Every day, my excitement continues to grow as my countdown dwindles with only 12 days until we leave for Santiago, Chile. There has been lots of preparation leading up to this trip and I am beyond ready to do more than talk about it and begin to experience it. So far, my fellow classmates and I have been able to interact with our pen pals that we were paired with from the Universidad of Mayor through emails, messages, social media, and in person. We have had class sessions every Monday throughout the semester preparing activities to implement in the classroom placements we will have while we are there, learning how to work with students who are English Language Learners, and preparing to travel as ambassadors of Buffalo State College and our country.
Although I am beyond excited to be able to have this once in a life time experience, there are other things that I am nervous about as well, mainly speaking in Spanish. As I have been preparing for this trip and have been telling people that I am traveling to Santiago, Chile, the most popular question I have been asked is "Do you know Spanish?" My answer is always "A little. I remember some from when I was in high school." Which is when everyone proceeds to give me a look of "Good luck with that." or some have even said it out loud. I think the most challenging part about this trip for me will be the language barrier I will have with the people around me. I am scared that it may take away from my experiences while I am in Chile.
As a future teacher, this situation of a language barrier will give me the opportunity to experience what it is like being in the student's shoes for those who are English Language Learners in the classroom. Throughout my college career, I have had many opportunities to work with children who do not speak English as their first language. This can cause many issues for students who are learning challenging content with minimal knowledge of the language they have to learn it in. While in Chile, the roles will be reversed and I will be the student who will have to have an abundance of patients while being immersed in this new language. As a teacher who plans to become certified to work with English Language Learners, there is no better opportunity to learn exactly what these students feel everyday they walk into their classroom in the United States.
The count down continues as I prepare to see my Chilean friends again who we met in January. I am ready to try all of the new foods that were suggested to me, especially the completo! Maybe the next time you hear from me, I will be in Santiago, Chile!