In every visit we got interviewed by the students, they all practiced asking us questions like:How old are you?
Do you have any brothers or sisters?
What’s your favorite color, food, animal and so on…
It was a great way for the students to practice using their English with native English speakers.
That being said there were two observations that stood out the most to me. In one of the classrooms we helped the students with an English song they had been practicing for English week. We got to take our small group of students outside and really work on their pronunciation. I had so much fun having the girls repeat the line or phrase in the song until they got it just right, then we took it to the next level by adding the dramatic sass just like the song. Spice Girls – Wannabe has the most attitude so by replicating that with the students I think it really helped it stick with them in a exciting way.
In my last observation I found away for the materials I made to work within the lesson the teacher was giving. We played Bingo! I made bingo boards for each student that were laminated so they could be reused, and there were laminated pictures of animals that matched up the names of the animals on the boards. These worked perfectly for the lesson on english animal names. The students actively and competitively listened for the next animal each time. They got so excited calling out bingo and after a few false alarms we had a tie for 1st and 2nd place. It’s a simple memory that I’ll always have. My first ever lesson in another country is pretty unforgettable.
Professionally I’ve gained confidence in traveling abroad. It has allowed me to push myself to be open to new experiences. Handling those new situations was all a part of the process. In the best way it forced me to creatively think outside the norm, specifically when it came to communication. I was first hand experiencing what it is to be a new language learner. Cultural understanding played a role in my comprehension; it shed light on phrases or sayings and assisted me when trying to understand conversation. The Spanish spoken in Chile was fast, and one of my teachers admitted they shorten words or have Chilean only words, which required me listen in that much more intently. That small piece of information is a great reminder to speak slowly and clearly, provide text when necessary so all students have the chance to understand you. So I need to remember always how it felt to be confused and need clarification.
As a teacher always embrace others. Diversity is important. Learning about other cultures is a way to bring multiple groups together. Maybe it’s even away to get parents and students working together to learn collaboratively outside the classroom. By valuing the student’s cultural heritage you show respect for not just the student but the family.
Photos are worth more than can be said, I will create a photo book for this trip and I promise myself to look at that on the tough days. On the days or weeks where nothing I do feels like its working or when I’m at a loss for energy, I want to remember how it felt to be a rock star when we visited the schools in Chile. I want to remember the countless hugs and thank you’s we received. Blogging over the past month has reopened my desire to experience more and more, I want to bring new prospective to my future classroom. Remembering always: I’m cut out for this career, I’m capable of being a teacher who relates and pushes students to learn, and I’m able to change students lives.
Use all space. We went into classrooms where space wasn’t an option but making the most out of spaces is. To address the needs of my linguistically diverse background I would provide translations where I label things in the classroom to allow for continuous learning moments.
When it came to making each student feel welcomed I observed one of the Chilean teachers hug, handshake or high five each student as they entered the class. I think that’s the perfect check in moment. It helps get a feel for the mood of the class and quickly address any issues.
I want to create a learning environment that fills all space and time with learning. Having tricks up my sleeve for gaining the students attention will be a tool I use forever. The Chilean classrooms are filled with a lot of students so we saw how quick the teacher had to act to redirect attention and gain the focus of the children.
A huge difference is the fact the Chilean students have more breaks in the day. Providing even 5-minute breaks could benefit the whole class. Dancing to a song or just a relax session might help in an active classroom be productive learners. It’s defiantly something I’d like to try and make part of my future classroom.
Things I’m happy I had with me!
*Heating pad was soooo necessary the homes were much colder then we are used to. I was happy with the shoes I brought we did a lot of walking so its important to have comfort over fashion. I probably could have got away with a pair of booties, tennis shoes, and if you plan to hike a lightweight hiking shoe over the rain boots I brought would have been ideal. Packing my materials in my checked bag and bring my duffle folded along with my carry on and back pack gave me so much extra room on the way home for unique things to bring back.
Things I wished I hadn’t brought.
