Written by Sage Corps Summer 2018 fellow, Yomali Kader.
"In Santiago, I am staying at a homestay. We live in an apartment on the 12th floor in the middle of Santiago; more specifically, I live in Las Condes which has felt and been very safe. My host family is a lovely elderly couple that have two children who also have their own families; so, many times, we will have nieces or nephews swinging by and saying hello. At the beginning of my time with Miguel and Susana, there was another student staying with us. We each had our own rooms and bathrooms. She was a student from Texas studying here for 5 months. My host family has dinner every night together at the dinner table, so it was especially nice having another student there for our family conversations. We both shared our experiences and got to know each other. She had left by mid-July then during the last week of July, we received two new students from China. They are both from the same university in China and are studying Spanish, here, in Chile. Now, dinner conversations have gotten more interesting again because of the diversity in the household. The girls have shared their experiences in China and expressed their thoughts and ideas about Chile before they had gotten here and continued to update us as they got to know the city and its people. At home, I spend most of my time either at the dinner table with my family, conversing and eating, or in the kitchen learning recipes and helping Susana with meals. I have also had some down time in my room for relaxing and catching up with my family back home on the phone. The location of my apartment is very ideal since it has everything right around it. I live within walking distance from the grocery store, the mall, restaurants, the gym, and more. I found a kickboxing place nearby where I have been able to try kickboxing for the first time while making some new Chilean friends."
"My daily commute consists of walking and taking the metro. Obviously, there are certain times during the day where the metro will be very full to the point where people are trying to push and stuff themselves into the metro car. This is especially true after the work day is over; I have not experienced this in the morning yet. Within the first few days, I was able to figure out the crazy busy times and adjust my schedule slightly to avoid them. Another part that makes this process easier is our placed location. Fortunately, from where we are located, I am taking the less packed transport because of the direction I am traveling to get to work. In addition to the metro, there are bus options to get to places. I have had Sage Corps fellows tell me that there exists a website/app as well where they have been able to put their destination in and have their bus route mapped out. My host family has also been helpful with transportation and informing me when I would have to switch metro lines; there are also multiple maps in the metro station to keep me informed along any of my trips. On my way to work, I walk out of my apartment building and walk out of a neighborhood of apartments. The metro is about a 5 minute walk from my apartment. I leave around 8:40 AM to go to the metro station. On my walk over, every morning, the streets are busy with people rushing to get to work. On the sidewalks, there are vendors selling sandwiches, fruit, and yogurt cups for those that need breakfast on the go. My metro ride takes about another 5-10 minutes. Once I reach my metro stop, I walk out and again am surrounded by people getting to work and vendors on the sidewalks with your daily morning needs. I have another 5 minute walk to get to my building where I start at 9 AM."
"For my 2018 summer, I worked at a startup called Keteka. My startup's office was located in a coworking space where there around 10 other startups. I really enjoyed the environment because we had our own office space for Keteka focused meetings but then we also had an open area for everyone to work in. It is a more relaxed and open environment, I got to meet lots of other people and learn about the other startups and their stories. Our building is located in the city, in a busier section but it is not considered within the city center. There are lots of restaurants around of all types of food. Our team has gone out together occasionally for lunch during the work week. However, fortunately, while staying at a homestay, my host-mom has been packing my lunch. Most of the time, everyone packs their lunch and we all sit together during our lunch hour to chat and eat. Keteka was a team of 4 before they had 4 interns (including myself) join for the summer. During my time at Keteka, they had added another member to the team so for the most of my time in Chile, we have been a team of 9! I have only been in Chile working with Keteka for two months but it is amazing how much growth and change I have already seen in such a short period of time. As my internship comes to an end, Keteka has been preparing to not only welcome new interns to their team but another one or two members to aid in the growth and development of the company. I have absolutely loved being a part of a smaller team. I have gotten to know every person on the team; it is so cool how close the team becomes. We have had barbeques, birthday parties, and fun get-togethers that have brought us only closer as we get to know each other more outside of work. It is interesting how much more flexible, aside from the dress code, the activities and relationships are when working with a startup."
"Keteka is in the tourism and travel industry. What is different about Keteka? Well, the cofounders, Kyle and Jack, founded Keteka to bring travelers unique and personal (off the beaten path) experiences while giving back to the local community. I am a summer Digital Marketing intern at the company. I have worked on a range of projects from digital marketing, email marketing, marketing analytics, social media marketing, and uploading/editing content on the website. My startup has 2 team meetings a week to check in with everyone and hear what everyone is working on to either provide input or ask for ideas and feedback. My cool projects of the summer have been: first, getting to design and send out Keteka's first promotional campaign with a focus on gaining referrals, and second, a marketing analytics project. Anne, who I have been working closely with this summer, and I have been working together to analyze the top traffic of the first 6 months of this past year. Our goal is to expose the weaknesses in pages that are not converting and growing stronger on others. From our observations, we will take the appropriate steps for a better result or propose a test for an item to observe (hopefully) our desired results."
