red thread

“An invisible red thread connects those who are destined to meet, regardless of time, place, or circumstance. The thread may stretch or tangle, but will never break.” –An ancient Chinese belief

I heard this on the radio this morning and was instantly captivated, not only by the paradox of its simultaneous powerful tangibility and impossible intangibility, but of the staggering way it hit me when I heard it, like I suddenly could sense all these tiny red strings winding out around me into the world. The red thread doesn’t just refer to the person we marry, or our own children, but to every person we meet in our life, to the people whose lives bump into ours, mix with ours, become part of ours. The red threads don’t wind their way around our ankles as we walk, don’t catch on us as we brush past things—the Chinese believe that they emanate from us from birth, from the moment we enter the world. As we age, with each passing year, the threads grow tighter, bringing us close to the people whose lives are destined to intertwine with ours in some way.

I remember sitting at the dinner table when I was younger—it may not even have actually been the dinner table, but my mind will always set conversations with my family there whether it is accurate or not—and listening to my mother tell stories about my father’s childhood as if she had been there, as if she had climbed up into the tree house in his backyard with her own two legs, as if she had been part of conversations with his brothers. However old I was I would always sit there, half listening, and imagine my two parents as children, thousands of miles away from each other, living their separate childhoods, completely and totally unbeknownst to each other. And then I thought about sitting at another dinner table some day, my dinner table, and telling a childhood story about someone who I did not yet know, someone who, perhaps at that very moment, was climbing into his tree house or talking to his brothers, or doing whatever thing would soon shift from an actual event and congeal into a dinnertime story told by someone else. Even though they didn’t know each other then, there was a red thread connecting the little girl cleaning her garage in New Jersey and the little boy goofing around in the neighborhood in Chicago. They couldn’t have seen the other end then, but it was there, off in the glimmering distance.

It’s fascinating to think about the billions of people standing on the world with tiny little threads spinning out from their souls and tying them to each other, millions of tangling red webs crossing over and under and winding around each other. Thinking about it gives me the same feeling I get when I hear a stranger on the train or the sidewalk saying “I love to” into the phone, to some unseen person who means so much to them, some person I’ve never met and will likely never see, but I’ve caught this moment, this infinitesimal glimpse of the red thread that ties them together.

There are some threads we can see in front of us, some that are so tightly bound and thick by now that contemplating their existence is hardly a mind-bending exercise. The crimson binds that tie us to our parents, to our siblings, to our grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins. There are others, nearly as bright, that connect us to our closest friends, to the people who can see all the way through and into us, to the people who have influenced our thoughts and actions and feelings. But seeing these does not require imagination or faith.

It is the translucent threads, the gauzy, thin ones that wind into mist, into fog, into unseen places, that are the most difficult and yet the most incredible to comprehend. The red threads that have been there since birth, the red threads that billow out constantly, to people whose faces we don’t know, whose voices we wouldn’t recognize, whose names would be just a set of letters arranged in a particular order. To the people we haven’t met yet, to the people whose paths we have not yet crossed, but who exist and have been existing apart from us, unknown to us, souls tied ever so delicately to ours. Maybe the threads eventually become one, maybe they travel together for a while and then spin off in opposite directions, or maybe they only slightly glance off each other at an unseen point in the future. But they are there, out there, getting closer and tighter, every second.

How much easier it feels to fling ourselves out into the unknown, into a new place or stage of our lives, knowing those red threads are there, winding out into the future as they always have been, holding onto souls that will be waiting to catch us, teach us, touch us, change us.

part 3

Since the call from Sebastien Lemaire earlier in the day, the president had run a few miles on the treadmill to maintain his figure, made a few more phone calls about the vineyards in Valle del Elqui, eaten a generous lunch, taken a nap, and played with his dogs. Not once had he left La Moneda or even looked out the window to see the masses of young people streaming toward the Plaza de Armas. And not just local students either—Camilo had seen on the news on the television in the kitchen that there were reports of hundreds of students coming in from Los Andes, San Pedro, and other surrounding areas. And even though by now every major television channel in the country was broadcasting live coverage of the scene in the plaza de Armas, the president still didn’t seem to be paying attention.

“What do they want me to do?” he said on the phone to one of his advisors while Camilo stood silently in the background. “I spent weeks working on GANE to appease them. But they’re still not happy. They’re petulant children who are never going to be happy until we give them everything for free. And that’s not good business.”

