It has been about two and a half weeks since our return to the States and I’ve been keeping busy working at a summer camp. By now I’m sure all of the other counselors are tired of me starting many sentences with “One time in Chile…” There are times when I can’t believe that I actually spent three weeks in Chile because one night I was sleeping in my apartment above the Subway on Providencia and the next I was sleeping in a dorm room in South Wales.
There are many things I miss about Chile such as eating empanadas almost every day, making frequent stops to Bravissimo for ice cream, freshly squeezed juice that is cheap and easy to find, choripán (Chilean sausage) with pebre (salsa), sushi and fresh seafood, and sopaipillas. I miss walking out of my apartment and smelling the bread from Subway and the incredible dinners my host mom made every night.
Most importantly, I miss the people who made this trip so special like the Universidad Mayor students and faculty, my teachers and fellow students at ECELA, my roommates, the IPDS Chile cohort, and especially the 2019 Buffalo delegation from UM who took amazing care of us during our time in Santiago.
I think that in three weeks I grew a lot as a person and it is important for people to travel and expose themselves to cultures different than their own. This experience has definitely made me more flexible and openminded. I am already making plans for my next trip to Chile and in the meantime I hope to learn more Spanish!
I would urge all teacher candidates to participate in an IPDS trip. There is no reason not to because there are many scholarships that can make it very affordable. Life is too short to make up excuses. Going to Chile was the greatest thing I’ve ever done and it changed my life for the better.
Thank you Buffalo State College and IPDS for giving me the opportunity of a lifetime and Dr. del Prado, Dr. Schmidt, and Dr. Patti for organizing an incredible trip and taking care of us while abroad. I’m incredibly grateful for the scholarship donors who believed in me and the impact of this experience on my life. Thanks Dr. Shively, Mrs. George, Dr. Julie Henry, and Dr. Amy McMillan for filling out scholarship recommendation forms for me! Also thanks, Tamara, for taking care of all of the paperwork for us!
Finally, thank you to all of the people who followed me on this journey by reading and commenting on my blogs.
Onto my next great adventure… IPDS Italy!
Addio per ora :-)
For our final week in Chile we visited the elementary schools again. I went back to República de Siria with Ben and Benjamín Vicuña Mackenna with Daniela. Our last field placement was cancelled because the teachers in that school were on strike. When the teachers are on strike they send a notice home to the parents to let them know ahead of time that there will be no school that day and to make other arrangements. This happens fairly often because teachers are unhappy with the working conditions and changes to the curriculum. One hot topic right now is that history and physical education are being taken out of the high school curriculum and made electives. In addition our friend Fernanda calculated that in USD teachers in Chilean public schools make about $13,000 per year. The teachers also have to work much longer hours because the school days may not end until 4:30 or 5. The teachers in Chile earn less than you could earn working full time at McDonalds here in the States!
On Thursday we had a farewell gathering at U Mayor. Many of the students who went to Buffalo were there as well as some students we met over the course of the trip. Some U Mayor faculty were also there. It was a full room and there weren’t enough seats for everyone. We talked about our experiences in Chile and what we will miss the most. Then the students who helped with our visit were given a gift from the English Pedagogy program and everyone in our cohort received a poster of the different regions of Chile. I am going to get it framed!
As a surprise the U Mayor students made a PowerPoint presentation to music with pictures from our trip. I was tearing up watching it. I am so incredibly thankful for the partnership we have with U Mayor. The relationships we created with the students there was the greatest part of the trip. I look forward to being friends for many years to come and hopefully seeing them again soon! A few of the U Mayor students were talking about coming to the states for NAPDS in February. I hope that works out because I would love a reunion!
After the meeting we went to Tiare’s house. It took us an hour and a half to get there by public transportation, but it was well worth it because she has a beautiful home and her mother made us a lot of different food. Her mother was so sweet and kind to us! It was also great to get together for one last hoorah!
