First and foremost I would like to begin by expressing my sincere appreciation for your encouragement, prayers, positive vibes, kind thoughts, time, and love throughout this life changing experience. Whether it was allowing me to clean your house, wash your car; tutor your kid(s), some other odd job, or simply a heartfelt love offering…I would not have made it to Chile without your kindness. I have been changed.
Teaching in Chile has been one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences in my life. This opportunity has been much more than about teaching…my mission has been to share my passion for second language learning and to motivate and inspire these students to not only learn English, but to also apply it to their daily lives and to look within themselves to progress and grow as English speakers.
The language learning process is about throwing yourself into something that often is be completely unnatural and awkward so you can make mistakes, learn from them, and progress onward with the experiences and lessons learned. There were classes that fell flat, times where I had to spend the better part of a class doing battle with the perpetual talkers, dazed gamers, and desk artists. There were also classes where the kids were actively plugged in, laughing at me for standing on a desk or stuffing myself into a cabinet to teach them prepositions of location. Every class came with a healthy serving of energy and good humor. I really sought to boost their confidence and to encourage them to break the glass ceiling that is comprised of their nervousness and fears of speaking and messing up. Beyond being a passionate language lover, I sought to be an example having been put through the same awkwardness and frustrations in learning to speak coherently in Spanish. Every class reiterated the theme of “I don’t expect perfection because I don’t speak perfect Spanish.” All you need to bring are an open mind, a positive attitude, and a willingness to try something new. There is nothing more rewarding than your kids coming up to you in the hallway and daring to have that simple conversation with you, using the tools and tips that were shared with them in class.
Along the way I have made some awesome new friends and added to my ever-expanding international family. Living with three women and a kitten might look like a recipe for madness but my grandmother, mom, and little sister have been very supportive and accepting of me from the very beginning and stood by me when the Chilean government decided to take issue with my (II) at the end of my name. There is no distinction between nationalities or last names. We are a family. I have met people who I felt like I have known for ages, perhaps in a past life. People who I know I won’t lose touch with despite the continental divide between us. This endeavor has been a personal and professional blessing and through it all I have been changed.
CESC Students: This is not an easy process but the rewards are infinite. Language learning will teach you patience, discipline, humility, resilience, and hopefully to never take yourself too seriously. If you need language advice or just some encouraging words, I am just a message away. I have been in your shoes and I know it can be a challenge but no matter where I am at, I’ve got your back!!
As I move into the next phase of my life, I will forever carry with me the lessons and experiences from 4+ months immersed in another language and culture volunteering as an English language coach. With the academic endeavors of tomorrow on the horizon, I reflect upon the love and support I have felt both at home and abroad knowing that this is not a goodbye but rather a see you later!
Chile, I’ll be seeing you again soon….