Flying into Chile was an awesome experience for our team. The Andes mountain range enveloped Chile in a way that seemed to protect the country like a giant looking over it. Upon entering Santiago, what we found interesting was the separation from the “haves” and the “have-nots,” not unlike big cities in the United States, just more noticeable due to proximity to the major highway. The area before entering the tunnel was a poverty stricken shantytown, much like one would imagine in a third world country. The water source for that part of the city was a river that flowed from the ice caps high on the tallest mountaintop in Chile. Though it was the main water source, the river was littered with debris, as if the residence in this part of the city had no pride in the appearance of their city.
Immediately upon exiting the tunnel and entering Santiago, it seemed as if we entered another world. The ramshackle hovels were replaced with beautiful high-rise buildings, designed by the best architects. The streets of this part of the city were very clean, and the waterway was pristine. Yet one item caught our eye—graffiti painted on the walls of every building. It provided a sad continuity to the previous sentiment—that some residents did not take pride in their city. In discussions with our hosts, we learned that there is no penalty for defacing property—even historical monuments. Apparently most of the offenders are 8-9 year old kids from broken families, and the public sentiment is that prosecution of their crimes would serve no purpose.
On Sunday, we were able to visit the Andes Mountains. Some individuals hiked the mountains, while others took in the scenery via horseback. The view of the mountains was absolutely amazing. The drive to the mountains was a bit scary, as the roads were winding with very deep drop offs. However, this did not detract from the experience. The trip to the mountains made us appreciate what a beautiful world God has given to us.
On Monday, we started the day with a trip to the Proctor and Gamble plant. Being from America, we expected to see a plant that needed a lot of work to get up to the American standards. We were pleasantly surprised to find an extremely clean and well-organized plant that met the highest standards of cleanliness and organization. It was evident that they used many of the techniques we discussed in Operations Management. The plant received its operating standards from the global corporation, which provided standardization and continuity across its worldwide operations.
We all agreed that our time in Chile was well worth the trip. The country is absolutely beautiful, the local cuisine was great and the people were extremely nice and grateful to host us. Our team is extremely grateful to the University of Alabama for giving us this opportunity to see such a beautiful part of the world, and to blend into a different culture.
Team: Crimson Express
Brad Wood, Ray Chowdhury, Brandon Cole, Emmett Garrett and Robert Justice