He hung up the phone, rubbing his forehead and squeezing his eyes shut in exasperation.

“Camilo,” the president said to him, turning to look at him for the first time all day, “I have a very important meeting with the minister of education now and it is of the utmost importance that we are not disturbed. We will be speaking in the breakfast room so to assure that we will not be overheard, but I need you to patrol the corridor to make absolutely sure there is no one on the floor. Do we understand each other?”

Camilo nodded. The president always phrased things like this, “Do we understand each other?” despite the fact that any understanding was only ever one-sided.

When the president and the minister of education were locked safely behind the door, Camilo began to pace up and down the hallway, rhythmically and absentmindedly, his thoughts straying into the breakfast room and out onto the Plaza de Armas.  He was in his mid-forties but still a formidable man to behold—tall for a Chilean and still retaining the heft of his younger years. He had been hired for his sheer size and military training, but he was not just a piece of meat guarding a door—he thought about things, about lots of things, about the things that even the president didn’t want to think about. The demonstrations had been largely peaceful so far, with little need for actual police intervention. The president’s unwillingness to compromise had not been dissented with violence, and the president had not grown so enraged at the disobedience of the nation’s youth that he had felt the need to take extreme measures to quell them—but Camilo felt like it was only a matter of time. Already the colectivo[1] drivers and many of the unionized workers had followed the students’ lead and were going on strike. If neither side would budge, if no one was going to give in—people were not going to stay peaceful forever.  They would turn to more radical methods, more upheaval would ensue. And once that had begun it would send the country into a kind of anarchy he knew nobody was ready for. Camilo had been born into a Chile colored by the ruthlessness of Pinochet, and though he had been only 8 during the golpe[2] of 1973, he remembered enough to be worried.

“…last straw,” he heard the minister of education say through the door.

“…no other choice…”

Camilo wondered to himself if this might signal the president’s final consenting to change the education policy. Perhaps it really had gone on long enough. He lingered in front of the door, hoping to hear more. He could tell by the muffled volume that the two men were discussing things at the table in the corner of the room, away from the door and away from the window.

“…up in the tower of the cathedral..”

“…red hat…”

“I’m confident…won’t miss.”

And with stunning realization, Camilo understood. At that moment the lock of the door clicked open and the president and the minister of education walked out into the hallway just as Camilo was trying to nonchalantly distance himself from the door.

Camilo watched as the two men shook hands and the minister of education took off at a brisk walk down the corridor toward the elevator.

“Camilo?” the president asked, not taking his eyes of his phone. “Can you bring up my dinner from the kitchen, please? And make sure the meat is cooked properly this time. It was barely edible last night.”

Camilo wordlessly moved to the staircase and began descending the stairs rapidly, his mind racing. There were some things that went beyond money, that went beyond his job, that went beyond remaining silent. There was a young life at stake and no matter what it would mean for his job he was not going to be invisible this time. As he jumped down stairs two at a time, he quickly dialed his wife. After several rings it went straight to voicemail, and struggling to keep an even breath, Camilo left her a message.

“Mi vida, I can’t explain everything right now but I have just overheard the president planning to assassinate Sofia Vallejo. I’m going to try to warn non-military police and stop if I can. I will do my best to save her and try to keep myself safe. Te amo demasiado, negra. Tell Javi, Benja and Paloma I love them too. Cuídate.”

***

In the Plaza de Armas built-up energy was beginning to buzz through the crowd, an almost invisible electricity crackling between bodies. Paloma had watched from her perch on Matias’ shoulders as Sofia Vallejo gave the crowd a rousing speech reiterating their purpose, encouraging students of all ages to stay strong and remain on strike, and serving up some choice words for GANE.

“And so tonight we would like to continue to peacefully protest the current system and the president’s proposal in a new way, a way that will demonstrate our passion for education.” Sofia Vallejo emphasized the word “passion” and gave an uncharacteristic giggle afterwards, looking over at Emiliano Contreras. “Tonight, we protest with a kiss.” She stepped toward Emiliano and began kissing him, holding his face with one hand and waving the other in an upward motion at the crowd to incite their participation. Cheers and whoops erupted throughout the plaza as people began reaching for each other.

