I cannot believe that it has been over two weeks since I left Chile to come back home. I'm back to working my busy schedule and enjoying the rest of my summer break, before I start my final year as an undergraduate. Yay!
By the time we were wrapping up the last week of our stay, I was missing my family, friends at home, and my bed. Now, I really miss being in Chile even more! I'm sure my friends and co-workers are sick of me talking about Chile. Everyday I bring up something I learned or experienced when I was in Chile in conversations, just simply because I want to reminiscence everything I did in those three weeks. Maybe I'm just really feeling that post travel depression, because I went from sleeping in my bed in the suburbs of Buffalo to staying in a beautiful apartment with a breathtaking view of the Andes, and back to my home.
There are so many things I miss about Chile. I miss the amazing food that I got to taste. I would kill for some ceviche, choripan, the freshly squeezed juice or that amazing seafood soup I had when we went to Valparaíso. I miss the friendly staff at ECELA, my friends of the 2019 Buffalo Delegation from Universidad Mayor, the falculty and the students we met when visiting UMayor, my host family, and the students from the schools we visited. Oh I can't forget about the stray dogs! I wanted to take them all home with me. These people (and fur babies) really made the experience ten times better than I had expected. What also made this trip special, was spending it with the members of the 2019 Cohort. I learned so much about my classmates and professors as I'm sure they have learned more about me than we did in class. I wouldn't trade this experience with this group of wonderful ladies for the world!
When I left Chile, I made sure to bring a piece of it with me. I brought back some of their famous wines, the notes and drawings that the students made for me, recipes, a playlist of famous Reggaeton songs by Chilean (and other Latin American) artists, poetry from Pablo Neruda, some of the slang or special words that only Chileans use in Spanish, and numerous of photos of all the activities I participated in. Now I have things to forever, remind me of the best time of my life.
As an open minded individual, who is always eager to learn, I can say that the three weeks in Chile really helped me grow as a person and as a future educator. I really immersed myself into the culture, but also immersed myself in learning about the Education system in Chile. And with that, I feel that I have taken back wonderful strategies to use for my teaching in the future, especially when I have language learners in my class.
If it wasn't for IPDS Chile, I would not be able to talk about all these amazing things I learned and experience. Because of this program, I feel confident going forward with my methods courses, student teaching, and teaching in general. It provided me the extra practice that I really needed, and I want to encourage all teacher candidates to participate in IPDS Chile, especially to my fellow mathematics education majors. You will not regret it, I promise! If you're worried about the cost of this program, there's no need. There are lots of scholarships through the school that will help minimize the cost. All you have to do is apply and show how excited and determined you are about participating in this learning experience, because that is exactly what I did and I had the support to make it happen.
Of course, none of this would have happen without the amazing team work of Dr. del Prado, Dr. Patti, and Dr. Schmidt for making what IPDS Chile is today. They really did an incredible job for organizing this year's trip. They really did look out for my fellow classmates and I. I mean how cool, but thoughtful of them to have set up a meeting for me to participate a class with math education majors at Universidad Mayor where we could collaborate ideas. I know I am the first mathematics education (and possibly the first secondary education major) to participate in IPDS Chile, and the fact that they made sure I was going to get the same learning experience as my fellow classmates but to also participate in activities in my content area, shows how dedicated they are to the program and care about their participants.
I want to give a special thank you to the Dean of Arts and Humanities, Dr. Benjamin Christy, and Dr. Jane Cushman, the Chair of the Department of Mathematics, for the scholarship donations, but also for the support of sending one of your own students on this wonderful learning experience. Also, thank you Dr. Tamara for helping me and my classmates find multiple scholarships opportunities and helping us with the paper work!
Finally, I want to thank everyone who followed and share my journey by reading my blogs. You all are the bee's knees! Hopefully this will not be the last time I'll participate in IPDS. Maybe, I'll participate in IPDS Chile 2021 as a grad student or maybe be a trailblazer for another IPDS program!
Until then, I'm off to finish my journey as an undergrad!
(Again this blog is late too, sorry!)
I am writing this blog with tears rolling down my cheeks as it is now time for me to fly back to Buffalo. I have held these tears since Monday as it was the beginning of my final week of being in Chile, but after I returned to my host home after touring Cerro San Cristobal today with two hours left before being picked up, that’s when the waterworks started. I will talk more about my final hoorah in Chile in just a bit, I want to pick back up from where I left off in my previous blog.
