About the Author: Johanna Villalobos serves as the Public Diplomacy Officer for the countries of Brazil and the Southern Cone. She managed U.S. messaging as the Chile mine disaster unfolded, and facilitated the follow-up exhibition at the Smithsonian.
On October 13, 2010, at 11:11 a.m., I was captivated by images of human beings deep in the Chilean desert as they emerged from the ground in a simple metal capsule dubbed the “Phoenix.” My emotions overwhelmed me when Florencio Avalos became the first miner rescued after 69 days underground. During that powerful moment, made possible by the collaborative creativity and efforts of people from around the world, I felt I was right there in the desert with those who were present to celebrate the rescue. Still, I had no idea that this event so far away, which captured the hearts and minds of so many, would actually become an integral part of my life.
I have had the opportunity to work with the Smithsonian Institution during the last 10 months in developing an exhibit about the rescue. “Against All Odds: Rescue at the Chilean Mine” highlights the… more »