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Linking Parallel Universes


All at once it hit me! The work I do through Chile Lindo involves linking parallel universes. In modern physics the parallel universes theory is, just that, merely a theory, but if you ask me, in the social sciences they're as real as the stars that once guided celestial navigation.


Growing up between New York City and Chile meant steering amidst turbulent currents back and forth between latitudes; you could say, I suppose, that I'm bi-Polar.  


I've cruised enough from one sphere to another to find the spark of life in understanding divergent social worlds, each an entire universe in itself.   


My long term vision is to collide these parallel universes to create a Big Bang expanding the universe of! Preying on your primal instinct: an appetite for empanadas.   


Today's Newsletter is entirely dedicated to last year's "Encuentros 2011"--the 6th annual international conference that brought together, at UC Berkeley, for three days, an entire spectrum of parallel but different universes.


By the way, "Encuentros 2012" is launching tomorrow á Paris!



Paula Tejeda 


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San Francisco Bay Area Chilean Community
Welcomed "Encuentros 2011"

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"Encuetros 2011" took place on November 10th, 11th, and 12th, at UC Berkeley, CA. The devoted team of organizers worked on coordinating the event, for over a year, through weekly virtual meetings via Skype, from cities in Spain (Madrid), Chile (Santiago, Valdivia), and the United States (San Francisco, Berkeley, New York, Madison, Palo Alto, Minneapolis). How did they ever manage time-zone issues? Your guess is as good as mine!
"Encuentros" conferences began in Europe, in 2006, when a group of young Chilean students, scientists on study-abroad government scholarships, foresaw the benefits of creating a networking event.

The annual conference has gained significant momentum over the years. In fact, "Encuentros 2011" was an ambitious endeavor, unprecedented in its scope.

Imagine a three day conference that brought together experts on varying academic disciplines, two Nobel Prize winners, top-level Chilean government officials, international venture capitalists, renowned artists, the Chilean-Californian business community--ALL THIS EXPERTISE--convened in a highly congenial ambience, at none other than the University of California, Berkeley. Let's just say that the amalgamation of talent was of nuclear proportions.

This event was made possible thanks to the collaborative work between the Organizing & Program Committees (listed on the sidebar)--with the full support of a very proactive Advisory Committee: Rolando Ortega, Consul General of Chile in San Francisco; Molly Pollack, Executive Director of ChileGlobal; Pablo Valenzuela, founder of the biotechnology company Chiron Corporation (also founding member of a non-profit in Chile called "Fundación Ciencia para la Vida"), and Beatriz Manz, Professor of Geography and Ethnic Studies, University of California, Berkeley.
Notably, this tour de force is most indebted to the visionary Harley Shaiken, Professor and Chair of the Center for Latin American Studies, and to his Chilean wife, Beatriz Manz. For opening the doors to UC Berkeley--THANK YOU!

Be sure to check out the sidebar links!!

Following is an overview of
"Encuentros 2011."

Haciendo Chile fuera de Chile
Photo by Christine Fu
"Haciendo Chile fuera de Chile" featured Rolando Ortega, Consul General of Chile; María José Gallardo, National Association of Graduate Investigators; Jorge Rojas, Project Director of the Chile-UC Davis Partnership, and Molly Pollack, Executive Director of ChileGlobal

The three-day conference kicked off on Thursday, November 10th, at the lovely Hotel Bancroft, with a Round Table session entitled "Haciendo Chile fuera de Chile."

Denise St. James
Photo by Christine Fu
Denise Saint-Jean, program director of the National Commission of Scientific and Technological Investigation (CONICYT) talks with moderator Cristián Hernández-Cuevas, "Encuentros 2011" Vice President

The program continued with a one-on-one conversation between moderator Cristián Hernández, Vice President of "Encuentros 2011," and Denise Saint-Jean, the program director of the National Commission of Scientific and Technological Investigation (CONICYT), a branch of the Chilean Ministry of Education. Saint-Jean discussed how the Ministry is working on eliminating red tape in order to expedite government scholarships and she stressed the importance of professional development, through post-graduate education, for Chile's future quality of life. She noted that often funds for postgraduate scholarships are available, yet there's a shortage of applicants to fulfill them, specifically in the Sciences.