I ended up bringing two skirts and three dresses I wore two of the dresses. If your thinking “oh ill change into this before we go out” there usually wasn’t time or we just didn’t go home before we went to dinner with our friends so skip the extra stuff.
Things I wish I had and didn’t
A self filtering water bottle is something I really would have looked more into getting, I felt so guilty buying plastic throw away bottles everyday ( I drink a lot of water normally) the water just had a very strong mineral taste to me and I wasn’t able to drink it. Hiking shoes... so for a 6 hour hike rain boats do not work. The hiking in Chile is nothing like I’ve ever done it was worth it completely my feet just hated me for it!
Meds ... not that you need everything but I would recommend Tylenol, something that would help with diarrhea or upset stomach, and some cold flu sinus meds. Only because trying to get medication there was interesting. I kept being offered a tea packet meds and I personally can’t take liquid meds !
If you are old enough to buy Pisco do it while on Chile and put it in your checked bag, don’t try to by at the airport because if you have a connecting flight they won’t let you through security with it ! So put it in your checked bag.
I found it much easier to use the ATM in Chile to take out Chilean pesos, I would recommend taking out the maximum amount when you first get there ( you'll end up going through it I promise).
I personally do get cold in winter however I had a medium weight jacket that was a little longer and with a layer or two under that I was never cold cold.
Bring a couple scarfs or pick some up at a market in Chile ( they had so many for really cheap) it will help you feel fashionable, because while I wasn't cold the homes aren't heated the way they are here in the US, so when I look back on photos inside or outside I'm always in my black jacket and black scarf !
The relationships that we have created through this exchange have been so meaningful. I came to Chile knowing I had friends and that little piece of information was of all the comfort I needed. The students we have met while UMayor have been so kind to us, taking time out of their busy schedules to be with us. The professors at Buffalo State and University Mayor have guided this connection beautifully, through our common ground of seeking to become educators we found many similarities in our struggles and triumphs on the road to being a teacher.
Through this program we were able to share some of our favorite things in Buffalo, open our homes and finest cooking to the students of university mayor. That same warm feeling has been replicated twice over here in Chile. From student guided Tours full of historical facts to personal translating our friends have helped us learn so much more of their Chilean culture. Our Chile friends, no I should say our Chilean family has opened their homes and hearts to us sharing food, drinks and above all friendship, that’s something I will forever be grateful for.
The Value of travel and study abroad
My thoughts: Reflecting on being here in Chile in this moment is the first time I feel myself letting my guard down. I’ve been being aware of my surrounds, gripping my phone and wallet tight in my pocket where ever I walk, double checking the itinerary, checking in with family, going to meetings/class, experiencing as much as I can take in but right now I’m sharing why I choose to do all this.
My past experience: In my undergrad a representative of the IPDS program came to my class, gave a brief talk about what this program is and where you can apply to sign up. He had a hand full of colorful flyers but Santiago Chile just stood out to me so much. So I grabbed a flyer and did all the basic “googling”, places to see, what foods are popular, flights cost. I found myself feeling overwhelmed on the sticker price, it felt impossible to afford while being a full time in school working two part-time jobs and being a student athlete. So I just forgot about it.
Why/Not this time: I was given a second chance to be apart of this opportunity in graduate school and I couldn’t let it go by again. Handing in an application by the due date was the only mission I had, I couldn’t let myself regret no trying to get in the program. Since being accepted not once have I felt any sense of regret while participating in IPDS Chile.
Since my dream is to teach students from various languages and backgrounds how could I not put myself in the shoes of a language learner? How can being more culturally aware not help me in any life situation even outside the classroom? From this prospective it’s easy to understand how much perfect sense this opportunity means to not just a future teacher but as a person. I hope what I learn here will help me be better prepared for the classroom.
