Going into this trip, we all knew that one of the main goals was to get in to the elementary schools and teach English. Yeah they told us it was going to be a lot different here than in the United States, but I don't think I was prepared for how much I would learn in my brief time in the schools.
What was not planned was something that I believe was so beneficial and a great opportunity to do, and that is to take several classes here in one of Chile's top private University's, Universidad Mayor. For the past two days, I have been blessed with the opportunity to not only go into an elementary school here, but also to actually take a class here as a student. How awesome!
Our week started on Monday, where we took a class in all-English taught by an absolutely amazing professor, Javiera. The class was linguistics, where students learned the history of the English language, how the environment surrounding the speakers effects the context of the language, and so forth. Sitting through that class, I was beyond amazed with the caliber of English language knowledge in the classroom from both the students and the professor. All native speakers of Spanish, it was evident that they were completely fluent in the English language after just a couple years of studying, and that they most likely knew more about the language I have spoke all my life than they did. I was in amazement throughout the entirety of the classroom.
The professor, Javiera (she also traveled to Buffalo with our pen-pals in February and had the chance to talk with her, she is a wonderful human being), truly was what made the class so remarkable in my eyes. Throughout the entirety of the lesson, I focused on her teaching habits, and what exactly made her class so interesting (because God knows it is not the most interesting of topics). Everything that she said, she related it back to the student. She pulled examples of work that they have already done, talk about situations and interests of the student to help them develop a better understanding of the point that she is trying to convey. She did not speak one word of Spanish, and spoke at a high level of English, yet simplified the topic for everyone. She had a very interactive and engaging lesson, having group work and giving the students the chance to develop their own definition of a new word rather than just telling them to promote self-learning. In my eyes, the way she ran her lesson was magnificent and WELL worth every minute spent there.
Yesterday (Tuesday), not only did I have the opportunity to sit in another class at Universidad Mayor, but also was my first day in a Chilean elementary school! When I say that the schools are absolutely nothing what I pictured in my mind of an elementary school, I am not exaggerating. It was so unique to any school I have ever seen or bared witness to. The only way I can begin to describe it is apartment-like buildings in the shape of a horseshoe, and in the middle is the area for students to have recess and run around. What shocked me was that recess was for every single student of all grades at the same time, and every 90 minutes. Wow!
Walking in to the schools it just completely opened my eyes immediately to just how fortunate I was as a child growing up, with the incredible amounts of resources I was provided that I thought nothing of at the time. Coming here, I see the appreciation the students have for next to nothing resources that the schools are provided here.
When it came time to interact with the children, believe me when I say that each child left a footprint on my heart. It goes back to their culture.... the warm, loving, and appreciative attitude they have for the world and for one another. The children looked at myself and my classmates, Emma and Alexia, like we were from another planet. They all were in amazement, so grateful that students from the United States were there with them to help them learn.
I am so excited to work with these students for the rest of the week!! For now, chao!
Hello everyone! My name is Christine Doherty and I am an undergraduate student attending Buffalo State College pursuing a degree in Special Education, as well as certification in Elementary Education and a minor in Spanish.