The Collegian
Tuesday, December 01, 2020

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Students in Chile react to miner rescue

Thirty-three miners in Copiapo, Chile were trapped in the San Jose mine 2,297 feet underground for 69 days after the mine collapsed on Aug. 5.

On Oct. 13, the miners climbed one by one into a specially designed steel capsule, barely wider than a man's shoulders and took a 15-minute journey to the surface.

University of Richmond sophomore Jordan Furtado, an international studies, world politics and diplomacy major and Latin American and Iberian studies minor, has been studying abroad in Santiago, Chile, since June.

Furtado said the mining rescue had dominated the news there.

"It was practically all I ever saw on any television," he said. "They covered just about everything from the miners' situation and condition in the mine to their home lives."

Furtado said when the incident occurred, many people were very concerned.

"The majority of the population was pretty worried and interested in what was going on," he said.

He said prayer sessions had been held at his school and many students attended. It showed him that Chilean pride and nationalism was very strong, he said.

Lela Serrano, now in her third year of studying civil engineering, studied at Richmond during the spring of 2010. She was at home in Santiago when the miners were trapped. Serrano said everyone around her had been worried and horrified and had thought the miners were dead.

"Like almost everyone, I was really worried and I followed the news," she said. "It was really great when they found that the miners were alive. It was crazy."

Junior Alexandra Purdy, a double major in international studies with a concentration in Latin America and geography, is also studying abroad for the semester in Santiago and has been there since July.

She said the day the miners were discovered alive there was a lot of excitement, but it was nothing like the two days of the rescue. She said televisions were on everywhere she went showing live coverage.

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"When the last miner was rescued, all cars on the roads started honking their horns," Purdy said. "In the center of the city near Baquedano, many people were out celebrating."

It was a very exciting time to be in Chile, Purdy said.

"A lot of national pride was evoked from this event and they were proud of how their country responded," she said. "The cheer 'chi chi chi le le le, viva Chile' was heard wherever you went."

Serrano said: "It was a very powerful experience for all Chileans. All of us feel really proud of our workers, the miners and the people who rescued them."

Contact reporter Sarah Craig at sarah.craig@richmond.edu

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