Ecuador, Part 2: My Internship Teaching English ; August 20, 2012

As promised, here is part 2—my internship!

This is the outside of the school, which faces the street. The name of the school is Centro Escolar Experimental "San Francisco de Quito" (The "San Francisco of Quito" Experimental School Center.) It is a regular Ecuadorian public school. 1st-6th graders come from 7:30 to 12:40 Monday through Friday, and 8th-10th graders come from 1:00 to 6:10.

Here are some kids playing in the courtyard/playground area before school started one day. The classrooms are set up on the four sides of the courtyard, with each grade mostly grouped together.

This is me with Gladys Diaz, the Ecuadorian teacher who I worked with. She teaches English to 4th, 5th, 6th, and 8th grades, so those are the grades I worked with. She teaches full time at the school, meaning she is there from 7:30 to 6:10 every day, with only two 40-minute recesses and one 20-minute break in the middle of the day. You have to admire her, and all the teachers there, for working so much for what is an incredibly small salary compared with the norm in the U.S.

My job as intern was basically to help her teach. I went with her to a different classroom every 40 minutes—we brought their English class to them. Most Ecuadorian English teachers only speak a little English—even Gladys only knows about as much English as the 8th graders that she teaches. As a native speaker of English, I was able to teach pronunciation, vocabulary, and grammar with more accuracy.

This is one 5th grade class, with Gladys standing up in the back. There are about 40 kids in each class. That made it a little difficult for me! I had only ever taught one lesson to one classroom of 11 students before this internship. So at first, it was pretty overwhelming.

From day one, Gladys wanted me to teach whole lessons to classes. So I did the best I could, going through lessons in the textbook. Then I started adding things in and trying to explain things in ways that the students could understand better. I discovered that I know enough Spanish to teach English... thank God! But there were many times when I just couldn't think of the right Spanish word, and I had to just hope the students knew what I was trying to say!

This is a picture of some of my 5th grade students holding up their English textbook, entitled "Clapping Time." Let me tell you—English is a ridiculously complex language for people to learn as a second language. These kids have their work cut out for them. I feel lucky to have been born in a country where it is the native language! Since English is quickly becoming the world language, the language that everyone wants to learn to be able to communicate with everyone else, it is a privilege to speak it fluently already!

Here are the girls of one of my 5th grade classes. It was my last day, and they all wanted to give me a hug. :) This was my noisiest 5th grade class—they always got out of hand, and I had to yell over them to be heard. I discovered that I actually do have a "teacher voice" and that I can make myself heard over a classroom full of 40 talking 11-year-olds! But I didn't quite learn how to discipline them or prevent them from all talking in the first place. If I ever have a classroom of my own, I will have to develop rules and systems to keep behavior under control!

These are the boys in the noisiest 6th grade class, just being boys. One day, I had this class to myself—Gladys could not be there for some reason. But as soon as I told the class that I was their teacher for the day, they started cheering and talking! I tried to get them to quiet down, and for at least 10 minutes I was trying to figure out what to do! Then, in exasperation, I yelled at the top of my lungs and even teared up a little. They got quiet and listened. The Spanish came fluently (haha)... I told them to be quiet, and asked them how they could learn English if they didn't pay attention, and that I was trying to teach them but they were being disrespectful. After that, they listened as I taught. That was one of the craziest moments of my internship. At least it taught me that I have the "power" as a teacher to control a class. I think I'll remember that. :)

All in all, it was a great experience. Teaching English reminded me that I love the way languages work. While learning Spanish, I was teaching English, which helped me understand both languages better! To me, languages are fun, and I hope I can teach English for a living while maybe learning some more languages. (I'm considering trying Portuguese!)

But also, this internship reminded me that I love working with kids, and I love Latino kids. I know that I will be working with kids in my future and that I will enjoy it. Through this internship, I was able to show God's love to the kids. Some of them wrote notes to me and told me that they felt loved and cared for by me, and that their lives were better because of me. (AWWW!!) I feel that it is in God's plan for my life that I will show His love to children by loving them, whether it is through teaching English or whatever else I can do.

