Staff Spotlight: Lilian Trigo

Program Director, CEA Viña del Mar
Lilian has been an ESL teacher for more than 25 years and has lived most of her life in a small town called Quillota, close to Viña del Mar. Her experience abroad includes a two month program in Arizona (Ministry of Education, Chile), teaching Spanish in Indiana (Fulbright TEP Program), and leading a group of teens for a 6 week program in the UK (EIL Chile-UK). She also teaches part time at a public school in her home town, in addition to being in charge of the CEA office in Viña del Mar since 2012.

woman with her kids smiling in the city

What position do you hold at CEA? What has been your career path so far?

I am the Program Director in Viña del Mar. I am in charge of managing students’ housing arrangements, excursions and social activities, as well as being a liaison with University of Viña del Mar for any academic aspects pertaining CEA students.

My career has always been dedicated to education. Since I graduated from Pontifical Catholic University in Valparaiso, I have taught ESL in public education in my home town, which I’ve continued to do in addition to my CEA position in Viña del Mar.

With CEA I have met so many wonderful young people from different parts of the U.S. who have chosen Chile for their study abroad experience. As a director and the only CEA staff member in Chile, I have put all my efforts into helping the students and making them feel supported all the way during their program.

What about the future of the industry? How do you think study abroad and international education will change over the next 10 years?

The industry of study abroad will get stronger over the next few years. Globalization is becoming increasingly familiar, and spending four weeks or a semester abroad means more than just learning new stuff or a different language at a foreign university. It is a whole cultural exchange that requires and promotes mutual understanding and respect.

International education has got to turn into a multi-cultural education that explores the relations among global cultures. Every student in every university all over the world will need to learn about other cultures’ political and economic changes as they all get to influence the decision-making of all governments in the different regions of the globe; we are all inter-related in one way or another.

Why is language learning and cultural immersion important to you?

In 2000, thanks to a Teacher Exchange Program by Fulbright Commission, I got the opportunity to live in Indiana and teach Spanish to 8th graders at Crispus Attucks Middle School. My husband and my daughters went there with me but only I knew the language. Therefore, my family had to adapt to both a new language and a new culture; but I had my share of adaptation as well. Living in a foreign country means a lot more than merely learning the language; it is a complex process of adaptability and give-and-take from both sides.

Within a few months, my daughters learned the language at school, I got used to teaching in a public school, we all managed to live our daily lives in Indianapolis and, by the end of the year, the immersion had taught us all a great number of lessons that are still in our memories as a family.

What does your home-country's culture​ value that is taught in your program?

Chile is a rather traditional country; we value our history and roots. So, excursions are intended to learn about literature, indigenous people, wine and geography.

Also, Chile is located in South America and the history of the country is closely related to the other countries of the region, in all socio-political aspects. Therefore, in the curriculum of the programs in Viña del Mar, you will find great coverage of Latin American studies on geography, history and culture.

The Spanish courses cover not only grammar and phonetics but also the cultural aspects of the language. The semester in English focuses on Liberal Arts, Social Sciences and Business with courses including Post-dictatorship and Popular Culture, Chile or Latin American Literature and Political History, Human Rights in Latin America, Globalization and Marketing.