Today was my first day volunteering at a psyciatric hospital, something I will be doing weekly. Unfortunetly I did not start when the other La Catolica students did a few weeks ago (I was given the assignment later as I am an internal student and had different paperwork) but thanks to the custom of kissing everyone as soon as you enter a room regardless of whether or not you know them, the distance felt minimal. One of the many great things about doing volunteer work through La Catolica is that I get to meet students who are commited to social justice, I really enjoyed the company of the students in my group. Today there were four of us, two women and two men. The activity for the day with our group of 10 at the hospital (which is really more like a group home) was to decorate the common room for Independence Day (September 18th). It was truly a wonderful experience working with the people at the home and seeing their smiles and their pride in their country. A woman called me tia which really knew me off guard. Here Tia is used as a term of respect for someone who is older than you. After our visit I had a converstaion with one of the other students about this and he told me that they look up to us and so we have to take it upon ourselves to make sure they knew we see them as equals. The students I worked with told me that have worked with two Americans in the past both of who were Californian. I was very proud that other Californians had taken the initiative to volunteer while here. Back at the home, I taught one of the other students how to hang streamers and spent awhile doing that. Once everyone was done there were paintings of Chilean flags, kite cutouts, balloons, and streamers all over the room. Almost everything was red, white, and blue-the colors of the Chilean flag. Something about the fact that decorations for Chilean independence day look very similar to ones for American independence day (due to the colors) intrigues me. I am very excited for September 18th and all of the festivities surrounding it. This weekend my study abroad group is having an asado (BBQ) to kick off independence day celebrations and learn cuecha, one of the national Chilean dances. The place it is going to be at sounds beautiful and as it is a potuck, I am very excited to bring dessert. My friends Katie, Brita, and I will be baking almond brownies, white chocolate lemon blondies, and sugar cookie bars (as you can see I`ve adapted to only have a rectangular baking pan haha). For my volunteering next Monday I am going to bring carmel brownies. I am greatly looking forward to a weekend of pre-independence day celebrations and baking :).