Photo by Christine Fu
Prof. Beatriz Manz, Advisory Committee and Luis Pablo Hervé, "Encuentros 2011" General Coordinator

Photo by Christine Fu
Horacio Salinas, music scholar, composer, and founder of the "Nueva Canción Chilena" ensemble, Inti-Illimani

"Haciendo Chile fuera de Chile" continued with Beatriz Manz introducing Horacio Salinas, the renowned music scholar, composer, and founder of the famous ensemble Inti-Illimani. Horacio Salinas and Beatriz Manz go way back, in fact Manz told everyone that it was she who gave Salina's his very first guitar, when both were still teenagers. Manz went on to address the primarily Chilean audience on the importance of honoring "our cultural heritage," reminding us that our greatest artists have not been given recognition in Chile until after they've succeeded internationally; bringing to mind the case of Gabriela Mistral, who received Chile's National Prize for Literature in 1952, seven years after receiving the Nobel Prize in 1945. Manz also reminded listeners that Chileans living abroad never stop "Haciendo Chile fuera de Chile." Well put indeed! Horacio Salinas continued to underscore the noteworthiness of international contributions by Chilean artists and intellectuals as he conveyed historical accounts of Inti-Illimani's worldwide acclaim, following with an intimate recital of his masterful guitar compositions.

CL Emp ©
Chile Lindo Empanadas

A cocktail reception followed and "The Girl from Empanada" suddenly became the center of attention as she passed around Chile Lindo Empanadas! Such is human nature, and no doubt, the best Chilean public relations is accomplished with empanadas... and let's not forget, Chilean wine, this time around courtesy of Fetzer Vineyards.

Wikipedia Image
Pablo DT Valenzuela

Dr. Pablo Valenzuela is Founder and President at Bios Chile. He is founder of the biotechnology company Chiron Corporation and founding member of the Chilean non-profit "Fundación Ciencia para la Vida."

Dr. Valenzuela is a Member of the Chilean Science Academy and recipient of the National Applied Science Award, 2002.   

Dra Hansen ©
Luisa Hansen

Senior physicist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, she received her Ph.D. in experimental Nuclear Physics from the University of California, Berkeley.

Endearingly referred to as Dra. Hansen among Chileans, she heads the Scholarship Committee of Centro Chileno Lautaro, lending economic support to Chilean college and university students.

Pub Crawl
Photo by Christine Fu
Pub Crawl

The "Encuentros" organizers always give great importance to social activities, and Chileans loooove to socialize. After the cocktail reception the crowd strolled to a nearby pub to continue discussions on a galaxy of subject matters.

Photo by Christine Fu
Molly Pollack, Executive Director of Chile Global; Parag Saxena, CEO of New Silk Route Growth Capital, Daniel Almonacid, Encuentros 2011 President

Friday's welcome and early morning sessions began on time, in spite of the previous late night rendezvous. ChileGlobal's Molly Pollack was instrumental in recruiting that morning's keynote speaker, the visionary, venture capitalist from India, Parag Saxena.

Molly Pollack's experience includes working for the United Nations, the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank, and the International Labor Organization. She is the Executive Director of ChileGlobal, a network created in 2005, dedicated to leveraging international opportunities for Chile's economy by tapping into the Chilean Diaspora.

Parag Saxena runs the biggest venture fund on investments in India, Pakistan, Dubai, and Southeast Asia. He is co-founder of Vedanta Capital and he is Founding General Partner and CEO of New Silk Route Growth Capital. Saxena serves on the Foreign Direct Investment task force reporting to the Prime Minister of India. He drew numerous parallels between Chile and India, and highlighted how Chile could create a more favorable environment for venture capital investments. One interesting concept singled out by Saxena was what he referred to as "VC zones" or "Venture Capital zones." A "VC zone" is a business hub, located in a remote area, that focusses on a particular industry (for example the construction of solar panels) and that aims at potential markets in the broader region (such as, in California, what Silicon Valley is to the high-tech industry). Foreign investors would consider taking the leap to a remote location knowing that their investments could potentially reach a broader market throughout the region. 

Hernán #
Photo by Christine Fu
Hernán Cheyre, Executive Vice President of the Chilean Economic Development Agency

The morning session was highlighted with a senior Chilean government official, Hernán Cheyre, the Executive Vice President of the Chilean Economic Development Agency (CORFO). Cheyre reiterated Saxena's views on the importance of the diaspora concept, in this case the Chilean diaspora settled not merely in California, but throughout the world.

Hernán Cheyre also heads Start-UP Chile, a highly innovative government program designed to attract entrepreneurs to launch start-ups in Chile. The program allots great incentives, beginning with a $40,000 grant of equity-free seed capital. Start-Up Chile is open to Chilean nationals and to non-Chileans from around the world.

