The language classes we've been taking at ECELA, our partner language school, have been a lot of "fun" for all of us. Quotes around the fun part because I'm studying one of my least favorite topics in English AND Spanish, the Subjunctive. We don't use it much in English, but it is widely used in Spanish to describe various moods and what ifs. It can be maddening because there are so many subtleties and layers to when it is used instead of other verb tenses. I've picked up it's correct usage over the years through listening to other native speakers and mimicking when and how they use it. But this week, I'm being subjected to the subjunctive, actually learning the structure when and how and why it is used. This week has been a testament to the art of good teaching, because my grammar teacher Francisco is fantastic and keeps the class moving (and prevents me from jabbing my pen in my eye during our written exercises).
Another unexpected distraction in the class has been chronic texters. Anyone who knows me knows how I feel about texting during class (Off With Your Head!). With only four people in the class including me, there have been two nonstop texters all week and my tongue is gnawed raw from not scolding them. Interestingly enough, there are two Americans in the class, one person from Poland, and one from Russia. Guess who the offenders are? (hint: not the Americans--yay to good manners Americans!).
This afternoon I had the pleasure of visiting a school in one of the oldest modern sections of Santiago, el Barrio Huemel. It was a neighborhood developed early in the 20th century to provide the working population of Santiago with access to quality housing with an emphasis on fine architecture, theaters, libraries, and green space, with hundreds of palm trees imported from the Canary Islands. This notion of "quality of life" for the working class was quite revolutionary at the time (during the same time period many large cities in the U.S. were busy building tenement buildings to cram immigrant factory workers & their large families into).
Today, although it is one of the poorer areas of the city, it is a designated historical zone and is in the midst of a multi million dollar revitalization (think Canalside & Cobblestone!).
The school I visited with IPDS participants Jameelat (Speech Language Pathology) and Claire (Exceptional Education) is called the Escuela Repùblica de Haitì. We were accompanied by Nicolàs, an education major at the Universidad de Mayor, and Professor Miqueias Rodriguez. Thank goodness for their willingness to escort us there, we definitely would have gotten lost on the metro!
Here is outside the school:
We visited a third grade English class lead by a former student of Professor Rodriguez. As a first year teacher, she was animated and motivated, and this was a large, challenging class, to say the least. Prof Rodriguez told me she had several job offers to teach at higher paying schools, but she chose to work at this one because she strongly connected with the students, most of whom have serious learning and behavioral challenges, during her student teaching placement there.
This is why we do what we do.
Upon entering the classroom, Jameelat and Claire braved the chaos to lead the class in some songs.
Order began to emerge from the chaos as they lead them on a singalong of "Old McDonald Had a Farm". I'm certain the chorus of E-I-E-I-O! could be heard from the highest peaks of the Andes.
For an encore, "Heads Shoulders, Knees and Toes" proved to be another hit. My geriatric (accommodations!) version was "Heads, Shoulders, and Knees" and believe me those eagle eyed little kids noticed, they definitely noticed. I wouldn't say I felt judged, but........
It was an enlightening experience, and I've had back to back days filled with pride of how well Buffalo State is representing our campus & community. We have been warmly embraced by Santiago, and I see many similarities in what it means to be a city of good neighbors.
Finally, why not top off the day with a little salsa. The girls made me promise not to post any of the video I took during class, but it my opinion it could be a successful "Dancing With the Stars" audition tape for any of them-they were all definitely shaking a tail feather.
Hi. I'm an associate professor an Associate Chair of Graduate Studies in the Exceptional Education Department at SUNY Buffalo State. This will be my first trip to Chile, it has been wonderful working with the students and my wonderful colleagues Drs. Patti and del Prado Hill. I look forward to another world adventure!