Solving a real problem for those in a region that is not often considered by students looking for summer jobs was the task undertaken by a group of students from Universidad Andres Bello, Campus Viña del Mar. In addition to helping the residents of the island by constructing its first council building, students also provided legal advice and delivered health care services. Henry Orrego, president of the Student Association from UNAB Viña del Mar, said the project was presented to the students by the Ministry of Education.
"In mid-September, talks began with UNAB Viña del Mar’s Department of Student Affairs (DAE) for the joint execution of the 2013 summer project and helped with an application. In October, we received funding for social work in the country and the student association chose the commune of Juan Fernandez."
Orrego explained the choice of the island and said they "saw many places, but all too often they had been visited by other institutions and organizations. The idea was to go to the aid of some faraway place with little connectivity."
The student representative said that the successful completion of the projects on Juan Fernandez filled them with pride and allowed them to work together with the DAE. "In addition to understanding and contributing to better meet the needs of the island with volunteers. We not only far exceeded the goals in the established time but also adapted to the conditions in the best way."
Special mention, according to the student leader, needs to be paid to the Commander in Chief of the Navy, Edmundo González Robles, who helped the student team realize their dream, both volunteer as islanders go to him my sincere thanks.
Aided by the Chilean Navy, the students completed a needs assessment on the island, which helped the students confirm that they needed to facilitate legal advice, assistance in first aid, assistance in areas of ecotourism and finally to give the community of the island their first community building.
In this context, Felipe Paredes, mayor of the commune of Juan Fernandez, said after the return of the students that "I am very grateful for the work of these young people, and I am aware of how difficult it is to build on an island due to the need to bring in all materials from the mainland. They managed to realize the desire of the neighborhood council. If they could build on Juan Fernandez, they can do it anywhere in Chile".
Finally, Juan Pablo Zavala, director of the DAE, said that "this project was a big challenge, thanks to the work of students, the commitment of the Municipality, especially its Mayor Felipe Parades and the efforts of the Commander in Chief of the Navy for our transfers, we were able to complete our entire program, especially the building with active participation of the neighbors."
This article has been translated into English to be shared on the Laureate International Universities website.