandals without getting your feet dirty.” Josefina has a fraternal twin sister. As a fraternal twin myself, this is definitely the go-to fun fact when the question is asked. Maria does artistic roller skating and Mariana dances flamenco, a dance that originated in Southern Spain. Benjamin Chan acknowledges that Chinese food is not his favorite despite his parents owning a Chinese restaurant and him eating their food almost every day. Sofia did her Duke of Edinburgh award last year, which is an impressive award that acknowledges achievement in teens.

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“What is the difference between the Grange and St. Mark’s?”

The students said that the main differences were in the class schedule. There are no free periods at the Grange, and they are mandated to take every class, there is no choice. This means they are taking nine to ten classes at any time, and thus is more stressful. School starts at 7:45 am and ends at 4:00 pm at the Grange as well. They also have an obligatory physical education class in addition to extracurricular sports.

“What are some American stereotypes that you have proven true/false while you have been here?”

Sofia, Benjamin Chan, and Josefina all mentioned that it was an American stereotype to have big food portions, and their experience here has backed this up. Benjamin Tapia took this stereotype one step further, saying that everything in America is bigger. Once again, he proved this true with an interesting factoid about his thirds’ basketball teammate, Logan Matthews’ ‘22, feet:

An American stereotype that I have is that I expect everything in America to be larger. This stereotype has been proven to be correct by Logan's size 17 feet. In Chile, brands usually sell shoes up to size 12.5, which makes it difficult even for me to find shoes (I'm size 13). Which makes me not want to even think about what Logan would have to go through to find shoes his size.

Mariana was grateful that her stereotype, Americans being full of themselves, was proven false in her time at St. Mark’s.

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