It is actually quite hard for me to write this post and reflect on my experiences in Chile. After four incredible weeks, I was not ready to leave. I wanted more time. There were things I had still not done, things I had still not seen, and people that I was not ready to let go of.
I have a deep desire to follow my heart, and I almost always listen to it. My heart told me that I loved learning about the natural world, so I got a degree in environmental science. My heart told me that I needed to move away from home, so I went to Albany to teach people about the environment. My heart told me that I loved working with children, so I’m working on my Master’s degree in education. My heart is telling me that I have not seen the last of Chile, so I will most certainly return one day.
When you travel across the world and walk among the Andes mountains, learn to communicate with people who don’t speak your language, immerse yourself in the culture of Chile, watch the sunset over Moon Valley in the driest desert in the world, and build relationships with incredible people, you walk away a changed person. You are wiser, stronger, and your heart is bigger. You learn to appreciate more, you accept more, and you learn more.
Before I left Santiago, I bought a novel in a bookstore written in Spanish. It is motivation for me to continue the journey I started and not allow the new language I learned to disappear from my mind. One day, I will be able to read that novel and understand every word. It is a big goal, but far from impossible.
Studying in Chile has given me a new perspective on teaching and learning. I now know what it feels like to be a student who has trouble learning because he/she does not speak the same language. I now appreciate our average class size of 20 – 25 students much more. I can now be more patient and supportive with my students and I am thankful for the incredible resources we have in my school and in others. And I now realize the value of experience. Young minds are shaped by the experiences they have, and it is my job to make sure those experiences are amazing ones.
Muchas gracias a las profesoras que organizaron esta viaje. Ustedes son fabulosas. Hasta luego, Chile.