Week 4:
The Value of an Education


Cornell Fellow in International Student Teaching

Colegio Ecuatoriano Español América Latina | Quito, Ecuador

November 17, 2019

Me on the Condor Tower of La Basilica.

Hey everyone, thanks again for reading my blog this week. I hope you are all enjoying learning about my adventures in beautiful Quito and seeing what amazing things my students are doing! This week was a busy one but it was busy in the best way possible. The students in my homeroom class (Primero Bachillerato) were out this week doing their Pasantias. This week was an opportunity for every student in the grade to gain experience working in a profession that they are considering in pursuing. They worked with family members, friends, or community members willing to take the extra help every day this week from 8:00 to 2:00. Without Azul or Verde Primero Bachillerato, Wendy and I had a lot of extra time on our hands on Monday and Tuesday. We put this to good use. Lesson planning and quiz writing/grading, we used every minute of our time effectively. Overall, these days were pretty tranquil.

A clearer view of the Pichincha volcano

On Tuesday, I learned that I am no longer able to attend Track and Field practice and that I need to coach basketball every day. This broke my heart. I love running. I am knowledgeable about the sport and can not only help coach distance, but sprints (and sorta jumps) as well. In basketball, I know close to nothing. But, I am here to help. I am here to assist the school and learn from my experience as well as those around me. This is just another part of that learning experience. For the rest of my experience, I will only be serving as basketball coach.

On Thursday, I was able to be a judge for an English speech competition. Selected students from first, second, and third baccalaureate had an hour and a half to prepare a speech in English from a prompt that was given to them. They were assigned to discuss whether or not they think it is okay for robots to have citizenship in countries. I was so impressed by how well these students organized their thoughts without the aid of others (including the internet!). They gave well thought-out speeches with great sentence structure and amazing vocabulary. The top two speeches were spectacular, both speaking on how robots shouldn’t get citizenship until all humans are able to, while keeping their arguments based on examples and expressing themselves to the crowd. I was grateful for the chance to be a judge!

Me and the Speech Contest Judges (My host mom, Gloria, on the left)

Wednesday and Friday were amazing! On those days, Wendy and I were able to go out and visit some of our students at their job sites. We took about 4 hours each day driving around, talking with students about their experiences and documenting them. We got the opportunity to visit restaurants, design offices, record companies, repair shops, and dealerships. It was great to see the students doing something they were passionate about and contributing to that field. In addition, at the restaurants, we got to sample some of the products!

I realize now how important this week was to my students. Instead of sitting in a classroom continuing to master academic subjects in order to pass their next quiz in order to prepare for a standardized test that allows them to graduate and then dig in to what they are passionate about, they got the opportunity to spend a week immersed in that passion. Through this opportunity, they grew as professionals as well as individuals. They were able to learn about time-management, form a professional discourse, and take on responsibilities.

Reflecting on this, it gave me a refresher on what an education is and what it can do for a person. Sometimes we get so bogged down by grades and meeting standardized test requirements that we forget what the point of school is. It’s to educate students. Now this education is usually seen through the lenses of how well a student has mastered certain material presented to them, but we have to remember it is so much more. Education is also about students learning how to become functioning individuals in a society, bringing all of the skills they have formed from being a student for the past 13 years (minimum) with them. Education can come in many forms, but it is something that is invaluable. That’s why, as a teacher, I must make sure to provide students with an education that is relevant to them and make sure I am doing everything in my power to help my students get a valuable education. In doing pasantias, in participating in extracurriculars, in competing in speech competitions, my students are getting the education they need in order to be prepared for the next step, whatever that may be for them

Friday night, I went out with some friends to go to a salsoteca. We got the opportunity to dance Salsa and Bachata and practice our moves. Santiago and Gloria came as well. Gloria’s dance team was there and Santiago’s cousins were in town. It was an amazing night to dance off the long week that I had. At the salsoteca, we were able to see professionals perform their routines. They were astounding. I cannot believe how much power and grace is necessary to perform such routines, but every pair had it. Friday night made me want to learn more about and to practice salsa dancing.

Me and the squad (primero bachillerato)

After going to bed in the early morning on Saturday, I woke up four hours later at 6:30 am to drive to school with Gloria to go to the inauguration of the sports championships. For the next four weeks, there will be competitions between classes in the school held throughout the day. This was the big kick-off event! Parents, students, and teachers were all there to compete, eat, and enjoy the day. I started off the day by running in the road race (4 laps around the block that the school is on). It was so fun to run and compete and I ended up getting second place! Afterwards, I ate a late breakfast with Gloria, then went to the volleyball court to coach and cheer primero bachillerato! It was so much fun to see the students in yet another light. I ended the morning by dancing in a dance therapy clinic. It was a good opportunity to demonstrate all that I learned from the night before.

Me on my third lap of the race

On Sunday morning, I met up with Dr. Amara Stuehling, the Assistant Director for the Global Gateway for Teachers Program offered through Indiana University, as well as another student-teacher in the same program who is also in Quito, Carmen. We began the day by riding up the teleférico and seeing the volcanoes once more. When we arrived at the top, we were above the clouds and the view was much more clear than last week! I was happy that I did it once more. Afterwards, we taxied in to the city and walked around just being tourists. We were able to see La Basilica (one of Quito’s famous churches) and climb up the spires. Afterwards, we walked into the historical district, ate lunch, then toured La Compañia de Jesús (another famous church abundant with gold decorations). It was great to talk about my experience so far from an educational standpoint. And I also noticed just how much about the culture and history of Quito and of Ecuador I have learned over the past month. I want to give a huge shoutout to the Global Gateway for Teachers program for coordinating my placement, as well as a huge shout out to the Cornell Fellows program for providing me the funding in order to be able to have this opportunity. Without the help of both of these programs, I would not have been able to have this life-changing experience.

Me hanging out with some llamas on top of the teleférico

Brady Tobin '19

Brady is a math education major, computer science minor from Erie, Colorado.