Posted on Sep 25, 2017
Sam Brady introduced Juan, our 2017/2018 Rotary Exchange Student from Easter Island, 4 hours away from Chile by plane.  Juan has a great sense of humour and fit in so well with the Brady family, that they had him stay an extra week.  He definitely has Ann-Marie's stamp of approval.
Juan is 16 years old and will be spending the next 11 months in Canada.  Speaking with a visual presentation of his home, favourite food, family photos, Juan shared a little bit about himself.  He loves soccer, he has been playing since he was 7 years old.  He also likes to run marathons, plays volleyball, basketball, swimming and listening to music.  Easter Island has always been part of national activities in Chile as well as other parts of the world and Juan is happy to represent his country with sports events, youth pastoral groups, research and science activities.  After his family, the most important to him are his friends.  They have been his companions from a very young age.  Juan's mother, Rommy Gautua is an administrator at a hotel on Easter Island and his father, George Poblete is an air traffic controller.  He has three brothers -- Favian, Diego and Joaquin.
Chile is the longest country in the world and is located in South America, known as a tri-continental country, having insular territory, continental and antartica areas.  They also have one of the best soccer teams in the world.  With a population of 17 million people, the country is divided into 5 zones each with different climates.  Easter Island itself is 3 million years old, a remote volcanic island part of the Chilean territory.  It is famous for archaeological sites including nearly 900 monumental statues called Moai created by inhabitants during the 13th - 16th century.  The population of Easter Island is more than 10,000, but only 3,000 are indigenous, the Rapa Nui with many legends and stories about how they came to the island.  The North Zone of Chile has the driest desert in the world as well as the best sky for astronomy.  The capital of Chile, Santiago is located in the Center Zone.  Juan was born in the City of Concepcion, the second largest city in Chile, part of the South Zone.  There are huge glaciers located in the Austral Zone and Antartica as well as penguins.  Easter Island was in danger of destruction until William Mulloy arrived in 1955 and began to restore the archaelogical remains and rebuild the island as a tourist attraction.  The ceremonial village of Oronjo was restored and a school built, where Juan now attends.  He has participated in a program with fellow students and international students and experts in archeology to investigate, analyze and collect information about Easter Island.
The Tapati Rapa Nui Festival, which literally means “Rapa Nui week”, is the most important cultural festival in Easter Island and it is celebrated every year during the first two weeks of February. This festival was born in 1968 with the goal of promoting the  Rapa Nui culture among the islanders and instilling a sense of belonging within the youth.
During the Tapati celebration, the town is divided in two, each part constituting an “alliance” or clan representing the ancient races of the island. Each clan chooses a queen to represent and “lead” them during the competitions and the winner will have the right to the title of “Queen of the Island” for that year. It’s not a beauty contest, but rather a peaceful confrontation between the two clans that will compete through the days and night; where each participant will be able to express their physical and artistic skills to earn points for each candidate. The queen of the clan with the most points will win the crown.
Traditional Easter Island food is based mainly on sea products like fish, among them tuna, mahi mahi, swordfish or kana kana, and seafood like lobster, shrimp and rape rape, a type of small lobster native to the island. Nevertheless, various agricultural products are a cornerstone of the food, like sweet potatoes, taro, yams, plantain, and sugarcane; all of them introduced to Easter Island from the Marquesas Islands a very long time ago.
The Rotary Club of Rapa Nui has twelve members currently.  Juan's father is currently in charge of public relations for the Club.  They have several projects relating to education, health, reforestation, culture, etc.  Juan says he chose Canada for his Rotary Exchange experience because he likes snow, speaks two languages, English and Spanish.  Ian Acton thanked Juan Pi for sharing his story with us.  Well done!