Well, I have been back in the United States for a little over 2 weeks now. I do miss Chile but I am very glad to be back with my friends and family. The trip was a really great experience that I am very glad to have had. I learned a lot from every moment of my time there and I am excited to use this new knowledge in my first student teaching placement in August. It will be a dual language classroom so my experience in school 25 should be a great help even though the school will be run differently. It was great to see how the teachers in that school and especially the student teacher interacted with the kids. Hopefully the children in my school will be as excited to see me everyday as her’s were. It definitely strengthened my decision to obtain a certification in TESOL and work with English Language Learners for my career. It is interesting that I can still think a lot of things through in Spanish although I definitely need to practice more. Also, I can definitely understand my boyfriend and his mother more when they use it than I could before I left, so that is a huge benefit. Hopefully, I can go to New York City and practice more soon. Overall, I am very glad that I went because it was a hugely beneficial experience that I know I will use for years to come. Maybe my boyfriend and I can go back there some time and see it again.
The last day in school 25 was definitely the best. My teacher Karla was very nice and encouraging. This was the first chance I had to really talk to her and it is great how much she seems to really care about people from the children, to student teachers, to other members of the staff. She even helped the kids in each class organize a surprise party for the student teacher’s last day. In the class, the kids also practiced singing the song that they would sing for the school as part of English Day. Karla told me that I should introduce the class to the school before they began to sing. I was nervous but agreed to do it. The school also planned a thank you party for us with a cake. It was very nice of them since we were not there for very long and things were hectic for them right now. Everyone was very nice today.
As the school was setting up for English day, we had a chance to play with the children. My children from my third grade class really took to me and wanted to talk. Dr. Patti was really prepared with books and maps for the children and she gave me a book with both Spanish and English words to read for the children. I was actually surprised how enthused the children were with the book with just words and pictures to match because I don’t think that third graders would be as interested if the book didn’t have a story or information to go along with it. The children were greatly interested in reading the words both in Spanish and English and they were surprisingly good at reading new English words. Sometimes the girls needed help but I was surprised how many they were able to say on their own. Next, the girls asked me to read the book “The Three Little Pigs” which was written in both Spanish and English. Again I was surprised by the girls because we began where I would read the page in English and they would read the page in Spanish but then they only wanted me to read in English. I do think that they knew the story before, but I do think that a lot of the children at home would want it read in a way that they could understand well. I really loved getting to know these children and I was sad to leave them at the end.
Next, English Day began and it was interesting to see. The entire school was seated around a stage that the school built in the courtyard area. The children brought chairs from their classroom to sit in and I was surprised because when you looked at it like that, there were actually a lot of children even though the school seems small. The program started with a girl singing in English and I thought that it was amazing that she could memorize that whole song because I know that I could not memorize a whole song in Spanish. Next the school began a spelling bee where girls had to spell words in English. The girls did a great job even though they were very obviously nervous. They had extra pressure too as the ceremony was beginning we saw a news crew and later as the spelling bee was beginning, a lady who is very high up in Education came in the watch. She only stayed while the girls were actually spelling their words but it was enough to really make the girls nervous and I felt bad for them. In the middle, they also had another girl sing who did an amazing job. After the spelling bee, two student groups performed in including my third graders. I had a great time watching the children perform because they were very cute and excited and they put a lot of heart into it.
After the ceremony, it was time to say goodbye to everyone that we had met. This was hard because I really liked my teacher and the student teacher that I was working with. When I said thank you for the opportunity my teacher thanked me because she said that it was important for the children to have an opportunity to hear native English speakers. I also had a chance to meet two other student teachers who had been at the school that semester. They were very nice and they were talking about how they would like to travel to the United States eventually when they have money. They also told me that I should come back here and that the Chilean government has a scholarship so that teachers can come and work in a school for a while teaching English. I sounded like an interesting opportunity for me to practice my Spanish more as well as get some great experience teaching. I would have to see what happens though because if I could get a job teaching in the United States, that would probably be a better long term opportunity. I also don’t know if I would like teaching in this country for a whole year because the structure is just so different from what I am used to. Plus, Dr. Del Prado said that you could be placed anywhere in the country so I might not be able to stay in Santiago.