If you are on the fence here is some true gathered advice/ inspiration/ things everyone and their mother’s say:
“do it while your young”
“ you have no real big responsibilities, travel”
“you have your whole life to make money”
“Travel, because money returns. Time doesn’t.” unknown
“If we were meant to stay in one place we’d have roots instead of feet.” Rachel Wolchin
I think if you are even questioning if you want to study aboard or go aboard just take advantage of that opportunity. I do believe I will have the rest of my life to work so I may as well gain some tools to set me apart from the competition. Traveling can be stressful, take the situations you have aboard and learn from them. Learn as much as you can about other cultures and experience them for yourself not based off what others say.
My expectations are completely exceeded! ECELA brings so much passion and enthusiasm to learning a new language. My teacher has from the very first day of class created an environment that is interactive and fun (Literally, my cheeks hurt from smiling so much). We are given many opportunities to participate in learning Spanish including: responding to questions, asking each other questions, and of course listening to Spanish speakers. The teacher is providing immediate feedback in the form of praise, finally have something like your pronunciation click or use that new vocabulary word.
The way the teacher I have has gotten things to click is not what you might expect but it works, for example, the teacher was trying to teach us the Chilean word for boyfriend/ girlfriend, “pololo (a)”, which has different meaning from “novio (a)” a word we learned in the past however to teach us the difference he told us to wait as he began to dig in his pockets for his phone, again telling us to wait he scrolled through the phone. He finally found the right song and he had us pretend we were out at a bar interacting with other people. He pretended to be a bachelor trying to find out if the person was single, asking common questions like what’s your name, where are you from, etc. when he noticed there wasn’t a wedding/engagement ring he then asked if there was a boyfriend or girlfriend in the picture. As a class we were engaged the whole time wondering what would happen next, we all laughed and enjoyed the moment. I know I will not forget that a “pololo(a)” is a boyfriend or girlfriend and “novio(a)” is used when someone is to be engaged to be married. It was through this role playing that the meaning clicked for the whole class.
This Spanish class is forcing me in the best way to step outside that zone of comfort to become a language learner. Building this sense of ease in class is something I hope to bring to my future students. To teach a language I can feel and see how import ant it is to make students feel empowered. Our teacher shared with us his attitude towards learning, he said, “the process is like a game, have fun”. This attitude is vital for promote making mistakes and taking chances in the classroom.
So far this has been one of the most overwhelming parts of preparing for the trip. With that being said we just completed a great lesson on what to bring and what not to bring. Over packing is often people’s biggest mistake and I know myself to be guilty of seriously over packing or totally under packing (ex. completely forgetting undies and socks!). The video we watched as a class really broke things down and made me need to research a little more on what I should bring with me. Naturally this means I was up past midnight searching Pinterest and reading other travel blogs for good advice. Some of the mentionable tips include the following:
Backpack/ Carry-on include: passport, copies of passport, money, credit cards, health insurance, flight info, Go-Pro, adapter, chargers, additional plug in space, computer, pen, small notebook, medications, tooth brush and paste, one change of clothes, wrap, gloves, hat, scarf, makeup, hair brush all remaining clothing*
I planned to have free space in my rolling carry-on just in case. I picked out things that could be used during travel to warm up and reversely the extra space allows me to shed layers putting them away in the carry without a huge struggle. This will be great considering my plan is to wear my heaviest most bulky items on the flight; it gives me the option to pack them away safely without losing anything during travel.
Duffle/ Checked bag include: all instructional materials, heating pad, most of my clothes, thank you gifts, shampoo, conditioner, face wash, soap, tennis shoes, booties, and a pair of fancy-ish boots.
I was able to combined my duffle of instructional materials with my clothes into one large checked bag and stay under the 50LB limit. Now that the packing is complete I've made sure to avoid as much extra weight on my shoulders before travel as possible.Traveling can become stressful so I enjoy doing things early it allow me the room to get those last minute items I may need. I'm resting easy knowing in 17 days I'll be on my way to Chile and in the next two week here at home I'll make sure to spend time with family and friends before I leave.
See you soon Santiago!