Monday and Tuesday were my last days of placements. Wednesday, we were supposed to return to Colegio Benjamín Vicuña, but the teachers went on strike. They went on strike for the same reason the teachers in the United States do, which is wanting a higher salary for teachers. Teacher’s make less money than doctors and engineers in the U.S., but in Chile its even worst. From what the teachers and teacher candidates have told me, wanting to be a teacher is looked down on, or that being a teacher is not a “real job”. It nearly broke my heart hearing that, but it’s not the first time I have heard this. I was a former engineering major and I have my Associates Degree in Electrical Engineering, but once I realized that engineering was not for me and switched to Mathematics Education, I have been criticized for it. I would get comments from “You’re not going to be making a lot of money” to “Teaching is an easy job. People who cannot do anything teach.” I would get a little sad when people would say that to me, but I love teaching. It is a rewarding profession and I am honestly happy with what I am doing now in school and what I will be doing in the future when I teach full-time. I do believe teachers should be paid more, especially since we are the ones who are teaching future doctors, engineers, CEOs, etc. However, I am not in this profession for the money, I’m in it for the students.
So, with our Wednesday’s placements being cancelled, my classmates and I had the rest of the day free after our Spanish classes. We decided to get choripans from a food truck nearby ECELA that Krista had gone to a few days before. A choripan is a chorizo sausage inside a bun (pan is the Spanish word for bread/bun), served with pebre, mustard, ketchup, or mayonnaise (Chileans really love their mayo ha-ha). Basically, choripan is like eating an Italian sausage link or bratwurst on a bun, but the chorizo sausage in Chile is different that the one we are used to in the United States. It’s not spicy and it is in a casing just like Italian sausage. After eating choripans and took a few hours to relax at our host homes, we returned to ECELA around 6 PM for a cooking class to make Charquican. Charquican is traditional Chilean stew that has potatoes, onions, garlic, corn, carrots, red peppers, pumpkin, horse meat (don’t panic! We used ground beef, but it was traditionally made with horse meat), and a fried egg to top it off. I had so much fun making this stew with my classmates and other students at ECELA, with the guidance of our instructor Astrid (I love this lady and I will definitely miss her. She is lively and you can help but love her presence.) I am not a huge fan of chunky soups/stews and pumpkin, but this soup was super amazing! Now that I have the recipe and now knowing how easy it is to make, I will definitely make charquican at home whenever I crave for soup but also when I’m missing Chile.
On Thursday after Spanish classes and lunch, we went to Universidad Mayor for Once (pronounced as ohn – say). The literal translation for “Once” is the number “11” but in this case, once is an after dinner “meal” where family members eat something light, drink tea, coffee, or hot chocolate, and spend time together by talking. This gathering included us, some of the students who came to Buffalo, the Conversation Club, the student teachers who took us to our placement, some of the UMayor faculty we met, and a few other students we met during our stay. We gather around in a circle we talked about the experience we had, things we learned, and we talked about anything and everything over cake and coffee or juice. It was such a relaxing event, but it was a little bittersweet as I knew that this was one of the last times, we would see each other before returning to Buffalo.
After the Once at Universidad Mayor, we went to Tiare’s house for a little farewell party. Tiare is one of the students from the university who came to Buffalo in February and she was my pen pal. At her house, we met her mother, ate some delicious snacks, danced (Tiare showed me how to dance to Bachata and Meringue), listened to great music, and talked. It was so nice of Tiare and her mother for welcoming us to her home and for her to throw us this little party. I will forever be thankful for her and the others who welcomed my classmates and I to their homes, classrooms, and any other events that we’ve attended, during our stay.
The last hoorahs were a blast until I returned to my host home for the final two hours of my stay. Friday was my last day at ECELA and I had to hold in the tears, especially after receiving my certificate for completing my classes. Once I received my certificate, the teachers at ECELA asked me to give a speech in Spanish, which I did with gratitude. After this little ceremony, I stayed at the school for a little longer eat more choripans and chat with fellow ECELA students and the teachers that I had during the three weeks before saying my final goodbyes.
