Chilean Flavor – Making Pebre in Choshuenco

While in Choshuenco, we eat at a wonderful local restaurant called El Rucapillán. Though the meals are filling and flavorful, my favorite part of dinner in Choshuenco is always the pebre. Pebre is a traditional Chilean salsa, often spicy and always delicious. Each night in Choshuenco, we find a different pebre on the table. Sometimes it’s mild and bright red; other nights, garlic-filled and salmon-colored, others still, spicy and pale pink. It complements every meal wonderfully, from simple bread and butter to sausage and bean stew. Since we first arrived in Choshuenco, I’ve been determined to learn how to make it. A stilted but successful conversation with the owners of the restaurant settled the plan for Sunday evening, just before dinner.

After a sun-filled afternoon on the beach of Lago Panguipulli, Emily and Allison decided to join me on my culinary adventure. We eagerly made our way to the restaurant, where Veronica ushered us into the kitchen. She was delighted to have three new American pupils, and immediately washed and organized the ingredients: seven or eight plump tomatoes, a handful of yellow ají peppers, a couple small green hot peppers, and two bell peppers. As Veronica sliced up the vegetables, she chatted with Emily, Allison, and I about our hometowns. We discovered that Veronica has a childhood friend who lives in Emily’s home state of New Jersey, and that TV shows have led Veronica to some strange assumptions about Allison’s home state of Texas. As we learned about each others’ hometowns, Veronica tossed the ingredients into a blender with half a cup of water, and pulsed the veggies into the rose-hued salsa that we all adore. She poured the fresh salsa into a large glass jar, and as our conversation drew to a close, we thought our simple lesson might be over.

But we still needed to add salt and the critically important ingredient, cilantro. Veronica hurried off, and I assumed she would return with a handful of cilantro from the fridge. Instead, she beckoned for us to follow her. Out of the kitchen and through the laundry room, we followed her into an alcove behind the restaurant, where we found ourselves surrounded by raised beds. She bent down and plucked a few leaves off of a plant, brought them to her nose, then ours – fresh oregano!

We proceeded to follow her on a tour of the garden. Inside a small greenhouse, cucumbers and tomatoes climbed towards the ceiling and basil grew steadily; beside the greenhouse, squash and zucchini plants flowered. Veronica pointed out the herbs in the raised beds lining the restaurant wall: cilantro, oregano, a local variety of rosemary, and many more. She picked a handful of cilantro and a pinch of rosemary. We munched on a freshly plucked cucumber as she told us that the restaurant uses herbs and vegetables from their garden as much as possible – especially when they make fresh pebre.

Back in the kitchen, Veronica briskly chopped up the herbs and added them to jar. After a heaping spoonful of salt, the pebre was complete. We each tasted a small spoonful, oohing and aahing over the perfect freshness and spiciness. Veronica was delighted, and we left the restaurant a small bowl of pebre all for ourselves – as well as a great new friend!

At dinner, with bowls of our freshly prepared pebre on the table, Emily and Allison chatted with their friends about the recipe, making plans to prepare it at home for their families. “We should make it in the cabanas!” said one of their housemates. Everyone was excited to practice the new recipe, in Chile and back at home. It was a fabulous end to our weekend of paddling and roll practice, a wonderful moment of cross-cultural learning to conclude our final weekend in the Lakes District.

Written by: Angelica Calabrese

Visitamos el Museo de Neltume


Our Spanish C Teaching Fellow, Melissa, took it upon herself to contact the local museum. She thought that perhaps we could bring our students there. The curator was overjoyed.

The kids were asked to record information about Neltume they hadn’t know yet while also searching through the plaques for the grammar they’ve been learning. They talked about the worker revolutions that began here. They learned about how artisanal woodworking has at once torn the forest down while lifting its people up. And from talking to the curator, they learned about the pride these people feel for their history and their land.




Ego tripping

We are studying magical realism in English class and are discussing what about these stories is true. Magical realism arises from real experience, real settings, and real characters but imbues reality with magical and fantastical elements. The magical components are used to provide contrast to daily life, norms and things we take for granted or as givens. They are used to expand our notions of what is possible so that we can more fully see reality and options that exist to improve it. And finally, the goal is to use magical elements to illuminate “truths” that are often hidden in our normal examination of life and ourselves. Writers use this style to portray ordinary life in a way that allows the reader to see it anew, to recognize the everyday magic, horror, beauty and possibility in life or in people.

We used this base to explore extraordinary notions of ourselves and to challenge the idea that when we speak of ourselves and our abilities it is better, more correct, more real, or more reasonable to devalue, minimize and doubt our capabilities. These excerpts of poems come from a prompt to indulge in “ego tripping” ... and every single word is TRUE.