Paloma watched as Sofia took Emiliano’s hand and descended the steps of the cathedral into the crowd, until soon all that could be seen of her was her red knit hat, bobbing through the sea of brown and black hair.

Paloma felt Matias bending down to let her off his shoulders, and she realized with a pang of dismay that this was the moment when he would set her down and reach for Valentina in order to share his passion for education. Her feet hit the cobblestone below and she shuffled off his shoulders awkwardly, stumbling backwards a bit before he reached out his hand to steady her. Somehow, though, back on the ground after being in the air, Paloma’s skin was still tingling, her stomach still filled with butterflies— the electricity of being up above the crowd was impossible to shake.

She could see Valentina out of the corner of her eye, edging her way toward Matias. But then Paloma felt him pulling her chin up toward him so that their faces were nearly touching. With a goofy smile that seemed to herald a comment of the same nature, Matias touched his forehead to Paloma’s, whose pulse skyrocketed.

“You know what? I’m very, very passionate about education.” They laughed into each other, and it didn’t just feel like one kiss, but a thousand kisses, the kisses of the entire city concentrated into theirs.

Camilo erupted through a service entrance of La Moneda, sprinting as hard as his legs could carry him the few blocks to the Plaza de Armas. He was in good shape for his age, but the cold air scratched his lungs and the urgency seemed to make his whole body go weak, causing him to wheeze for breath. As he got closer the crowd began to thicken, and his progress slowed. He searched for a municipal police officer, but all of the guards around the plaza seemed to be outfitted in military uniform. Camilo could hardly breathe, his eyes darting around desperately. He felt helpless.

Paloma shivered, from the advancing chill of the evening, or the thrill of kissing, or perhaps both. Matias noticed, pulling back from her momentarily.

“Are you cold? Here, take this,” he said, reaching into his pocket and pulling out a red knit hat.


[1] kind of shared taxi

[2] coup

part 2

“It’s going to take us three hours to get into the city at this rate,” Matias groaned, tapping the steering wheel in agitation. Even at noon, the road from Los Andes, the small city cradled into the mountains where they lived, to Santiago was choked with micros[1] and Peugeot vans and pick-up trucks.

Paloma sat in the backseat quietly, trying to hide a smile. Secretly she wouldn’t have minded if it took them three days, as long as she could sit this close to him.  There were seven of them crammed into Matias’ truck, and one of Paloma’s legs had begun to go numb. Matias was the leader of the group—he was the one who had practically convinced their entire high school to go on strike in late May around the time all the college students had first refused to attend classes. Paloma had never been one for activism, being generally too shy and soft-spoken, but this issue was one that hit particularly close to home. Nearly every high school in the country was private, and even the ones that weren’t still required an expensive uniform. Paloma lived with her parents, two younger brothers, grandparents, aunt and uncle and the money coming in was never steady or definite. Paloma’s father worked a low-paying government job in Santiago, a two-hour commute by bus each day, but it was not enough to support the family. After the current president had been elected, her father’s salary had been slashed and so her mother and aunt had started working long hours selling avocados, tomatoes and olives in the feria[2].  They had enough to afford high school for her and her brothers, but Paloma knew that university would be out of the question. If there was anything she could do for the chance to go to keep studying without putting so much pressure on her mother, she would do it.

“We should have just flown. We’d have been there twenty minutes ago,” said Valentina, a loud-mouthed, longhaired girl who was currently sitting in the passenger’s seat with her feet up on the dash. Paloma rolled her eyes in the backseat. It was technically possible to fly from Los Andes to Santiago, but you had to take a private plane and the flight took about fifteen minutes. It was typical for Valentina to present something so blatantly excessive and outrageous as a legitimate option. Paloma watched her for a moment. She always looked impeccable, with the right makeup and the right clothes and the right cell phone, her hair always falling perfectly to her waist and gleaming in the sun. Paloma always seemed to find herself in the backseat, just out of reach, while girls like Valentina never seemed to have a problem getting exactly what they wanted.  Valentina was not the kind of girl that actually needed the education reform to pass— God knows she could afford the tuition—but being on strike was way too cool to pass up.

“Are you crazy?” Matias asked, looking at Valentina with disbelief. Valentina shrugged, and Paloma smiled to herself, glad she and Matias agreed.

