Shortly after 9 p.m. Chilean time (7 p.m. in College Park) Sunday, I boarded a 767 to travel from Santiago to Atlanta, bringing to an end to a whirlwind nine-day stay in the South American country. The global study trip was part of the Smith Experience program for MBA students.
The trip included visits to: Lodge Andino in the Andes for a day of hiking and horseback riding; ProChile, the government agency tasked with promoting Chile around the globe; Subsole, a Chilean produce company; Fundacion Origen, a nonprofit school, restaurant and hotel that provides a free education for disadvantaged students from Santiago; international shipping company SAAM; Startup Chile, a government program aimed at attracting tech businesses to Chile; and the Estancia el Cuadro vineyard.
We were visited at our hotel by representatives of: La Bicicleta Verde, a company that provides bicycle tours of Chilean cities; Beervana, a recently opened store in Santiago that specializes in imports of craft beers; and The Musiet Group, which is responsible for bringing U.S. restaurant chains like Denny’s and Ruby Tuesday to Chile.
In addition to all of the company visits, the trip also included some opportunities for cultural activities. After our visit to SAAM (where the port workers were on strike, leaving ships stranded in the bay), we took a walking tour of the street art in Valparaiso. At the conclusion of the tour, we were allowed to create our own street art, with the help of two experienced graffiti artists. Following the La Bicicleta Verde presentation, several of the students on the trip participated in a bike tour of Santiago, during which we escorted through the city by several stray dogs.