It’s been eight years since Claudio Felipe Jaque Pino has been back to Chile, but he still prides himself on being a member of his home country.
“Every Chilean’s really proud,” says Jaque Pino. Though he clearly has many interests, Jaque Pino lights up in a different way when talking about his memories from Chile. Still, Jaque Pino hopes to stay in the United States after graduating from St. Thomas next spring.
Jaque Pino moved to Burnsville in 2001 with his family when his mechanical engineer father got a new job.
“I didn’t know any English when I came, so it was kind of hard to communicate with people,” Jaque Pino said of his first experiences in the United States. He was enrolled in an English as a Second Language program at Burnsville High School, where his grades were so good that an acquaintance from his church encouraged the administration of Cretin Derham Hall to offer Jaque Pino (as well as his younger brother, Alonso, who now attends MCTC) a scholarship.
At Cretin, Jaque Pino busied himself with getting to know people and his studies, but now the 22-year-old junior is involved with more extra-curricular activities than it seems he could possibly have time for.
The one that seems to occupy the majority of Jaque Pino’s time not spent on studies is the Globally Minded Student Association. He became involved with GMSA as the club’s meeting coordinator during his freshman year at St. Thomas. He served a stint as president of the club during his sophomore year but has handed off a little responsibility this year while he serves as GMSA’s vice president.
“Our mission is to broaden international awareness in our community,” Jaque Pino said. “When I first got involved with GMSA it was more composed of international students than anything else … but a lot of people are going to study abroad. They are going to be international students wherever they go. I really wanted to get American students involved.”
Now, Jaque Pino estimates that GMSA has around 50 members, about half of whom he says are students from inside the United States. Every other Thursday during convo hour the group meets in OEC 229 to participate in a presentation about one of the many home countries of its members. The presentations range from PowerPoint to videos to music and food, and allow group members to talk about issues happening all over the world.
“We try to create more diversity and show that diversity is not just color-based or cultural,” Jaque Pino said. “I think our club has a lot going on to show that.” (For more information about GMSA, e-mail email@example.com.)
In addition to his work with GMSA, the finance major, minoring in Catholic studies, was a freshman orientation leader last summer and currently volunteers as an international student ambassador for international recruiting at St. Thomas. Living on campus for the first time, Jaque Pino is now also serving as an apartment coordinator in Selby Hall. While he misses living with his family, Jaque Pino admits that “it’s a nice feeling to be independent.”
Yet his family aren’t the only ones Jaque Pino misses.
“I really miss the people in Chile, like how warm they are,” said Jaque Pino. “We’re not worried as much about time – like, ‘time as money’ – like here. We like to have fun a lot. We like to party. We relax.”
Jaque Pino tries to keep in touch with old friends from Chile as much as possible, but he hasn’t had the opportunity to return since moving to Minnesota because of the cost and visa issues. (Student visas serve only as temporary allowance to stay in the United States.)
“You have to prove that you will go back to Chile at some point (after leaving the country on a temporary visa)] and since my parents are here I can’t prove that, so if I go to visit I might not get back here!” he worries.
“My whole family’s here,” said Jaque Pino. “If I go back to live in Chile, it’s because I had to, not because I wanted to.”