Photo by Christine Fu

The sessions broke for lunch at the magnificent U.C. Berkeley Faculty Club. Seating was not pre-assigned, which I thought exciting for random seating could be surprising in such a diverse group. And, surprised we were at our table! As we started to interact and exchange comments on the day's conference, three young men joined us. They just happened to be at "Encuentros 2011' by chance. They were visiting the University for another reason all together. The young entrepreneurs, students from Universidad Técnica Federico Santa María, were selected (among eight finalists) at the "Intel Global Challenge People's Choice Award," held that week at UC Berkeley.
Photo courtesy of
 Jorge Alviarez

Mario Ogalde Vega, Diego Cid Allendes, and Jorge Alviárez Gómez co-founded a company called Lifeware Assistive Technologies. They joined Intel's competition with their invention, a software called LifewareIntegra that allows people to control a computer using brainwaves. This apparatus makes it possible for a handicapped person, for example a paraplegic, to operate a computer without the need to physically maneuver the keyboard or mouse. The curser is controlled by brainwaves. I was completely blown away. Mario demonstrated, on the spot, their invention. I saw with my own eyes how he placed on his head an apparatus that looked like a plastic crown with dime-size censors, and then by simply looking at the screen he moved the curser to Google Chile Lindo's facebook page and "like" Chile Lindo, not once touching the computer, but instead using his eyes and facial muscles to prompt the cursor via his brainwaves. It was truly remarkable.

Photo by Christine Fu

Friday's program continued with one jaw-dropping luminary speaker after another. I could easily write an entire essay on each speaker. I simply cannot do sufficient justice to "Encuentros 2011."

I will point out however, that although the disciplines were spread far and wide, there were nonetheless threads of commonality, such as sustainable innovation, environmental awareness, and recycling technologies. Academics certainly seem to be speaking the same language as we accelerate into the twenty-first century. Also, on more than one occasion a speaker stated that it was a thrill, and a rare privilege, to present before such a diverse audience versus the customary practice of speaking before colleagues and peers.

Following is a brief synopsis of some presenters so you can get an idea of the variety of topics discussed and the depth and sophistication of lecture content at the Encuentros conferences.

Carlos Bustamante
Photo by Christine Fu
Prof. Carlos Bustamante, University of California, Berkeley (Peru)

Carlos Bustamante is a biophysicist developing methods of single-molecule manipulation. In other words, by using a laser as an optical tweezer (physics) scientist can manipulate within a cell (biology).

Bustamante established an exact replica of his Berkeley laboratory in his native country, Peru. His lab assistant is Christian Wilson, a Chilean that  aspires to someday follow in Bustamante's footsteps and install a lab in Chile.

Photo by Christine Fu
Prof. Sylvia Guendelman, University of California, Berkeley (Chile)

Sylvia Guendelman is professor of Community Health and Human Development; her research interests include reproductive health of immigrant women, women's health, access to health care for disadvantaged populations, including the working poor, and health along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Alexandra Huneeus
Photo by Christine Fu
Prof. Alexandra Huneeus, University of Wisconsin Law School (Chile)

Alexandra Huneeus is a faculty member at the University of Wisconsin Law School, a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley, and a former fellow at Stanford University's Center on Democracy, Development and Rule of Law. Huneeus focused on the difficult task the International Criminal Court encounters on its mission to prosecute crimes against humanity. Huneeus' Ph.D. dissertation "centered on the Chilean judiciary's changing attitude towards cases of Pinochet-era human rights violations."

Huneeus + Montt
Photo by Christine Fu
Agustín Huneeus (left), Executive Director of Plan Chile-California; and Aurelio Montes (right), owner of Viña Montes in Chile

The Huneeus family is a prominent Chilean-Bay Area family. Vintner Agustín Huneeus is an entrepreneur that has helped launch Chile's wine industry internationally. Today, he heads and is board member of Plan Chile-California.

The Chile-California Program, as it was once known, is an alliance between the State of California and the Republic of Chile that dates back to the Kennedy administration. More recently though, in 2008, then-President Michelle Bachelet and then-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger launched the "Chile-California: A Parnership for the Twenty-First Century."

Photo by Christine Fu
Mark Sarkisian, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, LLP (U.S.A.)

Mark Sarkisian is Director of Seismic and Structural Engineering at the San Francisco office of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, LLP. Considering Chile's history with seismic activity, Sarkisian certainly had a captive audience.

However, the most inspiring facet of his talk centered on the study of light from a growing plant (a plant grows so that each leaf receives light throughout its development), and how this biological phenomena is applied to engineering and architecture. Sarkisian's team designed the magnificent Cathedral of Christ the Light located in Oakland, CA.

Photo by Christine Fu
Prof. Rodrigo Palma, Universidad de Chile (Chile)

Rodrigo Palma is Professor at "Facultad de Ciencias Físicas y Matematicas," Universidad de Chile. Palma heads the University's laboratory conducting research and development of renewable energies for Chile. Palma described a model that incorporates alternative energy sources combined with conventional energy sources, incorporating geothermal, solar, and wind to meet the needs of remote villages in Chile.

Photo by Christine Fu
Prof. María-Paz Gutierrez, University of California, Berkeley (Chile-USA)

María-Paz Gutierrez is a Chilean-American conducting research at the University of California, Berkeley. Her work applies micro-engineering technology to develop highly innovative housing projects, built with self-sustainable materials, that use resource-efficiency, and that have the capability to manage waste. These modules are thought of, primarily, for high-flood slum areas "to reduce energy and water consumption and improve human comfort."