On Friday we had our last day at ECELA where we received our certificates. Then Abby, Karly, Krista, Krista’s daughter Lianne, and I went horseback riding in the Andes. I had never ridden a horse alone before but it was a lot of fun. When we got to the top of the mountain there was a barbeque waiting for us. They had choripan (Chilean sausage), chicken wings, steak, grilled veggies, corn, and rice. The food was amazing and the views were spectacular. We rode our horses down the hill in the pitch black. The guides said that we had to trust our horses. The horse was literally my ride or die! ;-) Horseback riding was definitely my favorite excursion on the whole trip.
On Saturday, our last day in Chile, we went to San Cristobal Hill with Ben, Fernanda, and Paul. At the top of the hill is a giant statue of the Virgin Mary and a view of the whole city. We took a cable car up and down. Unfortunately the air was a bit hazy because of the smog, but it was a must do while we were still in Santiago!
We got picked up from our apartment at 7 PM and headed to the airport. We had three flights again. The first to Lima, Peru, the second to Panama City, Panama, and the last to Toronto. Our layover in Panama City was ten hours long so Dr. del Prado found someone to give us a driving tour of the city. We were able to see different places and it was a relaxing thing to do because we were all very tired!
I can’t believe these incredible three weeks in Chile are over! In my next blog post I will reflect on my experiences as a whole now that I am home in Buffalo.
On Sunday we went trekking in the Andes Mountains. I didn’t think anything of it because I would consider myself to be in decent shape despite the fact that Catalyst Fitness takes my $20 every month and I haven’t gone since January! People who did the trek before told us to wear many layers because it gets cold in the mountains. I wore leggings, jeans, sweatpants, a t-shirt, sweater, sweatshirt, light jacket, heavy jacket, hat, scarf, gloves, two pairs of socks, and hiking boots.
The van left from ECELA at 7:30 in the morning. It was Karly, Kayla, Dr. del Prado, and I with a group of students from the air force academy in Colorado Springs and three guides. One of the guides asked us if we ever went hiking before because the hike we were going to do was considered intermediate. I said no because I didn’t think the Eternal Flame at Chestnut Ridge counted! ;-)
After an hour and a half drive we all got out of the van and loaded our backpacks up with different snacks. The guide told us to only wear a light jacket and put the rest of our clothes in our backpacks for later. None of us listened to him because it was very cold outside and we assumed that he was accustomed to the cold weather because he was an experienced hiker.
I was sweating so much that I had to take off my jeans, heavy jacket, sweatshirt, sweater, hat, gloves, and scarf. My backpack was so full that Dr. del Prado carried my jeans in hers! The hike was definitely a workout. It was funny because the people from the air force academy were having conversations during the trek and Karly, Kayla, and I were out of breath. They said that they hike often because the school is in Colorado and it is a part of their training. That made us feel a little better!
We got to our destination after three hours of hiking and taking short breaks. The landscape changed as we went up the mountain. It was an incredible view because we had cacti in front of us with snowcapped mountains behind them! Hiking in the Andes mountains is something I never thought I would do and it was quite the experience. Be sure to check out my photos at the end of this blog post.
The descent down the hill was the worst part of all because it was so steep that my toes were pushing forward in my hiking boots. At one point I started slipping and I reached out to grab something. I ended up putting my hand right on a cactus! Ouch!
After the trek we all rewarded ourselves by going to a restaurant for empanadas. You know I love my empanadas.
It was all totally worth it!
On Saturday we had plans to go trekking in the Andes Mountains, but it was rescheduled to Sunday because of the weather. Ben and I decided to take the opportunity to go to San Antonio to see his family. Prior to leaving Dr. del Prado gave me advice for interacting with Chilean families. She told me that I have to greet everyone individually when I come in and when I leave. In Chile people greet one another by touching their right cheek to the other person’s right cheek and making a kissing noise. I’m glad that Dr. del Prado told me this because in my family we greet everyone by saying hello and waving to the group as a whole.
Ben and I arrived to his mother’s house at 11:30 and she had dinner waiting for us. It was a bean soup, called “porotos” and fried empanadas with ham, cheese, and tomato. The empanadas were the BEST empanadas I had on the entire trip and believe me; I’ve eaten MANY empanadas in the last few weeks.
Ben is the only one in his immediate family who speaks English. I was able to speak a little to Ben’s mother, Myriam, in Spanish. She was very sweet and she spoke slowly so I could understand. Ben translated anything I was unsure of. He said that I knew more Spanish than he thought I did. The reason being that I’ve never had to speak Spanish in front of him because he speaks perfect English!