Tonight, was our final day before leaving for the airport at 7 PM. My classmates and I spent half the day with Paul, Fernanda, and Benjamin (more students who visited Buffalo) at Cerro San Cristobal, which is the largest hill/park in South America. We were supposed to have visited this monumental place around the first week of being in Chile, but when we did go it was closed. However, this time it was open, and we were able to take cable cars to go to the top of the hill. Prior to arriving to Chile, I read the blogs from students who have participated in IPDS Chile in the past, and they have mentioned about their experience going to Cerro San Cristobal. I do not like heights but reading the blogs and with Dr. Patti’s reassuring words, prepared me to face my fears and ride the cable car to the top of the hill. I am so glad that I went through with it, because the view from the cable car and from the top of the hill was absolutely gorgeous! Seeing the giant Virgin Mary statue at the top of hill and the wall of gifts that the locals leave after their prayers have come true, was amazing. After spending half of the day at the park, we had our final lunch together at a Taiwanese restaurant. Although the food was very tasty, I was really holding back my emotions since this was the last hour of being together before leaving. I was thinking about the wonderful people I met, the places I’ve gone, the food I ate, and the entire experience, and I was not ready to leave. However, I made my last moments of being with my friends the best, because they have made three-week stay in Chile, the best experience of a lifetime.
(Ah this is so late. I didn't realize that my blog had not updated!)
I cannot believe that the final week of the IPDS Chile expedition is ending. I am not ready to go back to Buffalo, but I am already making plans to visit again during the summer (our winter). However, I am very grateful for this opportunity and the experience that came with it. I learned a lot about Chile through the language, food, our friends from Universidad Mayor, my placements, and through the tours that ECELA offered, and I hope to continue learn more about Chile when I go back home.
The final week of my journey started with new grammar and conversation classes at ECELA with new teachers. I loved all my classes and teachers from the other two weeks, but this week’s conversation class with Angelica and the grammar classes with Angelica and Francisco was such a blast. I do not think I have ever laughed so much in a class than I did this entire week. If anyone knows me, they know I laugh at everything, especially with corny jokes/puns. However, being in this class with this teacher had really given me the confidence to speak in Spanish and not have to really think about how to translate whatever I want to say. In my grammar class, I finally understand when to use the indefinite and imperfect past tense for verbs conjugation. As I mentioned before in one of the previous blogs, I have taken Spanish classes back when I was in high school (Spanish 1 all the way to AP Spanish). So, I know a good amount of vocabulary and know how to conjugate the verbs in different tenses. However, Chilean Spanish is a little different as in there are some words that are different in Chile or in other countries in South America than the words in “traditional” Spanish. For example, “pololo(a)” is the word for boyfriend (or girlfriend) in Chile, whereas in other Spanish speaking countries they say “novio(a)” instead.
Also, this week, I had two placements at the schools in Chile. On Monday, I went to Colegio Benjamín Vicuña with Kayla, where we visited two classes, one 4th grade and one 3rd grade class. This placement was more of a “We’re going to wing it”, because the student teacher from UMayor had taken completely over the class since the lead teacher was sick and had gone home. This was different to see because in New York by law, the student teacher cannot teach without a licensed teacher (which includes substitute teachers). Although the placement went well, I could not help but feel sorry for the student teacher. It was like her against the world due to the lead teacher being sick and could not help with the classroom management, and that the students were super excited to get to interact with people from the United States. Since I felt so bad, I tried to help her out by trying to have the students pay attention to the student teacher, but also by helping them with their activity worksheet. Thankfully Kayla was also able to help by using her instructional activity, which was a bingo game where the students had to match the picture of the animal to its name in English. This game went in hand with the student teacher’s lesson and it was the perfect way to get the students to focus, but also learn.
On Tuesday, I returned to Colegio Saint Maurice for the last class of the day, which was the same 5th grade class from the last time. Before I could walk into the classroom, I was swarmed with lots of hugs from the students. They were so excited to see Krista and I and just as excited that we were coming back to their class. This time we didn’t get to use any of our other instructional activities, but we watched our friend, Valentina, teach. The lesson topic for that day was teaching the students the “W-H” questions (What, who, when, where, why, how, how much, how many). The interesting part of the lesson was how she was teaching the class. I knew that the English classes here is very similar to ta a foreign language class in the United states, but to see a lesson (including my placement on Monday), was just really cool. After Valentina went over the “WH” questions with examples, the students worked on an activity sheet where they had to select the correct “WH” question to complete the sentence. This was when Krista and I were able to walk around the classroom and help the students with the activity sheet. Once the students had finished and had gone over the answers, Valentina allowed Krista and I to go to the front of the class to answer any more questions that the students had for us but only using the “W-H” questions. This was a great way to end the class but also a great opportunity for the students to practice this type of question and to practice speaking in English. After the class ended, we went to the teacher’s planning room and that when I had donated all my instructional materials that I was given from home and the instructional activities I created, including the “Who am I” geometry game I demonstrated last week with the 6th grade class. Valentina and the lead teachers at Colegio Saint Maurice were extremely happy and grateful for my donation and it just brought joy to my heart to see the appreciation on their faces.
