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Paige: You're listening to Coffee with Gringos. I'm Paige Sutherland.

Mariah: And I'm Mariah Wika. This episode is a little bit different for me because this is actually my last episode of Coffee with Gringos. 

Paige: So sad!

Mariah: I know, I know. I'm really sad about it. It's been an awesome run, but almost a year of doing this podcast, I am saying goodbye to Coffee with Gringos and to Chile and heading back to Minnesota.

Paige: I know. It's crazy, we were just talking before the recording, that we've almost had 50 episodes of CWG, which does not feel real. 

Mariah: No! It doesn't. And we've covered so many topics and spent so much time in Coffee with Gringos studios. So yeah, it feels a little bit surreal to be saying goodbye.

Paige: To think back... you've been a flight attendant, a concierge at a hotel, we've been chefs, we have talked about our very personal family lives and social lives.

Mariah: About our adventures here in Chile, about our misadventures...

Paige: Our zodiacs!

Mariah: Our zodiac signs, terrible travel stories, and by the way... if you haven't listened to some of these episodes, you know where to find them... on all streaming platforms.

Paige: And these will be very special episodes because Mariah will no longer be on the new ones.

Mariah: Exactly. So, look through the archives, that's where you'll find me.

Paige: Now that we know that you're leaving, we want to spend this time to reflect on the almost two years that you've been here. So, looking back at your time, I guess... what is your biggest takeaway of your experience living and being part of the culture here.

Mariah: Let's see... my biggest takeaway... that's a hard question. I think there are so many takeaways from a time like this because you do grow so much and learn so much about yourself in a really intense way that you might not learn if you were in your comfort zone. Moving here alone was such a huge step out of my comfort zone. I was a kid who was scared of everything, and going to college an hour and a half away was a really scary thing for me. And so moving across the world was a huge step. And I think that you learn what you're capable of and what your brain is capable of in terms of learning another language and the access that gives you to another culture. As corny as it sounds, what your heart is capable of in terms of making connections with people and really building a community. And so I think that I've just learned that if you're open and you take that risk, there's so much to be gained, both personally, professionally, intellectually... I don't know, it's been awesome.

Paige: And tough question, I know that there are probably a million things, particularly friends and family, but what are some of the things that you'll miss here about Chile?

Mariah: Ohhhh. That's hard. I mean, I have a really beautiful Chilean family here. They adopted me since my very first day. I have three beautiful Chilean nephews and wonderful siblings and a fantastic Chilean mom. I think I'll miss Sunday lunches with them and just walking around Parque Forestal and spending time with the kids. Things like that made my life here feel so normal in the most beautiful was possible because when you move somewhere by yourself... it's so scary, and it's so hard to feel like anything is normal. And I loved that. It made me feel like I was home. And I think I will miss the metro. Not at rush hour, but the metro at non-peak time. I'll miss the mountains and the ocean. In Minnesota, we don't have either. It's a beautiful place to live, but I can't be to the Andes in one hour and the pacific in an hour and a half. And that's really, really special here. And so, there's a lot that I'll miss.

Paige: Reflecting a little bit on your time here, you have really seen so much of the country. I mean, you've been all over. Are there any particular places that you'll really remember when you go back to the US?

Mariah: Oh absolutely. I mean, I think that there's just a big part of my heart that will forever be in the south of Chile. I know that a lot of Chileans also adore the south of Chile. And I can't say enough good things about it. I think that in particular... I will always remember... there's a little area called Mulchen near Santa Barbara and Los Angeles, and that's where my Chilean family has a place in the campo. And so they have this beautiful little home in the countryside, and it was the first time I went to the south of Chile with them, and I have really special memories there of the mountains and making sopaipillas in the morning and eating them for breakfast and spending time like that. So, the south of Chile for sure and also some really wonderful times on the coast.

Paige: You're going back to the US. Do you think you'll bring anything culture-wise, custom-wise, maybe even piscola-wise, food-wise? Anything that will kind of go with you when you travel back home?

Mariah: Yeah, absolutely. When I first came here, when I spent time with people, I still felt a little impatient. We've been together for four hours! When do I move on to the next thing?! When do I move on to spending time with somebody else? Am I really going to be here all day? And I think that here, I learned that when you spend time with somebody, you don't put a cap on that. You don't put a limit on that. You just... you enjoy that time, and so I think that when I go there, I just want to really approach spending time with people in more of a "sharing time' sort of way. I'm not sure if I can ever be a master of asados, but I'd love to try, and yeah, just being more intentional about spending time with my family, spending time with my friends... in non-limited ways. So, instead of grabbing a coffee for an hour, spending a whole Sunday afternoon together. Because I think that that's awesome. I wish that I could kiss everybody on the cheek once I go back as a greeting because I love that way of greeting people. Unfortunately, I don't think that's quite as possible. But yeah, and maybe making some empanadas and some of those food traditions. I'll definitely be bringing the music back. There will be cumbia and regaeton and trip in my home. I think that it will be a bit of a surprise for my family. 