The next morning we had a traditional Chilean breakfast of a roll with butter, mozzarella cheese, and ham or salami and headed out to see Ben’s sister. San Antonio is very different than Santiago. People live in houses rather than apartments and everything is close by. Ben’s mom asked us to go to the store to get yogurt and I got all bundled up to only walk two minutes to the store!
We got to Ben’s sister, Leyla’s house where I met her, her husband, and their four year old daughter, Dominga. Dominga sang me a song about the colors in English. It’s safe to say that I was very impressed! :-)
Then we met the rest of Ben’s family for lunch. I met Ben’s dad, Marcus, his other two sisters, Jessica and Miriam, his other two nieces, Emilia and Florence, and his younger brother Luciano. We had “Charquican” for lunch, which is another traditional Chilean meal. It consists of beef, potatoes, corn, carrots, and peas with a fried egg on top. It was delicious. Then we had empanadas. They were the classic flavor, pino, which is beef, hardboiled egg, onion, and black olives. There were also different salads like celery and onion. One thing I noticed is that people in Chile will call anything a salad. For example celery salad is chopped celery with vinegar and onion salad is chopped onions with vinegar. I was very surprised when one day at ECELA they had a lunch with salad and the salad was a cut up tomato!
After lunch we went with Ben’s dad and brother to his grandma’s house. It was a short drive down the street and when we walked in Ben’s cousins, aunts, and uncle were gathered around the TV watching the Chile soccer match. Soccer is a huge part of Chilean culture. Ben said that every Saturday his family gets together at his grandma’s house like they did that day, usually for either breakfast or lunch. That happens in big families.
Lastly, Ben’s father took us for a ride to the beach. Rather than sand the beach had big stones as a result of an earthquake and tsunami a few years ago (February 27th, 2010). People do not swim there, but I would love to come back to enjoy a walk there in the summer!
When it was time to leave we returned to Ben’s mother’s house to get our things and Ben’s mother gave me two silver bracelets as a gift. She said that she never had a daughter and she wanted me to have something made out of silver because it is much less expensive in Chile than it is in the United States. I was touched by her kind gesture!
Overall I am so grateful for the opportunity to meet Ben’s parents and the way they embraced me despite the language barrier. I can’t wait to come back to Chile again soon and hopefully next time I will be able to speak more Spanish!
We started our second week of the trip by going to Santa Lucia Hill, La Moneda, and the Central Market with Paul, Fernanda, and Rosa. Paul and Fernanda are our friends from the U Mayor delegation that came to Buffalo in February and Rosa is the faculty member from the English Pedagogy program who came with them! First we went to Santa Lucia Hill which is the historical point where Santiago and, eventually, Chile began. At the top of the hill we had an amazing view of the city. Then we went to La Moneda. This is where the president of Chile works. It is similar in appearance to the White House. We ended our day by going to the Central Market for a seafood lunch. The market was similar to those in movies because there were many different kinds of fish stacked up on the counters. The food was great, but the smell… not so much!
On Monday we began our field placements in Chilean schools. I went to Benjamín Vicuña Mackenna. It is a girls only public school in the city. It is one of the few single sex public schools left in the area. The layout of the school building creates an enclosed area for the children to play during recess. In Chile students get 15 minutes of recess for every 90 minutes of instructional time. When we arrived at the school I saw students jumping rope, playing Twister and hopscotch, and playing tag. The school does not have a playground so there are different things painted on the concrete for students to use. There were not many adults supervising the children. In fact, a teacher saw Krista, Dr. del Prado, and I watching the students during recess and told us to go inside. We think that she thought we would like it better inside, but we were actually very interested in what the children were doing during recess.
Dr. del Prado, Krista, and I went to two English classes. The English teacher pushes into the classrooms for 90 minute lessons. The teacher candidate, Daniela, taught the first class (3rd grade) and the English teacher, David, taught the second class (4th grade). Daniela had the students work on practicing a dialogue about transportation. She went over a PowerPoint presentation and had the students practice the dialogue verbally and eventually they cut, organized, and pasted a dialogue in their notebooks.
