This year's Chile-California Conference, C3 2013
, takes place at Stanford University. This conference branched out of Encuentros: Connecting Chilean Minds Worldwide 2011, UC Berkeley
. Encuentros is an annual, three day conference, lead by Chilean students, taking place at major European and American universities.
I volunteered for Encuentros Berkeley 2011
doing community outreach and local press coordination. At that time, on more than one occasion, I planted the seed amongst local organizers that this sort of networking opportunity should become an annual event in California. Great minds think alike, and when spirits are high and creativity soaring, ideas in the air collide with atomic energy. Voilá! The following year, Chile California Conference, C3 2012,
took place at UC Davis. It was successful. Great to see that this initiative took off and it's going on its second year. Not easy, I know. Congratulations to the organizers!
Now, why was I pushing for an annual local "Encuentros"? Well, I have thought it important--for quite some time--that Bay Area Chileans organize an annual event that offers them the opportunity to come together. Why? Because there are pockets of Chileans throughout the Bay Area that do not interact and miss out on the opportunity to exchange ideas, talents, experiences, and prospects.
Chileans are individualistic by nature, and tend to segregate by default. Traditionally, the divide is based on class differences and political disagreements. In the grand scheme of things, I think these factors should not carry so much weight among Chileans in the United States. Why? Because the US is a melting pot of multiculturalism and networking within your culture is a proven avenue to further opportunity. Getting this message across is what The Girl from Empanada
has been working toward, one empanada at a time. I am honored to say that I share this vision with acclaimed Chilean women, such as with Professor Beatriz Manz
, Ethnic Studies Department at UC Berkeley, and with the founder and executive director of ChileGlobal
, Molly Pollack
This notion, of banding together within the immigrant experience, has been used to good effect by many immigrant groups in the United States. However, historically the pattern of Chilean migration to the United States has been by individual adventurers, entrepreneurs, dreamers, artists, etc. Most simply integrate professionally or otherwise, never thinking of promoting their cultural heritage or considering themselves as a minority group. Therefore collective influence is a concept Chileans are now just beginning to tap into.
My family came to the United States, New York City to be precise, in the mid-1950s. They were pursuing the American Dream--thinking in terms of entrepreneurial tycoons and Hollywood glory, and never thinking of themselves as an underprivileged minority. It takes years to realize how vulnerable the newcomer really
is when stepping into the asphalt jungle. It takes at least one generation before getting hip to the well designed machinations awaiting the naive and wide-eyed alien. "No, everything on TV is not true," I've had to tell many a Chilean, looking at me in disbelief.
Only during the Pinochet dictatorship did we see a significant migration from Chile to the United States, particularly to California. This was followed by a US-born generation that suffered an identity crisis--the kind of crisis clearly seen in other immigrant groups, such as young Mexican-Americans who took a stand and created the Chicano movement. To my fellow Chileans I say: Do not underestimate the power of the Latino movement in the United States, for, in the big picture, it has drawn the path that serves your
interests. Still does!
Today, Chile wants to make its mark in the United States. LAN Airlines, used to be LAN Chile. Today it's one of the leading airlines in Latin America, with flights out of San Francisco. Start-Up Chile
, a government sponsored program, offers grants to entrepreneurs to set up their ventures in Chile. Chile aspires to harbor Chilecon Valley--the Silicon Valley cornerstone of the Southern tip. The Chile-California Council
--a non-profit organization bridging academic and business opportunities between Chile and California--is headquartered at the Chilean Consulate in San Francisco
. This is why now, in today's Chilean-Californian liaisons, a strong constituency of California Chileans is called for. Whether or not you are Chilean, come network at the C3
conference to learn about business opportunities, scientific achievements, and tourism.
The Chile-California Conference
is produced by students with a cutting edge vision for the future-- primarily, students on Chilean government sponsored scholarships. C3 2013
is organized by the Chilean Student Associations at Stanford, UC Berkeley, and UC Davis, with support from the Chile-California Council
and the Consulate of Chile in San Francisco
. The speakers
are formidable intellectuals and scientists, and the workshops
touch on critical issues affecting Chile and the world. After all, today, everything--absolutely everything--affects us globally.
Following is an excerpt of the Event Details listed on the registration site Eventbrite
"In a nutshell, the Chile-California Conference (C3), brings together key actors in the realm of innovation and development-academics, students, entrepreneurs, scientists, authorities and professionals-from both Chile and California to a day-long series of panels and breakout sessions designed to promote the exchange of ideas, challenges and experiences from both territories.
One of the goals of this conference is to explore Chile's and California's similar challenges - posed by everything from similarities in climate to industry - in an attempt to find solutions for Chile where California has made progress or already succeeded.
This year's conference will focus on innovative approaches in the realms of education, health, technology, and sustainable environmentalism, areas of interest that have been recognized to be of importance for both territories."
I'd like to add to this rendition that the most important contribution that the California experience can hand down to Chile is that Chile not repeat past "mistakes" made in the United States. As Chile moves forward in its mission to become a "developed" nation, Chile continues on the path to carbon-emission industrialization, the creation of dams, genetically modified foods, industrial farming, large-scale real estate and property development, fast-food chain stores, urban renewal strip malls that destroy small businesses, etc., etc., etc.
Meanwhile, California redirects toward locally grown, small-scale, sustainable farming; regional food systems that minimize the carbon footprint; alternative-energy programs; countering fast-food for its health effects, organic agriculture and free-range cattle and poultry farming; cleaning our rivers and removing our dams; and in San Francisco we're trading our cars for bicycles.
In the twenty-first century--Chile has (still) what California strives to recover
. In my opinion, educating Chileans that becoming a "first world" country today is all about sustainability, is the greatest contribution that the Chile-California experience could ever pass-on.
¡Nos vemos! Hope to see you there!
Paula TejedaChile Lindo