She rolled down the window to let in some cool July air, squirming slightly against the closeness of the four other students in the backseat. Despite their entire school being on strike, only a handful of people had been dedicated enough to make the journey into Santiago for the protest that day. While in any other situation Paloma would not have been part of that handful, Matias was the game changer. She looked out the window at the jagged mountains poking up into the blue sky and wondered with heart-wrenching agony if he even remembered her name.

It was past three o’clock by the time Matias pulled off the highway at the Santiago exit, and it took another forty-five minutes to find parking. By that point Paloma was so stiff she wasn’t even sure she’d be able to stand when they got out of the car. Others in the backseat had fallen asleep, but Paloma’s stomach was fizzy with excitement. She’d never done anything remotely like this, nothing that required standing up, declaring something so publicly and openly. She wasn’t even exactly sure what one did at a protest. Chant? March around?  It didn’t really matter what they did specifically, Paloma just couldn’t wait to be in it, in the middle of everything going on, doing something.

The only parking spot they could find was almost ten blocks away from the Plaza de Armas, and the foot traffic heading toward the center of the city was nearly as bad as the traffic on the highway from Los Andes. Staying together in the group was nearly impossible, but they tried to hold onto each other so they wouldn’t lose themselves in the crowd.

Paloma was slightly behind the rest of them, keeping her eye on Matias’ shaggy black hair in front of her. Valentina walked beside him, chattering away noisily about the president and the CONFECH and sounding irritatingly informed and eloquent. Paloma groaned inwardly. How was she supposed to have a chance against someone like Valentina? As they reached a street where they needed to turn, Matias twisted around to look at her.

“Here, hold onto my backpack. Don’t want you to get lost, Paloma,” he said with a smile.

The fizziness she had felt before seemed to spread out of her stomach and into her entire body as she reached a hand out to grasp one of the straps on Matias’ backpack.

She mumbled thanks under her breath, blushing. Valentina looked annoyed and attempted to continue the conversation where she had left off. “Anyway, as I was saying…”

But Paloma was too giddy to hear the rest. She held on tight to Matias’ backpack as they waded gradually forward in the crowd, listening to the hum of the people all around her, moving together in a tight mass, with the same intent, toward the same destination.

“I can see it! The plaza’s right up ahead!” Matias shouted a little while later. The closest entrance to them, the street that passed between the Correo Nacional and the Catedral de Santiago[3] had been barricaded by the police and was for the time being impassable. Matias had led them around the corner behind the cathedral in order to access the plaza by the southwest corner, which didn’t seem to be blocked.

The seven of them huddled together in the corner, surrounded by thousands of other university and high school students, who still seemed to be fairly unorganized. The official protest wasn’t supposed to start until five thirty, and it was only four o’clock. Sofia Vallejo and Emiliano Contreras would be making an announcement as to the nature of the demonstration, which was rumored to be a little different than a standard march or sit-in.

“Look! There she is! It’s Sofia Vallejo!” Valentina cried, pointing toward the steps of the cathedral. Valentina, at a lofty 5’8” and wearing expensive boots with a considerable heel seemed to be able to see perfectly. Paloma, on the other hand, at 5’3” in sneakers, could see nothing. She tried standing up on her toes to catch a glimpse, but it was useless. There were too many people in front of her, taller people, blocking her view. She swore under her breath, exasperated that she had come all this way and gotten so close only to yet again be just out of reach due to something that was largely out of her control.

Matias turned to look at her as she was attempting to jump up for a split-second view of Sofia Vallejo. He laughed at her kindly, his brown eyes soft.

“Here, get up on my shoulders,” he offered. “Just because you’re short doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get to be a part of this.”

Paloma was so surprised it took her a few moments to regain motor function when Matias bent down in front of her so she could get up on his shoulders. With Valentina looking on in disgust and indignation, Paloma placed her hand on Matias’ head and swung her legs over his shoulders, gripping tightly as he stood upright. Suddenly she was thrust up into the air, higher than almost anyone in the crowd except for a few others on someone’s shoulders. Everything looked different from up here, from this perspective. She could see everything, the whole plaza and everyone in it. Paloma had been to Santiago numerous times, but it felt different now somehow.  There seemed to be some sort of enchantment hanging over the city, as if swarms of butterflies filling the air or rose petals falling from the sky like fat pink snowflakes wouldn’t have been at all out of the ordinary. From up here Paloma felt like she could wrap her arms around the entire crowd, like everything was in her grasp. And there she was—Sofia Vallejo, standing next to Emiliano Contreras up on the steps of the cathedral, looking radiant and determined. From up here Paloma felt like she could be standing right next to her, like if she wanted to she could become the next president of the CONFECH, or whatever she wanted. She felt her eyes sting with tears, felt adrenaline pumping up through her legs, felt her chest constrict with loss of breath, felt the power of the space all around her. She never wanted to come down.