On Wednesday we went to Ben’s school, República de Siria. On this day Ben was teaching 2nd graders. They were learning songs to sing for the upcoming English week. The students sang songs such as Happy by Pharrell Williams and Everybody by the Backstreet Boys. Kayla, Dr. del Prado, Ben, Ben’s mentor teacher, and I pulled small groups to practice singing the songs. We had so much fun working with the students and it was obvious that they were having fun too! I was impressed by the way Ben managed the class. I recognized some of the strategies he used to get the attention of his students like callbacks, claps, and telling the students to hold a bubble in their mouths. He told me that he got some of these strategies when he visited the Herman Badillo Bilingual Academy in Buffalo.
The major difference between schools in Chile and schools in the United States is that there are double, if not more, students in Chilean classrooms than in the United States. They can have up to 45 students with only one teacher. The teacher candidates from U Mayor were jealous when I told them that I only had 16 students in my class for my field placement in Lake Shore. I think that such a large amount of students requires the teachers to be very creative when it comes to developing activities that are fun and engaging but also maintain some sense of order in the classroom.
Another difference I noticed is that students and teachers are more affectionate towards each other in Chile. The students often swarm their teachers with hugs and give them different treats. I also saw that David (the English teacher at Benjamín Vicuña Mackenna) gave all of his students a hug and kiss on the cheek when they were leaving for the day. He said that many of his students have difficult pasts or home lives and he hopes that they feel loved and secure in his classroom. In particular, I know that a few of his students are from Venezuela. David said that he thinks of all of his students as his own daughters.
Visiting the schools was the perfect opportunity to practice my Spanish speaking skills. The students knew very little English so I had to find a way to communicate with them in Spanish as well. We all felt like celebrities at the schools because the students were very excited to meet people from the United States. They asked what we liked about Chile, if we knew Donald Trump, and our favorite foods, colors, and songs. It was fun sharing with the students!
We finished the week by going to Valentina’s house. She is another U Mayor student who went to Buffalo in February. Her mom prepared classic Chilean dishes for us such as empanadas, sopapillas, pebre, pastel de choclo, and homemade bread. Valentina’s mom thanked us all for coming and gave us all bracelets that say Chile. It was very special and I’m so thankful for the friendships we have made with the U Mayor students.
Every day in Chile is a day well spent!
Wow, long time no blog post! We are officially moving into the third week of the trip and I can’t believe how fast the time has flown by. Our schedule keeps us very busy and we are having so much fun.
I wanted to write a blog post about my experience learning Spanish in Chile because I think that I have made significant improvements since we first touched down in the country on June 2nd. It is amazing what total language immersion can do! I am also learning a lot of different strategies to use with language learners from my wonderful teachers at ECELA.
Each week ECELA switches the classes and teachers around. This week I had Javiera. The main goal of the class was to work on descriptions. She often had us talk to other people in the class and describe what they were wearing or what they looked like. I especially enjoyed Javiera’s class because she made it very engaging by using different games. One game was ¿Qué Soy? which in English means “What am I?” It is very similar to the HedBanz game or Heads Up! app where one person puts a card that has a word with the corresponding picture on it on their forehead and everyone has to give them clues as to what it is. I loved playing this game so much that I went to the mall and bought it! I want to use it in the Conversation Club that we are planning to start when we get back to Buffalo. I also think it would be a wonderful addition to my classroom someday. This game is not only great for developing conversational skills and vocabulary, but it is also a lot of fun!
Another game we played was Guess Who? This game was perfect to practice asking questions. I love the way Javiera took well known games and modified them for us as language learners. I also want to buy this game when I get back to the states!
I also practice my Spanish every day when I eat dinner with my host family. My host mother’s son and his girlfriend both agree that my Spanish has improved! It feels good to participate in the conversation even if for a little bit.
Before we left for Chile we did an online module about critical incidents which are the result of cultural differences. They can be either awkward or funny! I experienced this when we went out with the group for coffee. The server came around to take our orders and I decided not to get anything because I do not drink coffee. I quickly asked Karly what the Spanish word for nothing is and she told me it was nunca. As a result when the server got to me I said “Nunca.” She looked confused and said “Nunca?” to which I replied “¡Si!” It turns out that the word nunca actually means never. In other words, she asked me if I wanted coffee and I said NEVER! It’s a funny story and was definitely a learning experience!
