It has been exactly 11 days since I left Chile and I already find myself figuring out when I can go back. Before I left for this trip, I was very hesitant and anxious due to the unknown. Fast forward almost a month later, I realized that the anxious feeling helped drive my experiences in Chile. I took all of those negative feelings and turned it into positive and encouraging feelings. I realized that there was nothing to be worried about because at the end of the day, I was alive and growing little by little in every way possible.
I find myself resorting to speaking Spanish whenever I can because that was my way of life for three weeks and in a way, it made me feel very accomplished. Prior to my travels, I knew a little bit of Spanish because I took years of it in high school and I have traveled to Mexico numerous times. What I did not know was how different the Chilean dialect was and how much Spanish I would learn from just immersing myself in in the culture. Being back in the States, I really try and continue my Spanish skills and sometimes slip a few Spanish words in conversation. Or without even realizing it, I will order my coffee in Spanish just like I did often while in Chile.
I really miss all of the wonderful friends that I made while in Santiago and I often think about what they are doing while I am back to my old boring life of working, working, and oh yeah... some more working. Around 9am, I think to myself " Oh, I should be in Spanish class right now learning and growing, but instead I am working a 9 hour day just to make ends meet." I truly do miss the life I lived for three weeks in Chile and really hope that one day I can go back again. Traveling abroad and teaching in a different country really put this "travel bug" inside of me and I absolutely plan on doing another IPDS program- specifically the Zambia, Africa program. I want travel the world and further explore different cultures around the world. I want to enhance my professional development and better myself as an educator by gaining real life experiences that I can bring into my future classroom but most importantly, I want to make a difference in the world and inspire those around me. I will be forever blessed that I was given this amazing opportunity and I know that this is only the beginning for me.
I want to personally thank everyone who has supported me along the way and continued to be my positive encouragement when I needed it.
Cesare Paves once said “Traveling is a brutality. It forces you to trust strangers and to lose sight of all that familiar comfort of home and friends. You are constantly off balance. Nothing is yours except the essential things — air, sleep, dreams, the sea, the sky — all things tending towards the eternal or what we imagine of it.” Rather than using the word "brutality", I like to replace that word with "adventure". Traveling is an adventure, and Chile was nothing short of just that. I was forced to communicate with the locals in Spanish, I was stripped from my comfort zone of my friends and family, and I was exploring the beautiful city and all that it had to offer.
This past week has been hands down my most favorite. Although the first two weeks were jam packed with adventure, field placements, meetings, and other various events, this week was where I was able to find my own. I was able to go at my own pace and see things that I wanted to see. I felt more free than I ever have because I was able to figure my way throughout this huge and beautiful city. I faced my fear and took the metro during rush hour where I was pressed up against the window due to how packed it was, but it made me feel like I could accomplish anything. Weird, I know...but it was a hurdle that I never thought I would be able to get over. Another feeling that I felt this week was the feeling of being independent. I wasn't scared to walk the streets of Santiago alone, I wasn't constantly looking down in worry that someone would look at me or stop and talk to me, and I walked in the crowds of hundreds of people with my head held high and taking in every sight, smell, and sound surrounding me.
Yes, I am going to miss all of the children and teachers that I have met at the various field placements, but I am going to miss the friends that I have made here. My pen pal, Claudio, has become someone that I know I will be in contact with after I leave here. He went out of his way to show me the city like a true Chilean and just bonded with me over our similar personalities. Along with Claudio, I am going to miss all of our friends from Universidad Mayor. I have created these everlasting friendships with people who genuinely care about not only my experiences in Chile, but my life as a whole. We are already planning on when they will be able to come visit Buffalo again and when I will be able to step foot in this beautiful city again.
Friday night, they threw us a private roof top BBQ and it was probably the best night I have had here thus far. It was such a relaxed environment and full of great conversation and laughter. We danced and sang Spanish songs and ate wonderful food. We weren't keeping track of the time because we were just having fun and enjoying each other's company. Saying "goodbye" to them was one of the hardest things that I have had to do. These people have become my comfort and support while in Chile, and they have become some of my best friends. I will never forget the lasting imprint everyone has left on my heart, and I know we will still continue these friendships when I am back home in the States.
Chile was an adventure. I grew not only professionally, but I was able to figure out more about myself. I absolutely see traveling as a way to explore the world but to find out who you really are and what you are capable of. It takes you out of your comfort zone and makes you really push yourself. I will travel as much as I can and Chile was a great way to start.
It feels as though I just arrived in Chile yesterday, but yet I have already been here for two weeks. With only one week remaining in this trip, I want to embrace the life and culture surrounding me. The past two weeks have been filled with laughs, memories being created, some tears, and most importantly, hours in Chilean schools. There has not been one single filed placement that I haven't fallen in love with.
On Friday, June 2nd, we went to a beautiful private school called Colegio Universitario Inglés. I was placed in a third-grade classroom that had 32 students in it. From the second I walked in, all of the students had so much energy. It was such a warm and welcoming environment, and I was ready to be a part of this classroom. Lucky enough, I was able to actually teach one of the lessons I brought with me to Chile. My research has been focused on read alouds and how (or even if) a teacher in a Chilean school uses them. On this particular day, I brought the book Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin, Jr. and John Archambault. This book focuses on the English Alphabet and really gets students engaged by repeating a phrase throughout the book. I taught the phrase " Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, will there be enough room? prior to reading the book because I wanted the students to say it with me whenever it was said in the story. To start off my lesson, I used the book to go through the alphabet. I said the letters in order and then had the students repeat them after me. To my surprise, the students did an amazing job with this and some of them already knew the alphabet. This was such a fun way to get the students hooked into the lesson and ready to go! While reading the book, I had comprehension questions that I asked on certain pages. This allowed for not only even more student engagement, but it allowed me to make sure the students were understanding what was being read to them. Right after the book, I had the students take part in a fun activity. What third grader doesn't love coloring!? I used that to my advantage and had the students color a cut out of a coconut tree and then write their names using the alphabet where ever they wanted in the tree. This connected to the book because the letters of the alphabet climbed to the very top of the tree before all of them fell out. Writing their name using the English alphabet posed for a little challenge for some of the students. They were not shy in asking for my help though, and that I absolutely loved. It was amazing to be able to implement one of my own lessons in a Chilean classroom because I was really able to work with such a diverse group of learners. In the pictures below are some examples of student's work as well as some pictures a few children drew for me! :)
Today was a day filled with serenity and positive energy. Myself and 5 other participants of the IPDS Chile program decided to spend our free day riding horses in the Andes. I still cannot believe that I was able to do that because it was such a freeing feeling. The ride up the mountain was a little over an hour and I enjoyed every second of it. Everywhere I turned, my eyes saw endless amounts of beauty and nature surrounding me. My horse, Tano, was the tallest of them all and I was up so high that I could see everything. When we all made it to the top of the mountain, we had our own personal BBQ and fire. Sitting at the top of the mountain where it was just as peaceful as can be, I had some time to really reflect on my time in Chile. It was then when I decided that no matter how tired I am this week, or how badly I want to sleep, I will not let myself and I will truly embrace all that is surrounding me in this beautiful city! This kind and friendly family cooked us some of the best food that I have had thus far in Chile. We had an array of veggies, steak, chicken, and some delicious vino! My free day could have not gone anymore perfect.
With only one week left, I am excited to see how much more I can do and how much further I can push myself!
23 | Senior | Exceptional Education | Alpha Epsilon Phi | Musician | Optimist | Adventure seeker | Lover of books and trying new food |