5:16 PM  |    |  

Ecuador, Part 1: Home Stay and Galapagos Islands ; August 15, 2012

Dear friends, First of all I must apologize for breaking my promise—or at least my goal—of keeping a consistent blog while I was in Ecuador! The day after I wrote that last post, I moved in with my host family and lived with them for 4 weeks. During that time, I started my internship and my consistent class schedule. Right after our home-stays we went to the Galapagos Islands, then we had a lot of assignments and cultural activities, then we went back to Misahuallí for a second mini-mission-trip and then to the beach for a final debrief retreat. So, those are all my excuses to say that I had no time for blogging. But I sincerely apologize for not keeping you, my friends back home, in the loop on my experiences in Ecuador. I got back home to Colorado 3 months ago, on May 11, and as I write this, I am simply flabbergasted and flummoxed that I am going back to JBU in only TWO. DAYS. Where did the summer go!?

To try to make up for my lack of blogging, I'm going to write 3 posts describing my time in Ecuador. I will show you some of my favorite photos from the semester. I hope they tell the stories for themselves. :)

This picture just makes me smile so much. I don't even really know what we were laughing at! This is the only picture I have with my entire host family! Around me are my host parents, Diego and Miriam. To the left are their three daughters—Melanie, Valeria, and Gabriela. Gabi is holding the book I gave them of photos of Colorado. :) As you can probably tell... I got along great with everyone in my host family. They were so generous and friendly to me, and they taught me so much—about the importance of family, what hospitality really means, living the Christian life, and how to cook Ecuador-style! I learned so much Spanish while talking with them too. Melanie was always there to help me out with understanding, because she speaks English fluently!

Oh, and they took me horseback riding on the top of Pichincha! NBD! :D It was cold and foggy, but I thoroughly enjoyed riding a horse through unfamiliar vegetation, up and down wide hills, and getting splattered with mud when the horse splashed through muddy puddles! And then coming back down the mountain in the Teleferico gondola lift, and going home to a warm, traditional Ecuadorian meal prepared by Violeta, the family's friend and maid.

This is the living room and dining room where we shared many meals, conversations, games, and movies. I learned all kinds of unspoken "rules" of Ecuadorian culture by watching my host family's behavior. For example... when you enter a room, greet every person there with a cheek-kiss and a "Buenos días" or other greeting.

One day Miriam, Melanie, and Gabi took me to Centro Comercial Iñaquito (the Iñaquito mall), just to walk around, look at stores, and eat ice cream. So there was this blue angel statue... that turned out to be a live human! They gave me 15 cents to put in his little bucket... then his eyes looked at me, and he smiled at me (without opening his mouth) and did a slow, swirling dance. Then Melanie took this picture of me with him! His little bucket said "Gracias por apoyar el arte" ... "Thank you for supporting the arts." What an interesting art form! :)

At the end of our one-month home stay, our group had a lunch party to say goodbye to our host families before we moved back into our normal apartments. This is me, Miriam, Kim (my RA), and Valeria. I was sad that the home stay only lasted one month, but I continued to visit my host family and go to church with them for the rest of my time in Ecuador. :)

All right, so this is from our trip to the Galapagos Islands at the end of March! It was like our Spring Break... better than any spring break I could have asked for! :) And those are some adorable baby tortoises in the breeding center/research center. We also saw Lonesome George... the century-old giant tortoise (who actually died in June! Sad face.)

An odd, funny occurrence... So we were on this 2-hour boat ride between Isla Santa Cruz and Isla Isabela. I was trying to take a picture that might barely capture the incredible scene I was in the middle of: wide, gray ocean covered by wide, blue sky blanketed by clouds, with the sun shining through and making everything bright. And then Courtney sticks her neck and nose into my picture. :D Haha! Good thing I got some pictures that weren't photobombed. :)

I loved all of the animals on the Galapagos! Yes, we did see a Blue-Footed Booby, but the only photo I got is really blurry because we were on a boat. :(

And finally, some of the gorgeous scenery on the Galapagos Islands. I was sad that we only got to spend 3 and 1/2 days there! But it was a beautiful place and I'm lucky I got to go there!

In my next post I will tell you all about my internship!

11:06 PM  |    |  

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