Gutierrez is the founder of BIOMS (Bio Input Onto Material Systems), an interdisciplinary research initiative intersecting architecture and sciences, such as bioengineering, to integrate principles of design and biophysics.

Photo by Christine Fu
"Nobel Ideas"

Time came to present the much awaited session titled "Nobel Ideas," and the honor of introducing the Nobel Laureates went to Christian Wilson, a scholar and junior specialist at the department of Biochemistry & Biophysics at the University of California, Berkeley. Wilson (be not fooled or deceived by the last name, he is Chilean) introduced Nobel Prize winners: Charles Townes, UC Berkeley, Nobel Prize in Physics, 1964; and Douglas Osheroff, Stanford University, Nobel Prize in Physics, 1996.

For the occasion Jorge Ruffinelli, Professor of Iberian and Latin American Cultures at Stanford, moderated.
looking up
Photo by Christine Fu
Here everyone looks up as Wilson projects exclusive photographs (provided by Ruffinelli), of a time when a very young Ruffinelli (Uruguay) visited Isla Negra to interview two very young would-be Nobel Prize winners: Pablo Neruda and Mario Vargas Llosa.

Nobels and Ruff
Photo by Christine Fu
Charles Townes (left), Jorge Ruffinelli (center), Douglas Osheroff (right).

The Q&A between the Nobel prize winners and the audience gravitated mostly to the realm of personal anecdotes rather than to the sphere of high physics; I was absolutely amused at Charles Townes' (left) anecdote that went as follows: when asked by the University Director "what would he want the University to grant him for bringing such prestige to Berkeley?" He simply responded: "a parking space outside the lab." Genius is always simple, no?

Photo by Christine Fu
Paula Tejeda Rieloff and Prof. Carlos Bustamante

Never one to shy away from asking questions, "Encuentros 2011" was the opportunity of a lifetime. How often do you get to ask not one, but two Nobel prize recipients about your favorite theories, string theory and about parallel universes?

Photo by Christine Fu
Rolando Ortega, Consul General of Chile in San Francisco

Chile's well respected and popular San Franicsco Consul General, Rolando Ortega, attended the three-day conference, with pen and notebook in hand--he didn't miss a beat!

Photo by Christine Fu
Poster Session

In academia a Poster Session is where-and-how students present their latest research projects at conferences. At "Encuetros 2011" forty Chilean students, studying at far ends of the world, participated in the Poster Session and had the singular opportunity to present their ideas to top professionals in their fields and to, not one, but two Nobel Prize winners.

CLTable ©
Chile Lindo

I too set up my own "Poster Session"--voilà! A display of the evolution of my entrepreneurial vision, Chile Lindo: from empanadas to goodwill ambassador on a mission to link parallel universes.

I took the opportunity to distribute to students and participants t-shirts I had leftover from a "Los Jaivas" concert I produced in 2005. Douglas Osheroff, Nobel Prize in Physics, came up to me and was happy to receive a t-shirt. He then asked me about this Andean-Rock group, "Los Jaivas," and the symbolism represented by the logo on the t-shirt. He said he would "look up their music."

Osheroff proceeded to take notice of my work and asked me to forward Chile Lindo's website for he wanted to visit my empanada shop in the Mission District. Such is the inquisitive mind of a Nobel Prize winner--it does not discriminate when it comes to a new discovery.

Photo by Christine Fu
A videotaped message from
former Chilean President, Michelle Bachelet

Unfortunately, Michelle Bachelet, originally scheduled to give the closing keynote address, was not able to attend due to pressing business at the United Nations where she is the Executive Director of UN Women. However, once again, Beatriz Manz saved the day as she interceded on behalf of the organizers requesting a brief videotaped statement from the former Chilean President. Bachelet was so gracious as to take time from her busy schedule and send a personalized message to the "Encuentros 2011" participants.

View our videos on YouTube

Photo by Christine Fu
Isaac D. Scherson, University of California Irving, Information and Communication Technology

Here addressing the "Encuentros 2011" audience and giving a heartfelt congratulatory message to the community for the Conference's notable achievements. 

Photo by Christine Fu

A dance at La Peña de Berkeley brought together professors, students, and conference participants from around the world to conclude the three day conference.

Org Comm
Photo by Christine Fu
"Encuentros 2011" Organizing Committee

Once "Encuentros 2011" was over the organizing committee, primarily Chilean students, experienced a fair dosage of post-production blues--bouncing e-mails back and forth to salute each other on "a job well done!"

I hope you will visit  Encuentros PARIS to become better acquainted with this annual event.

Finally, a well deserved acknowledgment to "Encuentros 2011" President, Daniel Almonacid.


The 7th annual conference:

Sorbonne University

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Paula Tejeda