In fall 2009, Harvard undergraduate Richard Coffin participated in the DRCLAS Study Abroad Program in Chile. Five years later, now as a Harvard alumnus, he returned to Santiago as a Fulbright Scholar. From March until November 2014, Coffin is part of a selective group of professionals conducting research in Chile through the prestigious Fulbright Program. His research project focuses on the Chilean youth's political participation, in light of the recent change in the Chilean voting system (voting is no longer mandatory) and the surge of student protests since 2011. Through his research project, Coffin tries to understand why Chilean students are actively involved in political protests, but are not making it to the polls to vote.
During his time abroad as an undergraduate through DRCLAS, he enrolled in the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile and took courses on Latin American politics and civic engagement. Upon his return to Harvard, he continued his studies on the subject and decided to write a senior thesis on the civic and political engagement of immigrants in the United States across socioeconomic status. Coffin began working in market research after graduating from Harvard, but his passion for politics and Latin America remained present. With the onset of the student protests in Chile in 2011 and as a result of his experience studying abroad, he decided to find a way to be part of and understand this historical time in Chilean politics. Coffin remarks, "I didn't want to just be behind a desk during such a tumultuous and fascinating time in Chilean history. I wanted to be in the middle of it." The Fulbright Program has allowed him to do so. "I am grateful to the Fulbright Program for this amazing opportunity, and also to DRCLAS for paving the way for me to achieve all of this. DRCLAS was fundamental in me coming to Chile in the first place, and provided me with tools and connections that were critical in allowing me to come back a second time and engage in this research project. I highly recommend that Harvard undergraduates study abroad through DRCLAS and take advantage of the significant resources the Center has to offer," concluded Coffin.
Richard Coffin '11
Study Abroard Program Chile - Fall 2009