“How’s the view from up there?” Matias asked, craning his neck up to look at her, holding tightly to her legs.

“I can see everything!” Paloma replied, grinning through damp eyes. “It’s so beautiful it makes you dizzy.”


[1] buses

[2] non-permanent outdoor markets that sell food, clothing, etc.

[3] Cathedral of Santiago

stranger than fiction

As my advanced fiction class comes to a close this week, I decided to share with you all one of the short stories I wrote for my final portfolio– a foray into the world of fiction that is slightly out of character for this blog. I got the idea for the story from the student protests that were taking place while I was in Chile this summer, as those of you who followed chilllinchile.tumblr.com might remember. While much of the story is based off of actual events/issues (the july 6, 2011 kiss-in protest, President Piñera’s GANE reform), the story’s main events and characters were entirely invented by me.  I’m going to split it up into several episodes over the next few days so it’s not such a long entry to read at once. Here is part 1, enjoy!

Chilean Winter 

At six o’clock in the evening on the sixth of July, the students’ jaws’ ached and their lips had begun to chap. Some couples had paused to hug or stand close to each other, but thousands of others continued kissing. There was hardly any open space between joined lips and intertwined bodies in the entire Plaza de Armas as the late evening light grew softer, getting caught in the palm trees and not quite reaching the cobblestone below. Stationed all around the perimeter were police officers fully outfitted in dark green uniforms and polished leather knee-high boots, their eyes darting around the plaza and their hands never leaving their guns. But there seemed to be little need for them. Among the crowd, no sudden movements were made, only the rhythmic pulsing of what felt like one long shared kiss.

In the southwest corner of the plaza, nearly on the outskirts of the crowd, Paloma  fiddled nervously with frayed ends of her sleeves while Matias took a few large gulps of water from the bottle he had strapped to his backpack. It was surreal to watch what was going on around them, but it was nothing compared to what it had felt like to finally run her fingers through Matias’ wavy black hair and pull him close to her. He had paused for a drink of water and Paloma worried that the powerful, passionate enchantment that seemed to be resting over the entire city had been broken for them.

Matias finished drinking and cupped his hands around Paloma’s face, smoothing the worry in her cheeks out with his thumb.

“I think it’s really working,” he said. “All of it. I think we might actually be able to do this.” His face seemed to be lit from within, his cheeks rosy and his eyes brighter than usual. Paloma thought of her mother at home, of her brothers, scarcely daring to hope. Her eyes darted around to the police officers nearby, wanting to believe him.

“Besides,” he said, touching his forehead to hers, pulling her attention from the police and back to him, “How else would I have gotten you to kiss me?” And as Matias kissed her then, though the sun had already fallen low behind the Correo Nacional[1], Paloma felt as though the entire plaza were draped in warm, creamy mid-day sun.

A few blocks away at La Moneda[2], Camilo Catalan Madrigal, a member of the president’s personal guard, stood outside a locked door, trying to catch any snippets of conversation going on inside.

“There’s nothing that we can do,” he heard the president say. “They’re not breaking any laws. They’re not destroying anything.”

“This has gone on long enough,” said another voice. “We keep proposing reforms and they keep rejecting them.”

The voices lowered and Camilo leaned his head closer to the door, trying to make out any words but was unable to. The president had ordered him to stand outside the door to prevent anyone from entering until he and the minister of education had finished talking. And though Camilo spent more time with the president on a daily basis than perhaps even the first lady, he was only privy to the information he was able to overhear.

At approximately twenty-three minutes past six, the sunlight began to fade from the plaza altogether. The shadows that had grown long in the advancing twilight now disappeared entirely, replaced by a gentle darkness that covered everything. The temperature had dropped several degrees since the masses had arrived at the Plaza de Armas, and couples pulled closer to each other to take advantage of the body heat. The plaza was almost eerily quiet—people kissed instead of talking, and the policemen lining the outskirts of the crowd looked on in silence.

