On this page, we hope to address the most commonly asked questions about the Legacy Project's program in Chile and Argentina. We will continue to expand and update this section as needed.
What will a typical day look like?
We will generally rise around 7am, eating breakfast in the hostel and prepping for the day. By 8am, we'll be out the door, en route to our first meeting. Our goal will be to have two meetings/visits/interviews per day, though some days we may schedule a third. Meetings often run two hours, sometimes longer. The reason is that we like to have a full-group discussion with our Chilean/Argentine expert as well as a formal interview on camera (though we are reviewing this approach for 2010). Whenever possible, we leave at least a couple of hours between interviews, to eat, decompress and debrief, and prepare for the next meeting.
When meetings have wrapped up for the day, we take advantage of whatever daylight remains to experience the city. Given that we will be in South America during their winter, though, we do have to deal with shorter days and colder nights. However, that actually works out well, as post-dinner time is spent in full-group meetings, doing a complete review of the day's discussions and developing interview questions for the next day.
Of course, reading the previous two paragraphs in isolation could make the trip sound like a corporate office job. So, let's fill in a couple of blanks. Imagine spending the morning visiting a former government detention center with an ex-prisoner. He describes being tortured by secret police, as well as his struggle to pursue justice in the years following his release. In the afternoon, you speak with a grandmother, whose pregnant daughter and son-in-law were kidnapped by the government. Her grandchild, subsequently born and given to a military family, has years later been properly identified and reunited with her grandmother, who can now speak about the power of hope and persistence in dire times. These kinds of firsthand accounts are what make Legacy Project trips powerful, poignant, and memorable.
Doesn't the subject matter get overwhelming or heavy after a while?
It certainly can. There are two ways we strive to keep the emotional toll manageable. First, our emphasis is not so much on the tragic events of the past specifically, but rather on the pursuit of transitional justice and personal transformation in the wake of those events. The result, often, is stories that uplift and inspire as much as they give pause. Second, we are well aware of when the heaviness threatens to overwhelm. We deliberately schedule downtime; on past trips we have dropped everything to visit the zoo or jump in a river. There have to be moments of laughter and joy.
What role will students play in the filming process?
We are constantly revisiting this issue, but one of our goals in designing this new trip is to increase student involvement in the documentation efforts. In South America, we hope to have students assist with setting up equipment, operating the camera, and participating in interviews. We also document student reflections on camera as a critical component of the program.
Are Chile and Argentina safe?
Argentina and Chile are probably the two safest countries in South America. They're clearly safer than South Africa and perhaps comparable with Poland. Even the state department has a hard time identifying concerns. In Argentina, they mention that Argentine drivers are terrible and that people like to hold demonstrations. In Chile, the best they can come up with is the slight possibility that Indians in southern Chile might do something, but that it almost certainly won't target foreigners (and, beyond that, we won't be in southern Chile anyway). Sure, there's a chance of getting your pocket picked, but not nearly as high as in Italy. Urban travel everywhere requires a measure of alertness, but beyond that there are no serious concerns. In addition, there are no problems with infectious disease and even the tap water is fine to drink.
How will you travel around Chile and Argentina?
In Santiago and Buenos Aires, we will travel primarily by subway, with less frequent trips by public bus and taxi. Longer-distance trips will be made by bus. Chile and Argentina have very comfortable buses - big, cushy seats that almost fully recline, plus meal service and movies. It's much, much nicer than Greyhound.
What should we pack?
Bear in mind that we will be there in the winter. Average temps can fall in the 40s and low 50s. Shorts and tanktops may not be advisable. Our hostels are well heated, though, and the beds come with plenty of blankets.
We ask all students to limit themselves to one backpack (a small daypack to go along with that is fine). Formal clothing is not necessary (and would be a pain, given the backpack rule), but you should be able to appear respectably dressed if circumstances demand. Laundry is generally pretty easy to do, so there's no need to bring too many different sets of clothes.
How is this trip different from the scouting trip you ran to Chile and Argentina in 2009?
The scouting trip in May 2009 included one trip leader and five returning Legacy Project students. It's the first time we've done a scouting trip of this kind, but we did it specifically to set up this year's program. Thanks to last year's visit, we have a long list of contacts in Chile and Argentina, friends to meet with again next summer as well as new connections opened to us because of the relationships we made. We also received an excellent introduction to the issues as seen through the eyes of Chileans and Argentines, a critical counterpoint to published historical accounts. And, of course, we now have a solid logistical understanding of Santiago and Buenos Aires, which will make trip coordination even easier.
By returning in 2010 with a full student group, we now have the opportunity to document these fascinating people and memory sites, and pursue themes in much greater depth.
How many students will you take and how will you select them?
We will select 8-10 students, and our preference is towards the lower end of that range. Legacy Project trips have traditionally been open to high school and college students, and we will accept applications from both, though our preference is that the group be majority high school.
Our focus in selecting students is always on constructing a strong group, in which different students bring complementary skills and an ability to coexist. We will seriously consider the application essay and also seek feedback from Overlake faculty. It would be nice to have at least a couple of students with some Spanish skills, others with camera-operating experience, and still others with strong travel experience. Most important, of course, is intellectual curiosity and a genuine interest in the subject matter. This is not a vacation - students need to be excited and dedicated to the project.
What is the connection between the Legacy Project and Overlake?
The Legacy Project is not an Overlake program. There is no official relationship between Overlake and the Legacy Project. That said, one of the co-leaders, Dave Whitson, was a teacher at Overlake from 2005-2008 and is also an alum, and his preference has always been to fill the trip with Overlakers and Overlake alum. We will accept applications from non-Overlakers, but the preference remains.
Will a vegetarian (or person with other dietary restrictions) be able to find things to eat?
Absolutely. It's worth noting that one trip leader is vegetarian, the other is vegan, and our translator is vegan. No vegetarian is going hungry on this trip. Meat-eaters, of course, are in luck - Argentina is steak country.
What are your rules on student behavior?
The general rules that apply to student travel at Overlake apply to these trips - no booze, no smoking, no drugs, no sneaking out, no inappropriate behavior, etc. Minor offenses are given a warning with parental notification. Major offenses can and most likely will result in the student being shipped home early, at their parents' expense. This is entirely up to the trip leaders' discretion and will be spelled out in writing in greater detail prior to the trip.
More on the Legacy Project's 2010 program in Chile and Argentina:
Application: Click here to apply for the Legacy Project's 2010 program in Chile and Argentina!
FAQ: A rough overview of the trip as planned (regularly updated)
Itinerary: A rough overview of the trip as planned (regularly updated)
Scouting Trip Report: Detailed reports from the many meetings we had on our scouting trip to Chile and Argentina in May 2009
Argentine Detention Centers: An overview of the major ex-Clandestine Centers of Detention, Torture, and Execution in Buenos Aires with advice on visiting them
Annotated Bibliography: The most useful books we have read in preparation for the program
Other Resources: Assorted links to helpful sites.