After, our awesome last day in the school, we went to ECELA for a pasta dinner. It was nice being able to talk to friends from the school again as well as meet some new people. I got to talk to Vaihi, my new friend from Tahiti and say good bye to her and talk to Nikki from Scotland. I also met new people from England, Brazil, and Austria who are all staying in the ECELA house with my other friends. ECELA also did a nice graduation ceremony for the Brazilians and us since we are leaving and gave us certificates. I am very greatful that we were able to participate in the ECELA program and actually wish we could have stayed longer because it was just an amazing experience.
Today was the second day being in the Benjamin Vicuna Mackenna school and working with the teachers. One thing that is very obviously different about this school from the various schools in the United States that I have worked in is just the amount of freedom that students have. Elementary students from many different grades are allowed to run around on the uneven concrete floor and climb on medal poles over this floor with only one adult watching to make sure that the children don’t get hurt. This would definitely not happen in the United States because everybody is much more worried about safety and don’t want to take the chance that the students could get hurt. For this reason, it was hard for all of us to watch students take risks and hold back from stopping them. Many times people from our group would start to say something to the children like be careful or stop but then realize that the children are allowed to do that and they wouldn’t understand if we said that anyway.
Another thing that I saw was that teachers are able to do a lot more without worry from the community. For instance, for the Chile game yesterday, the kindergarten teacher whom I was working with put lipstick on each of the children using the same lipstick container. In the United States, parents and school personnel would have complained about the germs and potential diseases being spread from one student to the other. Many parents may also have complained that that is too young for children to be wearing makeup. The children loved this though so I was not sure how to feel. I also liked how we were able to take pictures of the children and no one said anything about it. In the United States, teachers need to ask for special permission before they can take pictures of the students. I liked this more relaxed aspect of the school.
The last very main thing that I found really interesting about the day in the school was how many breaks children were able to have. The children had a break about every hour but they used them too. The children did not have a lot of things during these breaks but they knew how to play by themselves. It also seemed that when they returned to the classroom, they were refreshed and ready to focus unlike being burned out as I think children in the U.S. become especially younger learners. There are a lot more as well, but I thought that those were some main points that stuck out to me. This has definitely been an amazing, worthwhile experience.
Today was a fun crazy day. I needed to get up very early because we went to Valparaiso, Vina del Mar, and Isla Negra. The trip was very fun though and we went with a lot more people this time. After everyone met at the school we took a bus to Isla Negra. Isla Negra was beautiful. It is one of the houses of Pablo Neruda and I thought that it was more beautiful than his house in Santiago. The house is right on the beach and you can see the amazing ocean view from the window in the bedroom. It was unbelievable how much thought Neruda put into every little detail when planning that house. I know that I would never be even remotely that creative when planning my house. I also thought that it was interesting how Neruda made the house long and thin like Chile. Overall, usually I would not be interested in seeing the house of a famous person but this was definitely an exception.
Next we went to see the rest of the city of Valparaiso. Again, I thought that the city was very beautiful to see. The buildings had more of an antique, classic look than many other cities in the world including Santiago. I really liked this look and would enjoy seeing the inside of these classic houses. I really like history. I also thought that it was really cool that Valparaiso as a gigantic market right along a major road which we took. The market literally continued for over a mile or two. The city had many wonderful murals on the walls and we were able to go on a boat tour of the harbor before we walked around the city. The tour was really fun and I learned that Valparaiso used to be a very wealthy city in Santiago when the Panama Canal first began. I really enjoyed this city.
Lastly, we traveled to Vina del Mar. By the time we arrived though it was already dark so it was hard to see. I did touch the Pacific Ocean as I ran away from the water coming at me. Since it was hard to see it we became bored of the view quickly and got ice cream from a tasty but poor ice-cream place. I thought it was a good day and I was very tired at the end.
Today was more of a sad day. This was my last Spanish class which normally in college I would be excited about but I actually love my classes here. I wish that I could take the classes longer because on top of learning a great deal and being very successful, they were actually really fun. I will miss my amazing teachers.
After class to continue our somber day, we went to the museum of memory. This museum was unbelievably sad but also very interesting. I wish that I had gone by myself because I like to take my time and therefore, I only got through a third of the museum before everyone else was ready to go. I really like history and enjoyed learning about the strength of the people in the midst of such horrors and fear. It is also unbelievable to think that most of the people on the streets and the parents of the children in the schools have lived through that. I think that it’s great that people have been able to move past it and still enjoy their lives.
