Sandra Rojas, Interim Academic Director
Sandra “Choqui” Rojas holds a licentiate degree in special education from the Pontifical Catholic University of Valparaíso (1989) and is pursuing a master’s degree in education with a focus on community-based education. Choqui began working with SIT as a Spanish instructor in 1993 and has been the Spanish program coordinator since 2000, developing innovative language learning approaches. She served as interim academic coordinator twice in past semesters when she led the northern Chile excursion. She also has coordinated the program’s homestay component.
In addition to her work with SIT, Choqui has taught and oriented foreign students in local Chilean universities and has conducted SIT language teacher trainings in several Latin American countries. Choqui also has worked for several years at a local NGO assisting at-risk youth and their families.
Eduardo Urzua, Academic Coordinator
Eduardo Urzua is a political scientist and consultant with experience in both Bolivia and Chile. While living in neighboring Bolivia, he hosted a widely viewed television program featuring interviews with politicians and social activists, and he is now widely known as a political commentator on Chilean radio. From 2006 to 2014, he served as academic coordinator of the SIT program Chile: Political Systems and Economic Development in Santiago
Karina Bilbao, Homestay Coordinator
After becoming the proud mother of her first child, Vicente, in August 2009, Karina Bilbao resumed the position of homestay coordinator, a position she has held since 2008. She has a degree in cultural tourism management from the University of Valparaíso (2006) and worked for several years with foreign students at the same university prior to joining SIT Study Abroad. In addition to her professional skills, Karina draws on her personal study-abroad experience, having lived and studied in Utah for two years. Karina works with each of the students and host families to ensure a rewarding homestay experience.
Vania Berríos, Spanish Program Coordinator
Vania Berrios joined SIT as a Spanish teacher in 2004 and has been the Spanish Language Coordinator for the program since 2015. With a bachelor’s degree in Hispanic literature and linguistics from the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile, she has taught international students in Chilean universities and study-abroad programs for more than decade. First teaching Spanish as a Foreign Language, in recent years she has focused on designing and teaching courses on migration and interculturality. In 2007, she moved to Germany to pursue a master´s degree in intercultural communication studies, which she completed in 2013. She encourages her study abroad students to question the construction of “identity” in a globalized world.
Juan Antonio Painecura Antinao, Educational Excursion Coordinator (Southern Chile)
Juan Antonio Painecura has coordinated SIT excursions in the Mapuche people for the past 16 years. He is a guest lecturer on Mapuche history and philosophy at Chilean universities and is the author of several articles on Mapuche history including “La Historia del Pueblo Mapuche en el Contexto del Modelo Neoliberal” (ARCIS, 2004). A longtime activist on Mapuche community development and culture survival issues, he has conducted indigenous leadership trainings in other Andean countries and is a founding member of CINPRODH, a human rights organization in Temuco. Juan Antonio also is a Mapuche retrafe (silverwork artist) and consultant to the Smithsonian and The Royal London Museum on their Mapuche silverwork art collections. He is the owner of Ruka Kimun, a Mapuche cultural training and indigenous tourism business, and holds a degree in design from the Temuco Catholic University.
Faculty and lecturers typically include:
Alejandro Olivares, Lecturer, Political Systems
Alejandro Olivares is a political scientist within the Academic Institute of Public Affairs at the University of Chile. He earned a master’s degree in political science and is a PhD candidate in social sciences at the University of Chile, where he currently serves as professor of political science.
Jorge Gajardo, Lecturer, Inequality and Environment
Jorge Gajardo is a commercial engineer at the University of Chile. He holds a master’s degree in environmental studies. He is a lecturer, researcher, and an environmental consultant. His areas of expertise are environment, public policy, and territorial development.
Miriam Olguín Tenorio, Lecturer, Chile’s Urban Squatters’ Movement
Miriam Olguín is professor of contemporary Chilean history at the University of Santiago and co-director of the NGO Educación y Comunicaciones (ECO). ECO focuses on education and social science research in low-resource communities in Santiago. Miriam holds a master’s degree in development studies from Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium and a licentiate degree in history from the University of Chile.
Juan Pablo Paredes, Lecturer, Student Movements
Juan Pablo Paredes is a sociologist and Academic Program Coordinator at the University of Concepcion. He holds a bachelor’s degree in social sciences and humanities from the University Diego Portales and a PhD in social sciences from the University of Chile. His topics of interest include democratization, civil society and citizenship, participatory democracy, social movements and sociopolitical identities, epistemology of social sciences.
Lorena Pizarro, Lecturer, Human Rights
Lorena Pizarro holds a degree in education from the University of Chile. The daughter of disappeared Waldo Pizarro and Sola Sierra, since 2003 Lorena has served as president of the Association of Relatives of the Arrested and Disappeared. She has been linked to this group since her youth and has been one of the most powerful voices demanding truth and justice.