Paige: I think an amazing thing about Mariah is she, y'know, was in Chicago working in marketing, decided to make not only a geographical change but a career change and came here and really fell in love with teaching. 

Mariah: Yeah, I did.

Paige: And not only is it something that she wants to do here, but when she goes back, she wants to continue that, and that's going to be here new career path back in the US. So, tell us a little bit about some of your best experiences or moments teaching here that you really felt like: "This is my passion, this is what I want to do as a career."

Mariah: Yeah. I was really overwhelmed when I first started teaching here. I wasn't sure if I was capable of it, and I had so much to learn about pedagogy and about how to teach prepositions and how to teach prepositions and how to teach conditionals and phrasal verbs and all of those things that are so confusing for students... they're hard to teach, right? Being an English speaker doesn't make you an English teacher. And so I think that I spent a lot of time teaching myself how to be a teacher, but also my students showed me how. And that was the amazing, mutual part of this experience, and that's when I realized that this is what I want to do because as I was teaching students, I was learning so much as well... whether it was about their career field, my students who worked in agriculture or pharmacy or exporting or maybe they were a merchant marine... or just an avid traveler that wanted more vocabulary for their next trip. I was learning so much from them, and I loved that. It was really exciting. It still is. And I had some really neat experiences where students... maybe they came back from a business trip, and they told me: "Mariah, I used to understand nothing, and now I understand 60%. Or, some of my favorite students have little kids, and we would get to chat after every class. When I was originally learning Spanish... now I can speak enough to communicate myself well... but in the beginning of this experience, I didn't, and their kids would give me Spanish homework. They would invent their own Spanish homework and give it to me, and I think that that speaks to the connection that teaching allows for, and that was when I realized that... this isn't just about teaching a skill or giving people tools. It's about making a real and important connection and both people learning so much from that. 

Paige: It's incredible, and I think that's why so many of us at Dynamic still do it. And so... you're back in Minnesota, you plan to continue teaching, right?

Mariah: That's the hope, yeah. I think that until I get my feet on the ground and figure out what I'm doing next, I'll be volunteering at an ESL school where immigrants and refugees in the United States learn English. And then I'll either be looking toward graduate school for education or education related jobs that I can hop into right away. So, I'll be looking towards both and seeing how the chips fall. I'm not exactly sure yet, but I'll figure it out.

Paige: I bet you will. And I know that me, at CWG, everyone at Dynamic, everyone that listens... there will be a huge void that will never be filled with you being gone. It's been incredible doing this podcast with you, and I will miss you dearly.

Mariah: Thank you. I'll definitely miss you too. And thank you to the listeners who have spent either fifteen minutes or fifteen hours listening to my voice. It's been very, very fun talking about all these topics, and I hope that you've gotten as much out of it as I have. Thanks again for listening... I won't be talking to you soon, but Paige will be. And, we hope that you'll continue to tune in to Coffee with Gringos.


It's been an awesome run (phrase) - it’s been a great experience

Head back (phrasal verb) - to return

Example: After almost two years in Chile, I’m heading back to Minnesota.

Surreal (adjective) - unreal

Example:  It feels a little bit surreal to be saying goodbye.

Archive (noun) - a collection of historical records

Example: If you ever miss me, you can find episodes with my voice in the archives!

Look back (phrasal verb) - to reflect

Example: This episode, we’ll look back on Mariah’s time in Chile.

Takeaway (noun) - a key idea or lesson that emerges from an experience

Example: What were some of your biggest takeaways from your experience in Chile?

Corny (adjective) - stereotypical or very sentimental (cursi)

Example: As corny as it sounds, I learned what your heart is capable of in terms of making connections with people and really building a community.

-wise - related to

Example: Do you think you'll bring anything culture-wise, custom-wise, maybe even piscola-wise, food-wise back to the US?

Move on (phrasal verb) - to continue

Example: Sometimes people are impatient with social events and think: When do I move on to the next thing?

A cap (noun) - a limit or end

Example: Now, I don’t like putting a cap on the time I spend with people.