By Orlando Flores, Edith Elgueta, and Francisco Rowe
The origins of UQ Chile are not in The University of Queensland. Not even in Brisbane. To understand why there is an association of Chilean students, researchers and professionals at UQ we have to travel 1,680 km south. To Melbourne.
It was 2014, and the Chilean postgraduate students at The University of Melbourne were organising a conference to showcase their research experiences and discuss about the potential impact of their projects in Chile. Among them, Francisco Rowe and Edith Elgueta (both research students at UQ) were also attending, and looking with interest the benefits of having an organisation to enhance the student life as Chilean researchers living abroad.
Back in Brisbane, a small room in the Biological Science Library received the first 10-12 students that heard about the idea: to create an association of Chilean students and professionals at The University of Queensland.
A couple of months later (on the 27th of February 2015), 30 Chileans signed the first document supporting the idea of creating an association to be affiliated to the UQ Union, officially represent Chilean UQ students, and provide a platform and critical mass to create and organize academic and social activities.
For the records, some of the founders of UQ Chile (which at that time has no name, no logo, and not even a document declaring purposes and statutes) were: Francisco Rowe, Edith Elgueta, Rodrigo Suarez, Pablo Gándara, Cristian Carrasco, Hernán Caceres, Macarena Rueda, Claudia González, Álvaro Salazar, Claudio Cortés, Cristian Carrasco, Orlando Flores, Jenny García, Verónica Martínez, Gonzalo Almarza, Mario Pizarro, Paulina Gárate and Eduardo Albornoz (full list of names in the picture attached).
The first management board was elected with the mission of creating the statutes of the association and to register the association at UQ Union, to be officially recognized by the university. Francisco Rowe was elected President, and Edith Elgueta was the first Vice-President. Pablo Gándara was in office as Secretary, while Claudia González take the office as Treasurer. Finally, Orlando Flores was the first General Manager of the association.
The statutes of UQ Chile (you can download it from https://www.uqchile.com/downloads/) were written by the management board and approved in the first general meeting in May 2015.
Just a few weeks after its inception, UQ Chile has the first opportunity to represent Chilean students at UQ, by discussing with the university whether the SSAF fees has to be paid by students under Becas Chile-CONICYT program. Even when the outcome was not very positive at that time, it was an important demonstration of the need of official representation.
UQ Union finally recognized UQ Chile in August 2015, and a bank account was opened for the association. A few months later, and because UQ Chile was participating in the organization of the 3rd Chilean Graduate Conference 2015 (in Melbourne), the official logo of UQ Chile was launched.
At the end of 2015, the first few (and probably the hardest) steps of the newborn association were made. With a lot of challenges in the horizon, the association of Chilean students and professionals was ready to face its second year of life. A year that will bring to Brisbane the 4th version of the Chilean Graduate Conference in Australia. But that is another story.