We were so happy to arrive in Santiago on Wednesday morning to a beautiful sunrise over the snowy Andes. After passing through immigration and customs, we made our way to our host family house. Our host mom, Ingebor, welcomed us warmly, and we also had a chance to meet her daughter Francisca and granddaughter Camila who live on the floor below in the apartment building. After settling in we made the 15 minute walk to ECELA which is now in a new location with a wonderful garden and patio. The ECELA faculty also warmly welcomed us (we are so grateful for the generous and kind welcome our Chilean friends have provided!) and we took the oral exam to determine in which class we would be placed the next day.
It was great to be reunited with our Buffalo State group, and after quick hellos we walked to Universidad Mayor for a conversation about the group's experience to date. The exchange with the English Pedagogy faculty allowed us to ask questions about what the group had observed and also articulate the similarities and differences for educators in Chile and in the US as well as explore the challenges teachers face in each context.
We then took a bus provided by UMayor to visit a school that partners with the special education program at the university. Interestingly this public school had been recently built to emphasize natural lighting, create a strong infrastructure for technology use, and ensure accessibility. Since I am especially curious about school-university partnerships, I was very interested to see how fully integrated the teacher candidates seemed to be with the faculty of the school.
On a personal note, it felt wonderful to revisit the areas Anza and I remembered so well from our first time in Santiago in 2011 -- the Manuel Montt campus of Universidad Mayor, the dance academy where Anza's sister learned flamenco, our favorite coffee shop, and the streets we often walked.