Now more than ever I want to learn Spanish. I truly admire the UMayor students who can speak fluent English in addition to their native Spanish. I think that being able to speak more than one language is an incredible skill and gift. I plan to continue practicing Spanish when I get home to Buffalo and one day I hope to be fluent! I also have dreams for my future children to speak Spanish. I bought a Spanish children’s book called 1,000 Cosas. It has the seasons, colors, numbers, and other vocabulary.
Thanks for reading! ¡Hasta luego!
I can’t believe that our first week in Chile is over! These have truly been some of the greatest days of my life and there are still two more weeks to go. Each morning we go to ECELA from 9-1. Then we eat lunch and go to Universidad Mayor to attend classes and different activities. Many of the classes at UM have allowed us to engage in conversation with students about the educational system in Chile and their English pedagogy program. One thing I realized is that there are an incredible number of similarities between the United States and Chile. As someone who has never been abroad before I expected everything to be very different, but that is not the case at all. I thought that I was going to feel homesick, but it actually feels like home here. This experience has developed my intercultural competency and helped me to realize that we are much more alike than we are different.
Dr. Schmidt moved into our apartment a few days ago which has been especially helpful because she can speak Spanish to our host mother. She also helps Karly and I practice our Spanish. We love our homestay. It is a big apartment with a close walk to ECELA and UM. Our host mother hosts students in her three apartments. In our apartment we live with Dr. Schmidt, a 19 year old girl named Anna from the UK, and Marcela, the housekeeper.
On Wednesday our group from Buff State did a presentation about the educational system in the United States and ways to engage all learners. There was a great turn out! We ended up going out with some of the students who attended the presentation. We listened and danced to Spanish music which was a lot of fun. We have a schedule chock full of different things to do but what has really made the trip so far is the relationships we have made with the students at UM. It is a great feeling to see people we know as we attend classes at UM and even when we are walking down the street!
In Spanish class on Thursday our teacher took us for a walk around the neighborhood and we identified different vocabulary words. He places a big emphasis on pronunciation which is definitely something I need to improve on. During the walk my teacher went into a store and bought us all chocolate bars. He said that they are very popular in Chile. It reminded me of the strawberry and vanilla wafers they sell in the States.
On Thursday night we took a salsa dancing class at ECELA and it was a blast! Karly and I are both pretty uncoordinated, but we eventually got the hang of it. The teacher spoke in Spanish the entire time, but we could all understand what he was saying. My Spanish has improved a lot this week from taking the classes at ECELA and taking to my host mother. This trip has made me really want to learn Spanish and keep practicing when I get home to Buffalo.
We also attended a meeting for the Conversation Club at UM which is a free club run by students at the University who want to practice their English speaking skills. The students organize fun games that allow members to practice English in informal ways. For example, we did speed dating where we had to talk to a people about different topics for two minutes and two truths and a lie. The club is sponsored by the United States Embassy and members get a certificate from them at the end of the year. It is not exclusive to students in the English Pedagogy program. There are also high school students, UM students from other programs, and university faculty. Dr. del Prado and I were talking about starting a club like this at Buff State!
Last night we went to an art museum and eventually a karaoke bar. Whenever an English song came on the guy playing the music would chant “USA! USA!” and give us the microphone. We sang along to I Want It That Way by the Backstreet Boys, Sorry by Justin Bieber, and Take Me Home, Country Roads by John Denver.
Today we went to Valparaíso and Viña del Mar with ECELA. The streets of Valparaíso were much different than those in Santiago. They were narrow, cobblestone streets with many colorful houses and street art. For lunch we went to a restaurant there and had a great meal. When we sat down there was already a shot of pisco sour at all of our seats. Then we got bread, empanadas, an entre, and dessert. There was a band playing in the restaurant as well. In Viña del Mar we went to the beach where we were able to see the sunset. It was breathtaking!
That’s all for now! Thanks for reading!
