Chile: Cultural Identity, Social Justice, and Community Development

Faculty and Staff

Victor Tricot, PhD, Academic Director

Victor Tricot, PhD, Academic Director
Dr. Tricot was born in Ireland and lived there and in England until the age of 10 when he moved to Chile. He attended school in his hometown, Valparaíso, and later studied journalism at the University of Playa Ancha, where he participated in many social and student organizations. Throughout those years, he became increasingly interested in Mapuche culture and the conflict existing in the south of Chile. After finishing his undergraduate studies in Chile, he traveled abroad and obtained a master’s degree in Latin American studies at the University of Salamanca in Spain. His focus was on Latin American politics, specifically social movements in South America. Dr. Tricot received his PhD in political science from the University of Salamanca, applying theories of social movements in order to understand the Mapuche movement in Chile and Argentina. His academic interests range from social movements to issues around political participation, formation of party systems, and political cleavages. He has lectured at conferences and seminars in Spain and in Chile and has participated in different academic projects, primarily those concerning the emergence in recent decades of indigenous peoples as political actors in Latin America.

Sandra Rojas, Assistant Academic Director 
Sandra “Choqui” Rojas holds a licentiate degree in special education from the Universidad Católica de Valparaíso (1989) and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in education with a focus on community-based education. Choqui brings a wealth of experience to the program, having worked with SIT for many years. She 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 during which time she led the Northern Chile excursion. She has also 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 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 political consultant with experience in both Bolivia and Chile. While living in neighboring Bolivia, he hosted a widely viewed television program of interviews with politicians and social activists, and he is now widely known as a political commentator on Chilean radio. He previously served as the academic coordinator of the SIT Chile: Political Systems and Economic development program in Santiago from 2006 to 2014.

Karina Bilbao, Homestay Coordinator
After becoming the proud mother of her first child, Vicente, in August 2009, Karina 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 own 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.

Pedro Alfaro, Spanish Program Coordinator
A Spanish teacher for the program since 2002, Pedro assumed the role of Spanish program coordinator in the fall of 2009. In this role, he applies his expertise in guiding the program’s staff of talented language teachers, who are all specialists in teaching Spanish as a second language at the university level. A proud native of Valparaíso, Pedro holds licentiate dual degrees in education and Hispanic literature and language from the Universidad Católica de Valparaíso where he currently teaches Spanish as a second language. In 2007, he completed a master’s degree in Hispanic philology from the Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas in Madrid where he also conducted research at the Real Academia Española de La Lengua.

Walkiria Jorquera, Community Work Program Coordinator
“Walki” joined the program last semester as the community work program coordinator. She currently works as a social worker with COTRA, a local NGO supporting at-risk families and youth in the Valparaíso area. Since 1993 she has worked professionally and as a community volunteer with a variety of community-based and nonprofit organizations that serve marginalized groups such as low-income women and street children. Walki has also been a longtime human rights activist both in Chile and Sweden where she lived after being exiled for her opposition to the Pinochet dictatorship. She holds a licentiate degree in social work from the Universidad Católica de Valparaíso and has been an ISP advisor to past SIT students.

Juan Antonio Painecura Antinao, Educational Excursion Coordinator (Southern Chile)
Mr. Painecura has coordinated SIT excursions focused on 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. Mr. Painecura 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 Universidad Católica-Temuco.

Faculty and lecturers typically include:

Camila Maturana, Lecturer on Gender Justice
Ms. Maturana holds a law degree from the University of Chile and is a specialist in the areas of human rights for women and gender justice. She currently works for the NGO Humanas, which promotes and defends the human rights of women and gender equality in Chile and throughout Latin America. Ms. Maturana is coordinator of Humanas’ parliamentary monitoring program.

Dr. Mario Garcés Durán, Lecturer on Chile’s Urban Squatters’ Movement
Dr. Garcés is a historian and professor at the University of Santiago, specializing in Chilean popular movements. He is the founder and current director of the NGO Educación y Comunicaciones (ECO). Dr. Garcés is the author of several books including Tomando su sitio. El movimiento de pobladores de Santiago, 1957 – 1970 (2002);  Historia de los derechos humanos en Chile; and  La explosión de las mayorías: Protesta nacional 1983-1984. He holds a doctorate in history from the University of Chile. 

Miriam Olguín Tenorio, Lecturer on Chile’s Urban Squatters’ Movement
Ms. Olguín is currently a professor of Chilean contemporary history at the University of Santiago and co-director of the NGO Educación y Comunicaciones (ECO). ECO works on education and social science research with low-resource communities in Santiago. She holds a master’s degree in development studies from Catholic Université Catholique de Louvain, Belgium and a licentiate degree in history from the University of Chile.

Víctor Toledo Llancaqueo, Lecturer on Indigenous Peoples
Mr. Toledo is a professor of indigenous history at the Universidad ARCIS in Santiago, Chile. Additionally, he is director of the Centro de Políticas Publicas y Derechos Indigenas in Santiago and coordinator of the International Working Group of Indigenous Movements and Democracy in Latin America; coordinator for the Latin American Council of Social Sciences (CLACSO); and a consultant to the United Nations Economic Commission on Latin America for Indigenous Rights. He holds a degree in history from the University of Chile. 

Hugo Gutiérrez, Lecturer on Human Rights
Mr. Gutiérrez holds a law degree from the Universidad de Conception. He is an expert lawyer in human rights, having actively participated in the defense of the families of the "disappeared" prisoners since 1980 and in the legal team that brought the case against Augusto Pinochet for crimes against humanity. He is an adjunct professor of law at the Universidad ARCIS in Santiago. From 1989 to 2000, Mr. Gutiérrez worked for the human rights organization CODEPU. He is a member of the American Association of Jurists. In 2009, he was elected deputy (i.e., representative) to the Chilean Congress representing the Iquique area.


Costs Dates



Credits: 16

Duration: 15 weeks

Program Base: Valparaiso

Language Study: Spanish

Prerequisites: 3 semesters Spanish Read more...

View Student Evaluations for this program:

About the Evaluations (PDF)

Fall 2013 Evaluations (PDF)
Spring 2013 Evaluations (PDF)
Fall 2012 Evaluations (PDF)


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