Colegio Maestra Elsa Santibañez was the first school we were able to visit. I had the privilege to go there twice, once yesterday and once today. Walking into this school, I had no idea what to expect. Would I be able to communicate with the students or the teachers? How would these children react to me stepping foot in their school? What would they think? All of these questions plus many more were running through my head and it began to make me a little nervous. That all changed the second I walked into the courtyard where I saw over 50 students just running around and being kids. Prior to going to the school, we learned that in Chile, students get breaks in between subjects. We were told that these breaks were basically a " free for all" and students had the ability to just be kids. This is something that is extremely different than schools in the United States. Teachers don't like when students are running around and being loud because there is a stereotype about how kids "should" act while in school. Here in Chile, they understand that kids need time to separate school and being a child and how much they benefit from these breaks. The second myself and the other teacher candidates walked in, we were surrounded by these beautiful and huge smiles and getting asked questions in Spanish! It was such an amazing experience, and I never wanted to leave.
This is something that I never thought would be possible because younger children have always been my passion. Being in this classroom made me realize that I actually do love working with all kids no matter what the age group is. To my surprise, many of the students spoke enough English to have conversations, but they also challenged me to use my Spanish skills! Lead by Rachel, another teacher candidate (and someone who I have become great friends with), the students engaged in a lesson that had a central focus on being different. The activity she created was very engaging for the students as it was hands on and something they could connect to on a personal level.
Today, I take on the challenge of hiking the Andes Mountains with arms wide open.