It seems like not long ago I submitted my application for the IPDS Chile program and now we are finally here! I would like to give a special thanks to my parents who woke up at the crack of dawn to take us to the Toronto airport on Saturday. I would also like to thank the scholarship donors who have afforded me the trip of a lifetime!
The journey here was a long one! We had two layovers. One in Panama City, Panama and the other in Lima, Peru. I’m very grateful to have made it here safely (with all of my luggage) and I am especially grateful for Dr. del Prado because she was on all of our flights. She has a lot of experience traveling and she can speak Spanish which was incredibly helpful when it came to finding our way in the different airports.
Yesterday morning we were all dropped off at the homes of our host families. Karly and I live in an apartment complex on a busy street. It is very close to ECELA (the Spanish school) and Universidad Mayor which is especially helpful. Our host mother does not speak any English. I can usually understand certain words and get the main idea of what she is saying, but my greatest challenge is responding. I often find myself saying “si, si, si” to everything she says. This is definitely something I hope to improve on in the coming weeks! Luckily there is another student here from Wisconsin who speaks fluent Spanish. She has been helping us a lot!
Today was our first day attending classes at ECELA. We took a conversation test and I ended up being placed in the elementary level for grammar and conversation. There are four levels: basic, elementary, intermediate, and advanced. My teacher, Cristian, is amazing! He is very funny and teaches us how to ask questions and answer them. He also teaches us a lot of vocabulary. One word I learned in class today is pololo/polola which is a Chilean slang word for boyfriend/girlfriend. Cristian said that it is an important word to know because people may ask if you have a boyfriend or girlfriend when you go out.
Each class at ECELA only has a few people in it. My conversation class has five people and my grammar class has three people. This allows for many opportunities to participate and get to know the other people in the class. It's been very cool to meet people from many different countries and places in the United States!
After ECELA we went to Universidad Mayor where we met up with some of our Chilean friends who came to Buffalo in February. It was like picking up right where we left off! I am so excited to see all of them again! It feels amazing to come to Chile and already have such wonderful friends. They took us to San Cristóbal Hill which is a popular tourist destination because you can see the whole city. Unfortunately it was closed for maintenance, but we all went out for drinks instead! I had a pisco sour which is a classic Chilean drink.
I am looking forward to trying new things and making new memories in Chile. Our schedule is jam packed with things to do every single day. Some highlights include our Spanish language immersion classes at ECELA, field placements through Universidad Mayor, salsa dancing classes, cooking classes, BBQs, horseback riding, hiking in the Andes Mountains, and visiting Viña del Mar and Valaparaíso. Today was such a great day that I can’t wait for tomorrow!
¡Adiós por ahora!
P.S. Kudos to whoever knows what song the title of this blog post is from! :-)
As of today, May 13th, there are only 18 days until we leave for Chile and I am feeling many different emotions. First and foremost, I am incredibly excited about the opportunity to travel to abroad! Participating in an IPDS trip is something that I have wanted to do since I went to a Buffalo State Open House as a senior in high school. It still doesn’t feel real to me that I am leaving for Chile in less than three weeks!
I am also feeling a little nervous because this trip will be my first time traveling outside the United States and Canada and going somewhere that the primary language is not English. I thought I knew basic Spanish from the four years I took of it in high school, but last week I took a placement exam for ECELA (the Spanish school we will be attending in Chile) and I hardly knew any of the answers! This experience will not only develop my Spanish language skills, but will also give me the opportunity to experience life as a language learner and empathize with the English language learners I may have in my classroom someday.
In addition, the longest amount of time I have ever been away from home (and my parents) is five days! This summer I will be spending three weeks in Chile and immediately upon my return to the States I will be working as a group leader at a sleep away summer camp for seven weeks. I think this will be a transformative summer for me because it will make me more independent and confident.
Participating in the IPDS Chile program will definitely be the cherry on top of an incredible school year. I can’t wait to finally use my new passport.
¡Hola! My name is Kelly and I am an undergraduate student studying elementary education at Buffalo State. This is the first time I will be traveling outside the United States and Canada. I am very excited about the opportunity to learn more about Chilean culture, work with English language learners, improve my Spanish skills, and conduct research! I hope you’ll enjoy reading about my Chilean adventures!