The last thing that we did that day was get ice cream at an amazing ice cream place. I wish that we had gone there earlier in the trip because that had an extremely large amount of variety. They were also playing the Ecuador futbol game on TV so I was happy that i was able to watch it and see what happened. I was extremely happy that they ended up winning at the end but we had to leave slightly beforehand because no one else has an attachment to the country.
I had a really great day today. In the morning, my classes were very good and I thought that I learned a lot. After class we went to school 25 to meet the teachers that we will be working with and see the school that we will be working in. I really enjoyed seeing and learning about this school because it was so different from the schools in the United States. The children at the school need to wear uniforms to the public school so some of the children were wearing uniforms and others were dressed in the country’s colors in preparation for the futbol game against Spain which was today. Also, the school looked very different because it included an open air courtyard at the center where the children could play during recess without the teachers needing to worry about watching them too much. The children could be seen playing from all around the school. It will be interesting to see more differences when I actually begin working in the school. When I talked to my teacher she was very nice and she actually took me to each of the classrooms of the students that I would be working with and introduced me to the children. They were all very cute and were extremely excited to meet me. I can’t wait to start working with them. One other great thing that happened is that I found out that I would be paired with a kindergarten teacher in the morning because the English teacher who I am working with only works there in the afternoon. I am very excited about this because now I will get to have two experiences instead of just the one and will learn from two teachers.
After the school we went to a restaurant to eat lunch and watch the futbol game. The game was really fun because Chile did extremely well and the fans in Chile are crazy. Every time that Chile scored a goal the fans went crazy cheering and celebrating. I am very glad that we came to Chile for el Mundial and also glad that I went home after this game. As I was walking home people were still celebrating by doing cheers, honking cars in sequence to a cheer, blowing into horns on the sidewalk, and dressing in Chilean colors. It was also interesting that I continued to hear horns blaring for hours after I arrived home which is much longer than we would celebrate even a superbowl win in the states.
At night the last thing that we did was go to a discoteca at night since the school provided free entrance and drinks. I did not drink very much but I enjoyed dancing a lot. I personally thought that the music was much better than in the U. S. because I love the rhythm of the Latin music that they had mixed into the popular American music. I do not have much experience with clubs in the United States so it is impossible for me to compare the two but I did have a lot of fun and even though I wasn’t trilled before leaving, I’m glad that I went.
Today was a really fun day for me. As usual, I had a really great time learning Spanish in my classes. Since today is Monday the classes changed so that we had different teachers and they became much more difficult. For my conversation class, I was placed in a class that was at a higher level than I was supposed to be in because the class which I should have moved to was in the afternoon. Fortunately, I was able to interact in my class anyway so hopefully I will just learn a lot more by being pushed farther. I have the same teachers but for opposite classes so I already know that I like them.
After class, it was nice outside so we decided to go to the Santa Lucia hill where the Spanish people took the city. The architecture was amazing. I love seeing very old buildings and the view from the top was pretty beautiful. Unfortunately, the city holds a lot of smog unless it rains so it was hard to see too far because the sky would look grey. The view was still magnificent though.
After Santa Lucia, the group went to this mall market with vendors who sell crafty items. This was really good because I was able to find souvenirs for my family back home. A lot of the items were very pretty. From Santa Lucia, we went to a bar with some friends who we met while in Chile, we had some drinks and ate some tapas or appetizers. One thing that we found interesting about the bar was that when we asked the waiter to play the USA game for the mundial, he said that he was not allowed to but we have watched other countries play there.
Lastly, that night I ate dinner with my family and I was talking to my host sister. She is in university taking classes to become a teacher as well. She was telling me a little bit about her program in Chile and how they do practice in schools. I like that I was able to compare it to ours because it was different. She also told me about some different types of schools that they have in Chile. She said that the types of schools such as Montessori and Waldorf are not common in Chile but they do have one of each. She mentioned many other types of schools that I did not recognize either because they sounded different or I had just not heard of them before. Overall, I had a very interesting day.
I had a great time today just being a little bit calmer. First we took the subway to a little group of Artisan shops and bought some gifts for our families back home and maybe ourselves as well. Then we ate at the cafe at the front. I along with me meal, I got this really awesome frambuesa or raspberry juice. Afterwards we went to see a small market that sells fruits, vegetables, and fish. It looked really cool but they were packing up when we got there. It’s sad because I kind of wanted to buy some fruit. I have not really had any here and I miss it.
