Last December we had one of our students graduate from the Program. Mariana started the program in 2014 and was part of the start of the program in Montédonico. As a graduate of the program, Mariana now participates with us as a mentor at surf sessions and in classes. This past week we sat down with Mariana to talk to her about her experience with Valpo Surf Project (VSP).

Emily: Tell us a bit about your how you found the experience with VSP.
Mariana: It was fun, I liked it because it was something new for me. It was something that I just happened to stumble upon, so I was very lucky.

Emily: Do you feel like the english classes sessions have served you in some way?
Mariana: Yes, to review and remember, because there had been things I had learned in school but I had forgotten, and also I learned things that they had never taught in school.

Emily: What kinds of things did you learn in the surf sessions?

Mariana: I learned how to stand up. It took me 5 classes trying to stand up. I struggled a lot, but in the end I did it.

June Surf Sessions 2015

Emily: Were you frustrated in any moment? Or did you ever think that you didn’t want to continue?

Mariana: Sometimes I thought like this, and I thought, no I don’t want to go because I’m not going to be able to stand up. But I practiced all of the class and in the end I did it, obviously with the help of everyone else.

Emily: How did you feel when you finally stood up?
Mariana: Beautiful. I felt really good because it was something new that I struggled with a lot and in the end I succeeded. Very happy.

What significance does the sensation to stand up on a surfboard have for you?
Mariana: It’s important for me because it’s something that is very difficult to do. When you struggle with something a lot and then finally achieve to do it, you arrive at your goal.

Emily: How have you found the experience getting to know the other students of VSP from other parts of Valparaíso?
Mariana: In the beginning it was very hard for me to adapt to everything. It was very different, and everyone else had a lot of energy, and I didn’t. But every time I went I was more motivated. There was always a Tía or Tío that helped me. I could also help the smaller kids, but now it’s “strange” because they call me Tía.

Mariana (far left) with the Montédonico group in 2014.

Emily: Have you noted that there are any differences in yourself or things that you learned in VSP that apply to you in other aspects of life?
Mariana: Before it was very hard for me to talk to people, I don’t know how, but the classes helped me to have more personality. In the beginning it was strange the change from being a student in the program and now being an alumni and a volunteer. Now, I feel more comfortable saying things to everyone else. Also it’s helped me because I never thought that I would be a Tía and it’s really great.

Now I am studying a technical degree in nutrition at DUOC, and after I would like to continue in the same major as a professional degree in university. Of course, I want to continue helping out here in classes.