If you know me well, you know that I crave adventure and I take full advantage of every opportunity presented to me. This trip has been no different and I can honestly say that I have lived life to the fullest during the short time I have been here. I have eaten traditional Chilean food, hiked in the Andes Mountains, explored Valparaiso and Vina del Mar, visited Pablo Neruda’s home at Isla Negra, rode on horseback through the Chilean countryside, taught English in multiple schools, learned the history and language of Chile, made countless new friends, and embraced the culture of the beautiful city of Santiago. If you think that sounds like a lot, you’d be correct. Even so, I want more. I guarantee I will be back in Santiago someday. This was not enough. Santiago is much to amazing to leave behind.
There are a few things that I will take away from this experience that I could not have learned or seen anywhere else. I have been lucky enough to observe teachers in extremely different classrooms and very different schools in Santiago. I am walking away as a better educator and a better person. I have seen struggles and I have seen successes here in Santiago, and I can bring back what I have learned to make my own classroom a more welcoming and encouraging place for my students to learn. I have had several discussions with Chilean educators and students about their education system and their concerns. There are many similarities between our education systems, and I have found that teachers share many of the same struggles as we have in the United States. There is one central idea that all educators, Chilean and American alike, share. We all want the best for our students and know that there is nothing more rewarding than watching our students learn and grow. Wherever you go, you will find passionate teachers who are some of the most caring people you will ever meet.
I guess technically, I cannot yet say goodbye. Fortunately enough for me, my family has an adventurous side like I do and decided to join me in Chile for a taste of what I have been experiencing. Today, the students from Buffalo State will be boarding a plane to take them away from Santiago. For most of us, we are going home to our familiar city of Buffalo. I on the other hand, am Calama-bound to see the Atacama Desert with my mom and cousin to continue exploring in Chile. For an extra week, I will be able to see more amazing places and I could not be more excited!