Panguipulli, Chile


Photographer: Pablo Izquierdo

Year of Submission: 2016 (Educators Edition) 

José Luis and Rafael teach teenagers at People Help People Pullinque Vocational High-School in Panguipulli, a city in southern Chile. The school, part of a non-profit educational foundation also called People Help People, serves students from poor rural districts around Panguipulli. The students, nearly all Mapuche – the collective name given to members of various groups of indigenous peoples who lived across southern Chile and Argentina before Europeans invaded five centuries ago – typically start at the school aged 14. Most arrive with no expectations about their future. Neither José Luis nor Rafael trained as teachers. José Luis studied mechanical engineering and Rafael forestry engineering. Both changed vocations to help end the cycle of poverty in which many people around Panguipulli find themselves locked. As well as teaching the usual academic subjects – maths, Spanish, science and so on – José Luis and Rafael also share their technical knowledge with their students, seeking to give them an edge for when they graduate and search for their first jobs.