It is 6 PM on a Wednesday July evening, and I am sitting at the Santiago airport, awaiting my overnight flight back to the US. I have to admit, I am a little sad writing this final blog, as it signifies the end of my five weeks here in Chile. Goodbyes are never easy, but at the very least, I feel accomplished in my time spent in my second favorite country. Not only will I be returning home with plenty of stories and memories, I’ll also be stepping on American soil with plenty of research data, equipped and ready to take on the writing of my senior year capstone project.
As for this blog post’s spotlight on a Notre Dame institution offering research opportunities to undergraduates, I would like to extend a personal and special shout-out to the Institute for Scholarship in the Liberal Arts, the office from which I received my summer grant in order to conduct my research. The Institute for Scholarship in the Liberal Arts, or ISLA, for short, provides grants to faculty, graduate students and undergraduate students in the College of Arts and Letters. The goal of ISLA is to promote research in the arts, humanities and social sciences and to enhance the intellectual life on campus. Specifically, for undergraduates, ISLA offers the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program, which offers financial support for students conducting research for their senior thesis, carrying out a creative project or presenting at a conference. In addition to the grants offered during the academic year, ISLA also offers multiple summer grants – The Da Vinci Grant Program, American Dream Grant Program and the Comprehensive Summer Grant. Be sure to peruse the ISLA website so that you can check out all that ISLA has to offer and read about past award recipients and the work they are doing. To wrap up this series of spotlights, I would like to personally and genuinely thank ISLA for choosing to support my research project because without their financial assistance, this project would not have been an option for me. Thanks to ISLA, I was able to learn about a topic that I am passionate about in a place that I adore. Thanks to ISLA, I look forward with great excitement to writing my capstone.
As for me, I am hoping that this is not the end of my researching days. I feel that this first experience – putting together a research proposal, applying for a grant & conducting my research – was full of challenges; but they were challenges from which I learned much. I learned that in conducting research, not everything will go as planned. Protests, fires and school shut downs were large obstacles in the successful execution of my research. While discouraging at times, these surprises also kept the experience exciting, and they challenged me to not only be flexible but to also be creative and resilient so that I could make the best use of my time to collect whatever information I could. At the end of my five weeks, I found that research can be particularly rewarding, especially when investigating a topic for which you have great passion.
To sign off, I have shared a picture of one of my favorite places in Santiago - the top floor of my apartment building, which offered the best views of the entire city. I loved to go up there early in the morning to see the sunrise before Santiago’s infamous smog would take over the city for the day. I don’t know when I will be back to Santiago, but I am glad I have the memories and the photos to constantly revisit this place in my mind.
Muchas gracias a todos por leer este blog y por acompañarme a través de esta aventura!
Un abrazo grande,