After the market, we got back on the subway and rode to La Moneda. This is the building where the Chilean president works. Although we were not able to go inside, it looked very nice from the outside. I really liked the orange trees which surprised me because I did not think that the climate allowed for them. Since we could not see much inside La Moneda, we went into the museum afterward. This was mainly an art museum so I was not as interested in it. There was one side with some more historical photographs which were much more interesting to me but overall, I liked the History Museum of Chile much better. One thing that interested me was that there was an educational section but the section included drawing and artsy materials for children but at the same time it included challenging, emotionally charged topics such as delincuencia and homosexual marriage. The topics were included words as well as photographs for the museum that were given to inspire your drawings. I thought that these were very out of place and too difficult for children. When people were done they would put the pictures on the wall for everyone to see. I thought that this seemed like a great propaganda technique and even though I agreed with some of the topics, you should not force them on children that are not old enough for critical thinking about them and cannot actually understand the ideas.
After the museum, I went home and ate dinner with my father. When I was done I was still very tired and sick with a resfriado. For this reason, I was on the computer for a short time and then just went to sleep.
Today was my fourth day in Chile and my third day in my Spanish classes. I really like the classes but especially my conversation class. My teacher is really fun because she makes a lot of great faces, acts things out, makes lots of jokes, and mainly teaches the class though games. Despite the fact that the class is mainly games, I have really learned a lot of words and information. This is a great method and I hope to greatly include it in my teaching in the future. The class is still very difficult though because it is an intermediate class where they expect you to have a solid foundation and my foundation has quite a few holes, also the teacher talks relatively quickly because she knows that we understand more. Overall, I do feel that my Spanish has grown greatly.
For lunch, we went to eat at a restaurant that we went to on the first day. I realized that it has become much easier to read a menu and order because I was able to understand almost everything this time. Now I also know words that are necessary so I do not need help from Dr. Del Prado for that.
Another event that happened today was the Brazil versus Croatia game in the Mundial. This was a great experience because we watched the game at the Spanish school with students from around the world including Brazilians and the Chileans who run the school. The Brazilians were extremely invested in the game so they sang the anthem at the top of their lungs, screamed their countries name, made joking remarks to the Chileans, and were excited in many other ways. I thought my family at home becomes excited about the Superbowl but this was much more intense. We had a lot of fun.
Lastly, I went home and my Chilean family had been watching the game and had invited over relatives. I was able to meet the nephew and talk to the nieces. It was fun talking to the nephew but he thought that it was crazy to try to learn Spanish in three weeks. I told him that I would need to practice and home. Then he asked his cousins to practice saying English words with me so that I could see it by asking them their colors and animals. The girls were extremely cute and I was surprised how much English the four year old knew. She even played games with me through apps on a phone and was able to identify colors quickly as well as mix colors in English to make others and identify colors of objects in the room in English. I liked talking to the girl in Spanish because she spoke slower. I have realized that as much as I enjoy my classes, Chile is one of the most difficult countries to learn Spanish in because people talk so quickly. While I was eating dinner with my family many times they would say something to me and I would need to ask them to repeat themselves. They would try to say what they wanted in English and I would realize that I knew the word for that but I could not pick out the individual words because their sentence was so quick. Still, listening to people should be much easier when I talk to people from other countries.
I would definitely say that my trip has been successful so far and a great experience. I can wait for more to come!
It is only the second day in Chile and the first day at ECELA but I am learning so much. I am already beginning to think in Spanish which has helped me a lot in my ability to form sentences. My family is very nice and the mother does not speak English so I am forced to practice my Spanish a lot. It is good though because she gave me a dictionary so that if either of us needs a word when talking to each other we can look it up. Later, my first class was very difficult but with a small amount of scaffolding I was able to participate in the conversation with my class. I also met a boy in my class who lives with the same family as I do who is from Brazil. He was very nice. Later in my second class, I learned a lot about teaching a class using the immersion method. The teacher was very good at explaining the information slowly to help everyone learn. After class, we walked to San Cristobal hill and went to the top. It was extremely pretty and calming. The city and the Andes looked beautiful from the top. Lastly, at the end of the night, we had a BBQ at ECELA. All of the food was really great and all of the people were nice. The only bad part of the day was when I got lost walking home. Fortunately my Spanish skills are growing and the people on the street who I asked for help were very helpful so eventually I did find my house. I will need to be better next time. Overall, it was a great second day and I really like Chile.