Overall, I really enjoyed observing this class and even the one on Monday. It was interesting to see how teachers (and teacher candidates) teach here in Chile. However, there are many similarities in how we teach in the United States as well how teachers teach in Chile, but there are also some differences in our educational systems. I was able to learn a lot from all my placements and I plan to take the knowledge and the strategies back with me so that I can use them for my student teaching and when I’m teaching full-time
This beautiful quote, from the famous Chilean poet, Pablo Neruda, has stuck with me over the weekend. The English translation for this line says, “Today is today, and yesterday was it. There is no doubt.” How thoughtful and peaceful, right? I'll talk more about Pablo Neruda and this quote in just a bit!
Anyway, I can't believe we just closed on week two and starting week three. I have been enjoying every second that I’m here whether it’s going to Spanish classes at ECELA, visiting Universidad Mayor, going to our Placements, meeting up with our friends from UMayor for dinner and drinks or going on different tours. Everything was perfect and I know that our final week here will be just as great as the other two weeks.
On Friday after Spanish classes, we went to Universidad Mayor for a little gathering, where my classmates and I reunited with our Chilean friends and we met other students from UMayor who had visited Buffalo State in the past. It was so cool being able to get to know past delegates and hear them talk about their time spent in Buffalo. Two students that visited Buffalo in 2017 had came back last summer to go to the wedding of one of the girls who went to Chile the last time. I thought that was cool and it shows how well they bonded. I know I have established a great relationship with this year's delegates, that I want to invite them all to be in my wedding, whenever I get married, ha-ha.
On Saturday, ECELA offered a tour to Isla Negra, which is where on of the three homes of Pablo Neruda is located. I jumped on this opportunity, because I had some background knowledge of who Pablo Neruda is and why he is so important in Chile, through a book that I will be using for a Read Aloud activity at one of my placement and from reading one of the blogs from previous students. The first stop we made was market where locals sold their crafts. There were lots of pottery sold here in different sizes and shapes and for really good prices too. I wanted to buy a few bowls, but I was afraid that they would break on the way back to the United States. However, I did purchase a Jenga set (for a great price), a dream catcher, and handmade jewelry. After given an hour to shop, we had lunch at a restaurant that located in the market before we drove to Casa de Isla Negra. Casa de Isla Negra is the name of Pablo Neruda's house turned into a museum, in Isla Negra. His house sits high up, so that it looks over the beach and the water, which you could definitely get to see that breathtaking view from his bedroom. The tour into his house was a self-guided tour, where we each had an electronic device that would tall to us and describe the rooms and all of his trinkets Pablo had received throughout the years. Listening to the story behind Pablo himself, but also about his mistress, the rooms, and why he placed his trinkets in a certain manner just summed him up to be a really thoughtful man. He really was a sweet and adorable man, and is a gem to Chile. By the end of the tour, I had declared Pablo Neruda as my favorite poet (Sorry Edgar Allen Poe!), and bought three books of his poetry, where each book had a different theme. The poems are written in Spanish, but the book comes with the English translations. However, I’m determined to just read the ones in Spanish and try to decipher them myself. The gift shop is where I saw the quote, that I mentioned in the beginning. It was on a postcard and one of my classmates pointed it out to me and asked me to translate it for her. Once I read it, I fell in love with Pablo Neruda even more. Now I want to live by this quote for the rest of my life!
The final destination of this Saturday trip was to the beach, Punta de Tralca. We walked around the beach and up to this rocky hill, where we got the perfect and breathtaking view of the Pacific Ocean as the sun started to set. We stayed for an hour, which was perfect as I sat on top of a rock and relaxed.