I am unstoppable,
No one can stand in my way
I have climbed the tallest mountains and became one with them
Everest grew up from under me
I have been an eagle
Majestic and mightier than you
Everywhere I soar people watch
My eyes hold the world
Blue oceans and skies... ~EShenck

I am so unique
I don’t even have a shadow
Because nothing in the this world can be compared with me ~AMontes

I am down to earth and up in the sky all at the same time
I “throw like a girl” but can catch a million people in my arms
I have, will, and am going to change the world...
I have friends and a family
I have a bed and a home
I have food on my plate and clothes on my back
I simply have everything~CBecker

I have eyelashes so long and strong you can hang ornaments on them like a Christmas tree,
My feet barely tred on the earth as I run, marking my path in the world~MRhueman

The light from my smile illuminated the path for the three wise men,
Babies cry when they are born because they know they are missing out on a life of endless love from my booming heart~JWinborne

My body was carved from the canyons toughest of stone
The finest artisans worked day and night to create a show that could harness the canyons most determined soul~LMurphy

The latitude that the magical realism style provides allows students to unabashedly speak truths about themselves and endulge in warranted self love. Each one of these students truly is that divine, that beautiful, that capable, and that exceptional.

Written by Irene Shaver --English B

The Rio Baker: a Chilean Expedition

Kayaking 150 kilometers is not an easy feat, and also not part of the everyday life of the average high school student. This unique lifestyle is very common in the day to day life of an Alzar School student. Through completing this challenging goal, the students fulfilled the six Foundations of the Alzar School; these elements include academics, outdoor adventure, environmental stewardship, cultural exchange, leadership training, and service learning.


The students on this expedition woke up early each morning in order to pack all their personal gear, complete their daily chores, and get the group prepared for embarking on the river each morning. Through this outdoor adventure of paddling on the river, these students fostered a relationship with the environment and learned how to leave as little trace as possible moving from one campsite to the next.


At the end of a long day of paddling through the beautiful wilderness of the Baker River, students would have an hour or so to complete schoolwork on their iPads. Each night a subject is assigned in which all the students complete work in that particular subject.

Two students from Los Escualos, a local kayaking club here in Cochrane, joined us for the entire expedition. They joined us for meals, leadership debriefs, and participated in other group activities on and off the river. Our Alzar School students were forced to go out of their comfort zones in order to communicate with the se students on a daily basis, and strengthened their Spanish skills socially and dynamically.


Leaders of the day (LODs) are assigned every two days and are in charge of facilitating the group and guiding them through different tasks, such as chores, meals, and explaining the overall schedule and goals for the next few days. Each evening, the group comes together to debrief the progress of the LODs that specific day, focusing on specific instances that show either a positive aspect of the 10 Elements of Leadership, or a delta, which is something that can be changed or worked on in the future.


It is essential for students to complete their chores in a timely manner in order for them to be set up for success during the day. This service learning is integral to the big picture of the expedition and the success of each day.

This expedition is just a glimpse into the daily life of an Alzar School Student and the uniqueness of this semester school. We are about to embark on another expedition before we spend time in the cities strictly taking classes, participating in cultural activities, and strengthening hard skills in white water kayaking. When we need a classroom, the world awaits.

Narrating History

Alzar Photo

Many high school students equate the study of history with the rote memorization of facts and dates, which are seemingly disconnected from a larger context.  Remarking on this problem, sociologist James Loewen concludes that most students learn to dislike history as a subject simply because it seems too boring.  This perception can be exacerbated by long lectures, endless textbook readings, and tests consisting of  vaguely-worded, multiple-choice questions.  Therefore, a central question for teachers to answer is, how can a history curriculum simultaneously provide a broad and complex understanding of the past while still maintaining student attention?

Here at the Alzar School, we endeavor to counter the prevalent notion that history is inherently uninteresting through a variety of means. One way this is accomplished is by presenting historical processes and events through a narrative lens. This strategy enables students to understand social, cultural, and economic shifts as interlinked phenomenon, rather than isolated occurrences. Instead of relying upon the exhaustive descriptions of relevant  events and figures presented by our textbook, students are challenged to conduct independent research, examine period-specific primary sources, and  situate complex ideas in a larger context during class debates and creative writing assignments. The objective of these various activities is to allow students to gain a nuanced understanding of the subject, eschewing the reductive view that history can be told as a single story.  

