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  • Writer's pictureValpo Surf Project

COVID-19 Programming Update

Updated: Sep 18, 2020

September 18, or "Fiestas Patrias" which marks the beginning of the legal process in 1810 that gave Chile independence from Spain, is usually celebrated with local fairs, barbecues, and time spent together. This year, as Valparaíso enters its fourth month of strict quarantine, things will be quite different. What we would give to be celebrating the upcoming Chilean holiday with our students and a much needed surf day. COVID-19 has turned all of our world’s upside-down and the Valpo Surf Project has had to adapt accordingly.

We sent out a letter in May outlining the situation our students and families are facing and the need for your support. We are so grateful to all who donated and have reached out to the VSP. Thanks to your generosity, the Valpo Surf Project has been able to stay in contact with our students and their families, providing mental health and wellness check-ins, as well as remote individualized academic support. We have been able to make essential deliveries to our communities, including food for local community kitchens, sanitary products, and school assignments. We have started to deliver these supplies on a monthly basis, reaching over 600 people each delivery. Finally, we have created online communities, currently on WhatsApp, Facebook, and Instagram, that have engaged over 300 people including our regular students.

We’d like to give a big thank you to Rocío, Victoria, and their friends from Colegio Los Alerces who have worked hard to donate 30 tablets to the VSP. We are very excited to fit these tablets with internet access, loan them to our students during these difficult times, and use them in English classes and tutoring sessions when the pandemic is over. With the help of the tablets, we will also begin online English classes and check-ins through virtual classrooms.

We have an incredible team of interns that is creating meaningful online programming for our students and communities.

From upper left to lower right: María, Carla (VSP Social Work & Programming Coordinator), Adrian, Abby (VSP Development Coordinator), Paolo, Kacey, Wiley (VSP CEO), Claudio (VSP Chile Country Director), Elisa, Tamara, Valentina, and Paula

Paula, Valentina, and Tamara are 3 students studying Social Work at Universidad Andrés Bello. They are now starting their second semester with us and have been integral to getting our online communities up and running. They have used their studies, interests, and compassion to create content and activities for our students to do at home. They have covered topics from hand washing, art projects, healthy recipes, yoga, and much more.

Kacey, a senior studying psychology at the University of Oregon, has recently joined our team and is incorporating English lessons into our posts. She has taken on the challenge of teaching a second language without physically being present. We have been loving her content and design skills.

Catalina, Luis, Ximena, Matías, and Andrés, are all part of a team called CienciAzul and are students studying marine biology at the Universidad de Valparaíso. CienciAzul took over our Instagram and Facebook for two weeks and taught us about oceanic ecosystems and the importance of protecting them. It was a great way to get back in the ocean from the safety of our homes!

Check out their work on Instagram @vspchile.

Moving programming online has been challenging for our students and our team. We all greatly miss the ability to be together and connect through in-person conversations and VSP activities. Many of our students lack reliable internet access making it difficult for them to attend school, let alone the online extracurricular activities we offer. That being said, we have also seen many positives to creating an online community and hope to continue building this new community to complement our in-person programming activities once the pandemic is over.

María José, María, Adrian, Paolo, and Elisa are students from Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile who are part of a consulting club under the guidance of the Boston Consulting Group. They are working with us to expand our online reach and create a user-friendly, secure platform to continue hosting online programming. We are grateful for their expertise and excited to see the possibilities of what we can do online and how it can further benefit our students.

Though we are anxious to get back to our normal programming, with your help we have been able to face the current challenges head on and continue to support our communities. Thank you to all our interns for your hard work and thank you to all of our supporters for keeping us afloat. This work is not possible without you.

Stay tuned for more updates. Abrazos!

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