Tuesday, May 23rd, 2017.
Every day from 9am to 1 pm I attend Spanish classes at a Spanish school here in Santiago. For someone who came to Chile without knowing any Spanish, I have to say I’m catching on quickly. The host family that I am living with here in Santiago speaks only Spanish, so it has definitely been a challenge for me to find effective ways to communicate with my host mom. Now, she sits with me while we eat dinner and quizzes me on vocabulary words. Table = mesa. Window = ventana. Knife = cuchillo. Etc, etc. We talk about the weather and the places I’ve been going with my fellow classmates. It’s actually amazing practice, and my Spanish is far from good but it’s definitely better than when I stepped foot on South American soil.
Tuesday was filled with meetings and I had several opportunities to speak with Chilean students at Universidad Mayor, the University that Buffalo State partners with for this program. Like me, they are future teachers and have awesome ideas and stories. I got to speak to them about their thoughts on education in Chile and they asked me many questions about teaching in the United States. Classrooms in Chile often times have 40 – 45 students per class, as opposed to the average class size in the U.S. of about 20 – 25 students. I don’t know about my colleagues, but I think that keeping track of 25 students is hard enough. It was really cool to hear the perspectives of fellow educators and compare them to mine.
Wednesday, May 24th, 2017
Today I got to visit a class of 11th graders at a school in Santiago. It was amazing. They spoke some English and were able to understand me pretty well and we ended up teaching each other through our conversations. They asked me questions about the United States and about myself and I asked them tons of questions about their typical school day. Believe it or not, they have mandatory recess twice a day and a huge courtyard filled with ping pong tables, basketball courts, and soccer fields. It was high school heaven if you ask me. Thank you friends, for welcoming me to Chile. 😊
Thursday, May 25th, 2017
Today I got to visit another school, this time a fourth grade class. They had SO MANY questions and thought we were the coolest people ever. They spoke less English than my high school friends, so it was very hard to communicate with them, but somehow we were able to find things to talk about, like how awesome the movie Frozen is. Me gusta Frozen! Let it go, let it go! They loved my blonde hair (I stick out like sore thumb in Chile) and wanted to know all about New York. I also got the chance to do an activity with them and teach them some English words. It’s an amazing experience to be able to work with all different kinds of students here in Chile. 😊
AND THEN… Something crazy happened. After Spanish lessons and visiting the school, I stepped WAY out of my comfort zone and went to a Salsa dancing class. That’s right. Salsa dancing. When in Chile, right?! I had an awesome dance partner and looked like a silly tourist with no rhythm, but it was the most fun I’ve had so far. If you ever have the chance, take a dance lesson.
After Spanish classes, we got to really explore the city and learn about the history of Chile. Our visit to Museo de Memoria was an experience full of emotion and reflection. We learned about some extremely important and intense times in Chile and were able to feel more connected to the culture and history of the country we are calling home for three weeks. After our museum tour, we walked to the top of Cerro Santa Lucia for a fabulous view of Santiago.