Ryana en Concepcion
Posted on September 19, 2018 | Posted by Annie Saunders
Ryana Holt sends updates from her mission work in Concepcion, Chile. Check out what she’s been up to recently:
There are options of how to get to my classes. Depending on how I piece together the journey and how far away the class is, I spend about 45 minutes to 3.5 hours in transit each day. The class in Coronel, without a doubt, takes the longest to arrive at.
If I make time, I start by walking. As you could say in Spanish, soy buena para caminar. It is good for the mind, body, and pocket change since they keep raising the bus prices. I go past the discos and their funky murals, over the train tracks into the downtown and zig zag my way past corner stores and street vendors to get to the train.
If I don’t make time, I catch a bus or a colectivo (shared taxi with a specified route) then walk to train. After the 42-minute train ride, we arrive in downtown Coronel under a setting sun and I walk 15 minutes to the church. If I miss the train… Well, I have yet to miss the train.
Coronel is my last class on Mondays and Wednesdays. It is a coastal city south of Concepción. It houses big sheries, pine plantations and coal plants claiming the majority of the beach and port area, providing most all of the local jobs whilst contaminating the air and ocean and looting the environment of all the resources it can. Chile is a neoliberal project of the United States in many ways (see Chicago Boys and the CIA’s involvement in the 1973 coup ending socialism in Chile) and has privatized many of their natural resources (e.g. ocean, fresh water, minerals). The regulation for industrial impact on the environmental is weak. Some days the breeze carries a fresh ocean scent but usually it smells of fish or wood fire smoke (houses are heated by wood stoves).
The class is usually 4-6 students. We sit around a table in the church and keep our jackets on for the cold. However, the energy is warm and welcoming. The high schoolers come with questions now and then from things in school or something on TV. Others are always ready to give a new phrase a go, something I appreciate as a teacher.
Class is interspersed with laughter. They have created a safe space where they can be themselves, make mistakes, and be openly enthusiastic about their learning. We recently began to tomar once after class (a light dinner of tea or co‑ee and usually some kind of bread) and it concretes the relationships beyond class.
Getting to and from Coronel some days feels like an epic journey, but the love and learning in the group is so wonderful, I happily step out of my apartment. Here I am deepening my understanding that teaching and accompaniment are not mutually exclusive but to teach you must accompany. Truly open your eyes and ears to your students, their current moods & long term needs. Once you earn their trust and they allow you into their community, then the learning can really begin. The best part? I learn right along with them.
The other night we went over talking about weather & climate, sang “Seasons of Love” from Rent, & chatted over tea & fresh sopaipillas. After, I walked to the bus stop & climbed onto a blue lit bus. As usual, we rocketed north on the open highway towards Conce.
On the epic journey home once again and my heart was full. I thank God each time for the wonderful, kind souls I have been called to accompany and who accompany me in more ways than I can name.
Prayer Requests from Ryana:
For the IELCH (Evangelical Lutheran Church of Chile) in the grief and change that comes with death. For all who have left their homes, by choice or necessity, that they find peace and acceptance where they are. For those working in big and small ways to bring justice. For world leaders and those electing those leaders. For those living in polluted and environmentally damaged places, that they made be heard and
Read more from Ryana on her blog: https://ryanaholt.wordpress.com/