On Sunday, half of my classmates went trekking across the Andes where the other half went to a vineyard. I decided to go to the winery because I have never participated in a wine tour and my ankle has been bothering me lately, so I didn’t want to irritate it more by trekking. Hopefully the next time I come to visit; I will be ready to go trekking. Anyway, we went to Undurraga Vineyards, which is one of the oldest wineries in the area and it produces a large amount of Chilean wine that is exported all over the world! I learned that about 70% of Carménère wine is produced in Chile due to the perfect climate, the wine barrels are mainly produced in France and in the United States where in 5 years they are later sold to vendors that make liquors such as Pisco, whiskey, etc. I loved learning how they plant the grapes in a certain way to how they transfer the grapes to the machines with woodchips to turn them into a liquid before storing it into the barrels. Of course, my favorite part of the tour was tasting the wines. We tried four types of wines, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Carménère, and a dessert wine (I cannot remember unfortunately). I normally drink sweet or semi-dry white wines, but I was very surprised how delicious the Cabernet Sauvignon and the Carménère were. I ended up buying a bottle of Carménère to take home with me, it was that delicious! I was one happy camper by the end of the day
I am sure you are wondering, “what does this title even mean?” Well don’t worry, it will make sense in a bit! So, after a beautiful weekend visiting Valparaíso, Cerra Santa Lucia, and the Metropolitan of Santiago, Monday had arrived, and it was back to Spanish classes at ECELA. However, Monday was the first day of our placements at the schools in Chile!
After Spanish Classes at ECELA on Monday, Karly, Dr. Schmidt, and I met up with our friend Benjamín (He was one of the students from Universidad Mayor that came to Buffalo in January) at the metro station to visit the school, Colegio República de Siria for our placements. I was a little nervous going to this placement because this class was a first-grade classroom and I have been in high school classrooms since I’m going to be teaching math in secondary schools. However, I was able to jump right in and worked with the students. This week is English Week at the school, so the students were practicing their English, by singing songs that are popular in the United States. Never would I have thought I would be singing Justin Beiber, Queen, Rihanna, Bon Jovi, The Spice Girls and Backstreet Boys in one setting, especially with forty-five first graders! The students were broken into different groups and each group were assigned a certain song to sing. Benjamín had Karly and I take each group outside the classroom to practice the song with the students. If you know me, I’m not afraid to sing karaoke, but only for rock songs. Although I have heard the songs before, I was not familiar with the lyrics and the beat to the song (Except I knew the songs by Queen, Backstreet Boys, and Spice Girls really well.) So, I was a little nervous singing a song I’m not really familiar with to the students, but the students were just so excited to work with Karly and I, that the nerves went away quickly, and I began to have fun singing with them, even if I sang the song off beat. What I also found entertaining but also kind of scary, was seeing our friend Benjamin go from the fun, sarcastic, always laughing Benjamín that we know into teacher mode. I wonder if I will be like that when I start teaching full-time (ha-ha).
On Tuesday, I had my second placement at Colegio Saint Maurice with Krista, and I will never forget this day. We were staying for the day and the lead teacher let us take over her all of her classes, where I taught two sixth grade classes, which gave me the opportunity to put one of my instructional activities into use. Since I was placed in an English class (just like any of the foreign language classes in the United States), I decided to use the activity that I created called “What Shape am I?”. For this activity, I handed out mini white boards with markers and erasers for the students to use and provided a word bank that had various geometric shapes with their names in English and in Spanish. The goal for this activity is for me to give the description of a shape (in English) and the students will write the name and draw the correct shape on the whiteboard, using the word bank. At first, I was nervous because I was not sure how the students would react to this activity and because this was the first time, I have led an actual class with real students. However, the students really did well with the activity as they were actively participating and having fun! My favorite part was when I showed the students the difference between a rhombus and a square and the difference between a square and a parallelogram. The students were so fascinated, that they were able to grasp the concepts with ease when I drew a picture of all four quadrilaterals. I even taught them how to say parallelogram since they were so determined to learn!
After the geometry lesson, Krista and I did a presentation about the United States, but we mainly talked about Buffalo. However, we showed the same presentation to the two 6th grade classes and a 5th and 8th grade class. In the presentation, we talked about where Buffalo was located, the weather, the major snowstorms that we have had (they freaked out when they saw the amount of snow from our personal pictures of the Snowvember storm in 2014), Niagara Falls, the sports team (we taught them the chant that we use during the Bills and Sabres games and they shared with us their chant during the soccer games), and the famous food. After the presentation, we saved time for students to ask us questions about the United States, Buffalo, and us! The students were so interested in learning about Krista and I, what we do, and our interests. In fact, during the last class we taught, which was the 5th grade class, there was a student who asked me if I like K-Pop. I knew that K-Pop was starting to get big in the Americas, but I didn’t know how big it was in Chile until I told them that I was a big K-Pop fan. That’s when the students swarmed me with lots questions as we shared our mutual love for K-Pop. After class ended, the students did not want to leave the classroom as they wanted to learn more math from me. I was told by the students and even the teacher that my math lesson was the best and most fun in a math class! I could hardly believe it, but I was so humbled by that compliment as it showed me that I do have knack for teaching.