"I am a person that loves to stay active with sports and working out. In Santiago, I was able to find a gym close by and set up a membership for my time here. Since work did not start until 9 am, I was able to work out in the mornings. During my first week in Santiago I was able to explore my neighborhood and check out what types of places I had nearby. I was very excited to find a kickboxing club that offered classes at a great rate. I had been wanting to try kickboxing for years, so I was able to sign up and I have had the best experience with my class. I look forward to my class everyday after work; it is an absolute blast. I have gotten to know the instructors and the owner of the place as well as make some Chilean friends from the classes I have attended. I am thankful for having my cohort who are always willing to find new and fun things to check out together. We have done things like check out new bars, plan trips outside of the city, and explore different parts within the city. An example of one of our after work activities was checking out a bar called the Insert Coin Bar. Once we had arrived there and sat at a table, a couple of locals approached us with a game board they had invented. We tried out the game and assisted in the locals' marketing of the game. Yes, we thought this was strange at first too, but it turned out to be a bar full of board games and even video games on the second floor. It was a night of fun games and great people."
"At the start of our program, we had a panel discussion scheduled with 3 founders for 3 different startups. I really enjoyed listening to the story behind the startups and the each founder's experiences. I thought it was very inspirational listening to the each company's ups and downs and how they stay motivated. It was especially interesting how they came up with their ideas. They all agreed that to be successful with your idea and continue on, you need to find a need in the market. It was definitely motivational hearing them talk about times where they were close to giving up, but then turning around and focusing on a small positive and growing. Listening to their talks made it even more exciting coming in to a startup; I highly suggest talking to your boss and learning the background story of your company before getting into things. Our city managers also organized a fun wine tour for our team. I learned some things about how to appreciate and drink wine. The other event I got to attend that I found very interesting was a Digital Symposium available for the city through registration. The symposium was held in a very cool building and had a variety of speakers speaking throughout its 2 day occurrence. It was an event focused on the emerging technologies and how they will lead to the development and growth of Chile. Many of speakers talked about the importance of these different technologies and how they will shape Chile's next generation. This is something we, or at least I, have heard plenty of times but what made it more interesting was having the opportunity to hear another country's approach and ideas regarding this topic. Our city managers have been very helpful throughout our stay in Chile. They answered any questions we had and even provided us with suggestions of places to see or visit which made the stay even more exciting."
"What is so cool about Chile is that it is a country that has every type of terrain: beach, desert, mountains, city, and even snowy glacier-filled areas. I have been fortunate enough to explore a good amount of Chile, but since it is such a long country, not everything that I had wanted to. Within my first two weeks here, my cohort and I planned a visit to Valparaíso, a city known for its colorful buildings and artistic streets. Santiago's transportation options made it very easy to plan and travel to the city after a work day. Within an hour and a half, we were relaxing and hanging out in an Airbnb in the heart of the city. We spent the weekend exploring the colorful characteristics of the city and experienced the nightlife as well. Fortunately, through my startup, I was able to discover more tours and possibilities to take advantage of during my time in Chile. I had the opportunity to head to San Pedro de Atacama then cross over into Bolivia and witness the amazing scenery in person. In addition to visiting absolutely breathtaking sites, I got to share this experience with one of the fellows from my cohort. It was a blast discovering and exploring another country and culture while meeting people and making friends from our tours. Another nearby neighbor to Chile is Argentina. One weekend was spent in Mendoza with another fellow from my cohort to get to try out the BBQ and Malbec wine that Argentina is so well-known for. Aside from travelling outside of the city, there have been plenty of places to discover within the city. My first weekend in Chile consisted of travelling just an hour and a half to reach the Andes mountains. Four of us (from my cohort) decided to snowshoe within the Andes' mountain range; we were surrounded with absolutely stunning and very photo worthy views. Another highlight from my time in Chile was attending a concert of a well-known Reggaetón singer, J Balvin, with most of my cohort and some friends we made from my cowork. I absolutely loved it. I was able to attend two different Spanish concerts while in Chile and it is an experience I would highly recommend for anyone and everyone. Aside from these big events, there were fun times of attending food festivals, exploring a different region of the city--artisan shops and malls--and, of course, going dancing with friends on the weekends."
What Surprised You Most?
"The most surprising part of my Sage Corps experience has been the connections I have made during my time here, especially with my cohort. Each person has their own interests and hobbies, yet we have built relationships and shared this extraordinary unforgettable experience. Building these relationships has allowed me to grow and appreciate new connections, in general, since they have made my time here way more special. I was also very thankful of how organized and involved Sage Corps remained throughout the program. Between my startup and Sage Corps, I felt motivated to keep up with my goals for the summer, learn and explore new things, while growing as an individual."
"The advice I have for future fellows of the Sage Corps program would be to arrive to your city open-minded. Be willing to explore the city and build relationships with your cohort. I believe it is very important to learn and experience different cultures and their practices to learn to appreciate and respect the diversity. Lastly, do not be afraid to share your thoughts and ideas and express your goals to your mentor. There is a lot of room for growth in a startup and it does not hurt to suggest things and research into alternatives for problems."
Want to see more from Yomali and the Summer 2018 Santiago cohort? Check out their Instagram account, @sc.santiago_!