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Melvin J. Perdomo Vandessppooll - Universidad Tecnológica de Chile (INACAP), Santiago, Chile, 2009

School: José A. (Tony) Santana International School of Hospitality and Culinary Arts
Major:  Culinary Management
Program Type:  Short-Term Faculty-Led

"In April 2008, I was one of four students chosen by faculty members of the UNE José A. (Tony) Santana International School of Hospitality and Culinary Arts to participate in a student exchange experience in Chile. UNE coordinated the program in an effort to promote cultural exchange and to establish an collaborative agreement with the Universidad Tecnológica de Chile (INACAP). It all started when I saw a flyer in one of the campus billboards. The flyer stated that there was a competition for students interested in going to Chile. An essay should be submitted on how internationalization contributed to students of the Hospitality industry. I did not hesitate to write the essay and participate.

A couple weeks after that, a professor called me for an interview with a committee. That same day they sent me an email with a letter that said they had chosen me! During the amazing week I spend in Chile, I traveled to the cities of Santiago, Valparaíso and Concepción. I never imagined that I would ever be in any of those places and when I was there I had to use the “pinch me” technique to do a reality check!

While in Chile, I participated with my classmates in group tours around the cities we visited and learned about Chilean culture and history. A lot of the tours were given by the INACAP students! Naturally, I became really good friends with the students of INACAP and I still keep in touch with them to this day. In addition, I had the opportunity to try all kinds of delicious Chilean dishes and learned how to incorporate some of their cooking techniques into Puerto Rican cooking. After all, the program’s purpose was to strengthen the curriculum of Culinary Arts and establish links between UNE and INACAP. On my way back to Puerto Rico, I could not wait to get home to share my experiences with all my family and friends. I knew then that I would plan to set out on a second journey abroad as an exchange student, only, this time, it definitely needed be for a far longer time!"

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