Having this opportunity was a very humbling but amazing, and I will forever cherish this day! It was a great experience and an awesome way to practice with language learners! I mean who can say that their first time teaching a lesson is at a school in a foreign country? This day really showed me that being an educator is my true calling and I am so proud to take part in a program that allows me to practice teaching.
Wow, I can’t believe a week has already gone by! It has been a very busy but rewarding week for me in Chile. Since my last post, I have eaten more delicious foods, felt more comfortable and confident speaking in Spanish in my classes and outside of ECELA, spent a whole day at Valparaíso, and I had a wonderful opportunity to talk with students from Universidad Mayor.
On Thursday and Friday, my classmates and I had the opportunity to participate in two meetings that the conversation club at Universidad Mayor. This club provides a place for students from the college but also local high school students and even adults to practice speaking in English for free! The students that run the program provide different activities each meeting that encourages students to talk with one another in English. The first meeting we went to, it was just my classmates and teachers, and two students from the university that help run the club, but that was because a lot of students were taking tests or studying for a major test during that time. Even with just us attending, I learned a lot about the club and their mission. What was even more cool about this club is that the US Embassy is the sponsors it and they give out certificates to participants who attend to a certain number of meetings. My classmates and I were so amazed how successful this club is, that we want to start a conversation club at Buffalo State when we get back, however it would be to help students practice their Spanish. However, on when we attended on Friday, there was a bigger turnout. Quite a few students from some of the high schools nearby and a couple students from the campus attended. We played two games, the first game was speed dating and the second was “Two Truths and One Lie”. Both games really encourage everyone to converse with each other in English, but in a fun way that by the time the event was over, nobody wanted to leave. I really see this club is going to do very well with each meeting and year that progress.
Another opportunity I was able to participate in, was attending to a math education class at Universidad Mayor. In this class, the students were broken up into different groups and they worked on writing a math lesson plan for students from first through fifth grade. In this case, none of the students and the professor spoke English, but a friend that I made help translate for me but also helped me communicate with everyone. However, there were times I was able to understand what the students and teacher were saying, and I could talk to them in Spanish! What made the opportunity more special, was the fact that the students would ask me for suggestions such as ideas for activities, questions to ask their students, and more. Although, I will be teaching mathematics in middle or high schools, I was able to give ideas and help contribute to their lesson plans. I felt so honored that I could exchange ideas with other future math teachers from a different country, but also feel so humble. For example, one group were writing a lesson plan to teach first grade students to tell time from an analog clock. I gave them the idea to split the classroom in half, where one side will represent AM and the other side will represent PM. The teacher will draw a clock onto the floor or use tape for create the clock and the students will lay in the middle of the clock and use their upper body as the hour hand and their legs as the minute hand. The teacher will give the students on the floor, a specific time and they will show that time using their body while the rest of the students will write down the time that is being repreented. Having this moment with the students, was really the highlight of my day and something I will cherish for the rest of my existence.
Being in Chile and taking part in all the activities so far has been a very humbling experience for me and I’m just so grateful Dr. del Prado, Dr. Schmidt, and Dr. Patti for accepting me into the IPDS program. I am learning so much every single day about the culture, history, and education system in Chile, that I cannot wait to use some of the strategies I observed for my teaching in the future and to encourage mathematics education students to partake in the next IPDS Chile or any of the IPDS programs.
P.S. Enjoy this video of me salsa dancing at ECELA!
It’s been three days since we’ve arrived in Chile and everything has been going very well. I am doing really well in my Spanish classes, so well that I am more comfortable communicating with others in Spanish. I’m hoping when we get back to Buffalo, that I will keep up with the language so I won’t forget but also become fluent so that in the future, I can communicate with Spanish speaking language learners.
Within the last three days, my classmates and I visited Universidad Mayor and within those visits, I have learned so much about the education system in Chile and how many similarities we have with each other when it comes to education. What was even more rich about this experience, was actually engaging with the UMayor students about teaching whether it was discussing about the similarities and differences, difficulties we teachers face as teachers, and sharing some new strategies to try out. Engaging with the UMayor students really demonstrated teacher collaboration, which is beautiful but also a great way to add more tools to our pockets.
Today we had visited UMayor and my classmates and I gave a presentation about Education in the United States, which talked included the type of schools, subject areas, specific requirements teachers need to have in order to teach, exceptional education and new ideas and techniques. It was so cool to see that the Universidad Mayor students were really watching us, writing down notes, and even asking us our opinions or suggestions on certain topics on teaching and education. I really felt that I gave some solid advice to these teacher candidates and it made me feel so official, that I could contribute like this. All in all, I really felt good about the presentation and the tools we were able to offer to the future teachers in Chile and the professors of UMayor.
