Chilean student enlightens Rotarians



April 21, 2017 - 12:00 AM

Francisco Foschino gave Iola Rotarians an informative and witty presentation about his home country, Chile, Thursday.
Foschino, an exchange student, is a senior at Iola High School.
Chile, he explained, is a sliver of a country along the Pacific coast of South America, although the southern tip, where he lives in Punta Arenas, also has contact with the Atlantic.
“Chile is 2,653 miles long and averages 110 miles east to west,” Foschino said. The population is about 17 million. The country has a government much like that of the United States, with executive, legislative and judiciary branches. Its president, Michelle Bachelet, is the first woman to hold the high office.
“My home is 6,530 miles from Kansas,” a 14-hour plane trip, Foschino said, “but I don’t know how long that would be by car,” which elicited one of several rounds of laughter.
Foschino was familiar with Iolans Fred and Judy Works and Bob Hawk before coming to Iola. Hawk has helped with Rotary eyeglasses projects in Chile several times. The Workses vacationed at the southern tip of the country, where Fred suffered a severe leg fracture in 2014 that took well over a year to heal.
Foschino, whose father is a high-profile Rotary member, helped the Workses during their ordeal.
“Our Rotary club started in 1927,” Foschino said. The city, with population of nearly 125,000, was founded in 1848.
The southern part of Chile is a tourist attraction, for its picturesque mountains and trails that lead to high elevations. “It also is cold,” he said. “How cold?” someone asked. After a little thought, Foschino replied, “Very cold.”
Before the Panama Canal opened in 1914, Punta Arenas was an important stop on the Straits of Magellan, an inland route between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. It has dangers, but was safer than the open-sea Drake Passage between the coast of South America and Antarctica.