The shot that rang out then seemed to reverberate endlessly throughout the square, echoing in the ears of everyone within several blocks. Somewhere in the crowd, people had begun to scream, and a small circle formed around a lanky young man clutching a girl with long wavy hair wearing a red knit hat. Blood was dripping from her head, already matting down her silky hair and soaking into her coat. She was dead before most of the crowd realized what had happened.

***

The president of Chile woke each morning at six and watched the news while drinking his morning tea. He liked goat’s cheese on his bread, not the bland yellow kind that most people ate for breakfast. He was partial to the goat cheese that was produced in the north, up near Andacollo, and so it was flown in each week for him. He took his breakfast in a room on the top floor of La Moneda, and afterwards would occasionally step out onto the balcony that overlooked the Plaza Los Heroes, staring at the streets from above, the people below mere pinpricks in his vision. Camilo knew all of this because he had been on the president’s service since he’d taken office and was well accustomed to his routines. The president was a man with very certain tastes that tended toward the expensive, the rare, the luxurious. Prior to election he had been, after all, an extremely successful businessman.

On the morning of July 6, Camilo stood several feet behind the president’s chair and watched the news over his shoulder. On TVN, Chile’s national television station, a few stories about the unusually strong rains in the north and footage from the funeral of an actress’s child preceded a breaking news bulletin about a student protest planned for later in the day. It was rumored to be peaceful, but the newscasters didn’t seem to have the details. A journalist on the street was interviewing Sofia Vallejo, the female president of the Confederation of Chilean Student Federations. Behind her was a sign that read “MR. PRESIDENT—STUDENTS ARE NOT COINS.”  Sofia was not only well spoken and a charismatic leader, but also happened to be exceptionally beautiful, with wavy brown hair tucked under a red knit hat, almond-shaped hazel eyes and a silver nose ring that gave her just the edge she needed to be taken seriously as a leftist student leader.

“What are the CONFECH’s thoughts on the reform proposed by the president yesterday?” the reporter asked Sofia and her co-president Emiliano Contreras, the student representative from the Universidad Católica de Chile. The president had proposed a revised education plan entitled GANE[3][4]the day before, but it was not at all what the students had been asking for. Thinking about things from a purely financial standpoint had seemed to be the president’s predilection from the beginning, and this new policy was no different.

Camilo had always felt a little badly for Emiliano—he was given far less credit and attention than Sofia was in the media, and to add insult to injury, he was just slightly shorter than she was.

“What we are asking for is equal access to education for all Chileans who seek it out, regardless of their socioeconomic standing. Basing admission to universities is based on money over merit will have a gravely detrimental effect on the future of this nation. Access to education should be a right, not a privilege.”

Emiliano nodded in agreement. “If the government supported public universities in a more substantial way, they wouldn’t need to rely on tuition as their primary source of funding. Annual costs could be lowered, allowing students that previously couldn’t afford it to access higher education and better themselves as citizens of Chile.”

“The negative effects of leaving the system as is are more serious than the government is willing to realize,” Sofia continued, “Our generation is the future of this country, and if thousands of qualified students are unable to receive the education they deserve solely based on financial issues, what will that mean for Chile twenty years from now? We will not stop until the future of our country is secured—until the system is changed.”

Camilo couldn’t help but agree with the two of them—though by the nature of his position he was not allowed to say so. He had three kids in school and money was extremely tight—education reform and reduced tuition would have been an incredible stroke of good fortune for him and his family.

Sofia, Emiliano and the students began chanting on screen, loudly enough that the president finally took notice of the news program.

“For the love of God, not again,” he muttered, his head in his hands. “I have too much to deal with right now without a bunch of bratty adolescents throwing tantrums all over the city.”

Camilo had found over the years that the more he pretended to be invisible, the more the president would say around him, seeming to forget that he was not alone in the room.  At that moment the president’s secretary entered, holding her hand to cover a cell phone.

“Mr. President? It’s Sebastien Lemaire on the phone. He wants to talk about the inauguration of his company’s vineyard in Valle del Elqui next week.”

The president turned away from the television to take the phone. He seemed to have perked up considerably.


[1] Historical national post office

[2] Home of the president (Chilean “White House”)

[3] Great National Agreement of Education (acronym gah-nay means “WIN” in Spanish)