As I mentioned before, I am a foodie and as a foodie, I must try new foods and beverages. So, on Monday, ECELA prepared beef and vegetarian empanadas…and boy, were they delicious. I had the beef empanadas and the crust was so flaky and buttery. There was the perfect ratio of eggs and olives and the meat was perfectly seasoned, the whole empanada was just perfection. That same night, some of our Chilean friends that had visited us in Buffalo, took us around the area. We were supposed to visit Cerra San Cristobal (San Cristobal Hill), but the “ski lift”, to take us to the top of the mountain, was closed. However, our friends took us to a restaurant where we shared these fries that had cheese, beef, fried eggs, fried onions, and I believe sour cream. They were so delicious, that I think we all ordered three platters of these fries to share. I also ordered shrimp and salmon ceviche, which was incredible! We also ordered drinks, where I had tried Pisco Sour, which is a Chilean classic. On Tuesday after ECELA, we went to a small outdoors restaurant called El Domino, where my classmates and I had our first completos (which are another Chilean popular dish). A complete is basically a hotdog in a bun and toped with various of toppings that you can think of. I had the completo italiano, which was topped with lots of chopped tomatos, avocado, and mayonnaise. I was a little nervous about the mayonnaise since I don’t like the taste of it on hotdogs, but their mayonnaise is much different compare to ours and it went well with the avocados and tomatoes. The flavors together were amazing and if I were to see this on any menu in the United States, I would not hesitate to buy one, ha-ha. Today’s meals were consisted with eating sopaipillas, a Mediterranean panini, and shrimp quesadillas. The ECELA had cooked us some sopaipillas which we ate during the break between classes. These sopaipillas were different from the ones we had at the Bavarian restaurant we went to the day we arrived. They were bigger and flakier, but equal in taste. After ECELA and after our presentation at UMayor, my classmates and I went to restobar with some of the UMayor students that attended to our presentation. There, we had ordered a few big pitchers of El terremoto (which translates to earthquake) for us to share between us all. El terremoto is a Chilean mix drink that has wine, pineapple ice cream, and syrup. It was sweet, but delicious, just like how our friend described. While we ate and drank, we also listened to Reggaeton music and danced! We had a blast just being together and experiencing the Chilean culture with our new and old Chilean friends.
I am having an amazing time here in Chile that I do not want to ever leave ha-ha. I am having fun learning a lot of things related and not related to education, being with my classmates, program leaders, and our peers from UMayor and ECELA. I really hope that everyone in that are in secondary education program, will think about applying to this IPDS program or any of the IPDS program, because this trip has been such a great experience all around.
The time has come and now I am in Chile!! I can’t believe that I am actually here and that this is not a dream. The day before, it had really hit me that I was leaving the next morning that I became super anxious and could not sleep for the life of me. As I mentioned in the last blog, I was really nervous about flying since this would be my first time on a plane (at least that I can remember) and I was just hoping that everything would go without any hiccups. Now that I am in Chile, I have to say that all my worrying was for nothing. I found out that I really enjoy flying and that I felt like a frequent flyer by the time I got on the second and third flight. Since I have gotten over my fear of flying, I am already, mentally, preparing for my next flight to Chile or another Spanish speaking country, ha-ha.
So, I have been in Chile for almost twenty-four hours (we landed around 3:15 AM), and it so far it has been everything I expected and more! I saw a bunch of colorful street art that were just absolutely gorgeous, and all the buildings, including the vacated ones, held so much charm. When I arrived at my temporary, I was welcomed with so much love from my host family and their two dogs and cat. My mamá prepared café con leche and breakfast for me and my roommate/classmate, Krista, while we sat in the dining room talking and getting to know each other. Before the trip, Dr. del Prado and Dr. Schmidt had told us that our host family were instructed to talk to us only in Spanish so that we can practice speaking the language during our stay. So, when my mamá began speaking to Krista and I in Spanish right off the bat, I felt overwhelmed at first, but throughout the day I had started to remember a lot of Spanish language that I had forgotten and was able to communicate with her with ease and help translate for Krista. It has been a long time since I have spoken in Spanish, so I am very grateful that our host mom has been very patient but supportive of me trying to communicate with her.