A concrete way that students are encouraged to consider multiple perspectives and the contingency of the historical process is through the Avatar Blog project.  This assignment challenges students to adopt the identity of a specific historical actor during a given period of time. After they have chosen their identity, students then create a narrative about their “avatar” which is grounded in a firm foundation of historical plausibility.  While they are writing, students are pushed to consider the everyday concerns of their “avatar,”  as well as the overarching social, political, and economic forces influencing their opinions and actions.  By personalizing historical events, this assignment aims to make the study of history more engaging and accessible.  Not only does this give students a more nuanced understanding of a particular moment in time, it also helps them cultivate relevant research and writing skills.  

Several weeks ago, Alzar’s US History students were given a prompt that required them to simulate the first contact between Amerindians and European explorers in the New World.  The parameters of this assignment stipulated:

Imagine you were present for the initial contact between Native Americans or European explorers (or one of their servants) somewhere on the North American continent. In this writing assignment you will describe this encounter, as well as your perception of the people you are meeting. Although this entry should be loosely based on historical fact, you are allowed some creative license in crafting your entry. Things to consider would be your reaction to seeing new social structures, geographies, cultural practices (especially beliefs about property rights), and anything else you feel is noteworthy.

Students responded to this in a variety of ways, with some adopting the identity of native Americans,  while others chose the perspective of European explorers.  Here are two excerpts created by our students, Darron and Sierra:

Eight of May, Fifteen Hundred forty one,

6:34am, dawn

It has been an exhaustive journey in the Americas. Since the initial reaching of the mainland coast, exactly two years earlier, we endureth much. Out of many, only 20 reach the end. An unfortunate attack occurred just 350 miles northeast of this reference near Mabila. Foreign civilians of the new world, sprang up, surrounding our army and the other Spanish-men. Desoto, our troop leader, cognition couldn't have fathomed such an unfortunate incursion on these loosely populous lands of the new land. Apparently, word travels rather quickly in these parts. But just as quickly as death encroached our men, the entirety of these Indian-men soon lie before us lost for eternity. We search endlessly for riches in precious ores and resources for the crown of Spain. Pizarro and Hernando Cortes' successful conquest in North America began the envious nature of Desoto, thus prompting his action to become a conquistadors.

For the beginning, I reluctantly take part in these act of injustice.  Injustices seems to reside in the very fabrication of our being. I fear my attendance of such injustice has surely preserved me nuck in hell. Just look. Desoto's continual usage of orange shackles enslave the Indians on their own land. His longing to be of the great obscures his cognition and judgement. Why shall these indigenous people suffer and die because of a pitiful game of tomfoolery? The unsuccessful journey that lie around-absence of water,harsh weather conditions, and scarcity of food-complicates my perspective of living and progressing forward even if resources are ahead. I know resistance to any command from Desoto will result in immediate execution. Yet, just as God said in Ecclesiastes 12:14, "For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil." The injustices brought Upon these people will not be overlooked. I will posses a repentant heart and have continuous faith in God, Hoping for the best of us sinners.

                                                                       James Phillips

Gender- female

Age- 14

Date- 1517

Tribe- The Iroquois

Name- Chooli Doli 

I am a Native American living in the Northeast, and I am part of one of the subnations in the Iroquois Confederacy. I'm a Mohawk, and I live in the village of Unadilla. We believe in the Great Spirit, and that he created human beings. It guides our lives, and we cannot communicate directly with the Great Spirit, but we say prayers while burning tobacco in order to send him messages. Our constitution gives us unity, and we call it the Gayanashagowa. My tribe, the Iroquois, have begun cultivating crops including maize, beans, and squash. Our community is a balance between an agricultural community and a hunting and gathering community- depending on the season and availability of resources. I help farm, and since we have started cultivating crops, our population has increased, and chiefdoms have started developing. Since the arrival of the Europeans, we have created a confederacy with the attempt to control violence. Our chief, Deganawida, spoke through the orator, Hiawatha, to convince the five nations to create a confederacy, and to stop the violence and fighting. Since we are united now, we have more protection against the Europeans and other Native tribes. We have a gift giving system, but the Europeans tend to take advantage of it. Most of the time we trade with the Europeans, it does not end fairly for my tribe. Also, we believe land to be free, but the Europeans view it as a commodity, so we have been forced to start viewing it the same way as the Europeans.

- Chooli Doli

Historical Foundation:

I used multiple sources to gather information to write this journal entry. One of my sources was an overview on Iroquois culture and history. Another source I used was about Iroquois beliefs, religion, and traditions. The last source I used was information on the overall Iroquois tribe; it explained what the Iroquois went through as time went on.

While students submitted narratives with varying points of emphasis, temporal and geographical settings, and vastly different characters, they each delved deeply into a particular moment in time.   This complex insight transcends the superficial understanding of history that drives many students away from the subject initially.