After breakfast, I went into my room to take a power nap before meeting back up with my classmates and professors. We had gone to the metro station to purchase our BIP cards (metro passes) and then we grabbed some lunch at Bavarian. The food at the restaurant was very tasty and they served in large portions. As a foodie, I was surprised how quickly I got full and I did not even eat half of my meal, but then I remembered that my mama had made us breakfast earlier. We were also served sopaipillas with pebre, which is a traditional Chilean flat bread and pebre is pretty much a Chilean pico de gallo. Although, I had sopaipillas with pebre, when the Chilean students came to visit Buffalo, it was very exciting to actually eat them in Chile.
Once we finished eating lunch and we all had gone back to our Chilean home and took another nap since we all were exhausted after spending all day Saturday flying. However, I ended up meeting with one of the Chilean students that visited us in Buffalo, and we walked down the street to get coffee at Starbucks and get caught up with each other’s lives since the last time we saw each other. It was so nice to see her again and hear about her busy life as a full-time teacher and a graduate student, I am so happy for her. This is one of the things I’m grateful about IPDS Chile, we already have friends in the country before arriving.
After my coffee date, I went back home to eat dinner with Krista and my host mom. She cooked lentils with garlic, onions, and pumpkins and we had a salad on the side dressed with olive oil and freshly squeezed lemon juice. Some may say that this dish is simple, and while that may be true, it was very flavorful! While we ate dinner, we conversed more in Spanish, which I’m very comfortable speaking with her at this point. We shared lots of laughs together as we talked and that really made the dinner more special as it felt like a family dinner that I have at home with my parents.
All in all, my first day in Chile has been very successful and I cannot wait to see what is in store for me starting tomorrow. Well it is now 11:08 PM and I should get some sleep now, since my classmates and I have a busy agenda ahead of us! Until my next post, buenas noches!
As of today, there are only than 17 days left until I leave for Chile and I am feeling a range of emotions. First and foremost, I am beyond excited to be traveling abroad for the very first time. I have been very fortunate to be selected to participate in the IPDS Chile program. I have wanted to do this when I first heard about the program during my first semester at Buffalo State, when I attended the PDS Teacher Tailgate and the PDS Conference of fall 2017. I’m so passionate about teaching that I want to learn everything I can, to not only look good on record when I apply for a teaching position, but to be the best teacher I can be. And I believe that participating in this program can help me with that. What makes this experience so special to me, is that I am the first student in the Mathematics Education major to participate in the IPDS Chile program and to me, I feel like I’m the trailblazer for all the students in math education major, but also the ambassadors for those who want to participate in any of the IPDS program. I take pride in this, as I want to bring more publicity to the mathematics department.
Another emotion that I am feeling is anxiety. This will be the first time I have traveled outside of the United States and Canada as well as this will be my first time flying! I usually travel around the country and in Canada by driving or riding with my family or friends, which I love doing. But flying makes me feel a little uneasy, but I’m not letting that stop me from going to a new foreign country. Besides, my fellow IPDS Chile classmates are my friends and we are all traveling together, so that makes me feel less nervous. I also feel anxious because this will be the longest time I will be away from home. I usually do not get home sick, unless I am missing my parents (I live in a different state than them), but I have a feeling that I may get homesick somewhere in the middle of the trip. However, I have my classmates, the program leaders, and my Chilean friends (they visited Buffalo for three weeks at the beginning of the semester) to be there for me.
When I told my colleagues, friends, and family about the IPDS Chile program and what I will be doing, I always get asked, “How are you going to communicate in a country that speaks a different language?”. Although it has been almost ten years of me speaking the language, I have had taken many Spanish courses when I was in middle and high school, so I am able to speak a little above the basic level of Spanish. However, I have been able to practice my Spanish earlier in the semester when we had our Chilean visitors. So, I feel well-prepared to speak the language, as well as I continue to learn and re-learn more when I take Spanish classes during my stay.
Overall, I know that this learning experience will be a success and it will be the highlight of my summer. When I arrive back to Buffalo, I am 100% certain that I will grow as an individual and as a future math educator. The major outcomes I get out of this excursion are to see new ideas for teaching math and for teaching in general and add it to the list of strategies to use in my own teaching in the future but to also get some extra practice working with language learners. So with that, in less than 17 days…Chile, I am coming for you!
¡Bienvenido! Welcome! My name is Carmen and I am a Mathematics Education major at SUNY Buffalo State College. This will be my first experience going abroad with the school. I am beyond excited what Santiago, Chile has in store for me. Please tune in to my blogs as I share my travel experience as well as sharing another perspective of education outside of the United States!