December 15, 2019
Hey everyone, welcome to the last entry of my blog. As I write this, I am sitting in my room waiting to get driven to the airport. My bags are packed, I have said my goodbyes to everyone except for my host family, and I am done with everything I need to do except write this blog.
This week was bittersweet. Monday started off just as normal as every other Monday I have spent here for the last eight weeks. However, throughout the day, I began to realize just how close to over this experience was. I didn’t have much to do teaching-wise this week besides prep each of my classes for a quiz at the end of the week. Because of this, Monday was my last day lead teaching. When I say “lead” teaching, it is not the same as my lead teaching in the States. My time spent lead teaching here was not spent lesson planning for each class every day and teaching those classes. No, instead it was more based around planning certain classes to teach on certain days and just being more involved in curriculum planning and activities that Wendy was doing. But, however different it was, it ended on Monday.
On Tuesday, I had the opportunity to go to Unidad Educativa Municipal Quitumbe to observe Carmen (the other Global Gateways Student’s placement school). Quitumbe is located in the South of the city, about an hour drive away from me. So, after I got Adrian on the school bus to America Latina, I caught an Uber and traveled South. Unidad Educativa Municipal Quitumbe is a public school, home to approximately 1,500 students. This is in direct contrast to CEEAL which is Private and only has around 600 students. At the school, I was able to observe a Third Baccalaureate grade math class. This class was much more organized and respectful than I had experienced at America Latina, but it was missing something. It was straight direct instruction and didn’t have much real learning occurring in the class. It was great to see this other form of schooling that is available and more popular as it is public. It was also good to talk to Carmen about her experiences and compare and contrast what we did over the course of our eight weeks.
Wednesday through Friday was the beginning of the end. Each day, I had my last class with a certain grade. Each grade threw a small celebration where they brought snacks and beverages and we just had the period to reflect on our time in each others lives. I told them how grateful I was for each of their parts they played in enriching my experience. Whether it was talking about Math, playing sports, or just by sharing common interests in music and hobbies, I feel as if each student in the Baccalaureate grades helped me learn and grow throughout my time here. Some students even spoke up and told me how thankful they were for me and wished me good luck, I was on the verge of tears. On Thursday, Carmen came to visit America Latina and Magdalena also came to check in on how my experience was and to say goodbye. Both of these visitors enjoyed their stay in a day in the life of Brady and I said my goodbyes to the both of them at the end of the day. Thursday and Friday were my last days coaching basketball to Baccalaureate grades and Basic grades respectively. Coaching basketball really did enrich my time here as it allowed me to connect with students outside of class and learn more about coaching. I am grateful to Dariel, Fito, and Evelyn (the coaches at CEEAL) for allowing me to spend time with their teams and assist in their programs. I am going to miss my students and am going to miss the other teachers that I made relationships with over the past 8 weeks.
Saying goodbye to Wendy was hard. She took me on as a student teacher not knowing a lick of English and never having mentored a student teacher before. And we clicked immediately. We got along so well and we were able to collaborate and be on the same wavelength of what we needed to do in order to best assist our students. After eight weeks of just teaching and talking, it didn’t really occur to either of us that we were going to have to say goodbye at the end of this week. So, I gave her a big hug and told her how thankful I was for her. I then also had to say goodbye to the support staff who helped me tremendously throughout my time. I said goodbye and thank you to Yoly, Ivan, Sofi, and Deli and I also told them that I would see them again. At first, this was something that I would say just to make the goodbye a little softer, but after a while, I came to the realization that indeed, I need to come back to Ecuador to visit. I don’t know when, but I have to see everyone that I became close with again. Finally, after saying goodbye to everyone else, I had one more person to thank: Nancy Ayala Roggiero (founder of the FUNLIF Foundation and creator of America Latina). We spoke for a few minutes on Friday afternoon reflecting on my experience on the whole. After our conversation, we gave each other a big hug and said goodbye for now.
This weekend, I had the opportunity to relax and get ready to leave. I spent a lot of time with Adrian and Santiago and, as of this morning when she got back from Colombia, Gloria as well. I am going to miss my host family. Over the past 8 weeks we have gotten to know each other quite well and I truly feel like a part of their family. I am excited to show Santiago around Colorado when he comes in January for his own little study abroad adventure at UC Health. Saying goodbye to them is going to be the hardest part of leaving Ecuador.
I wanted to conclude this blog by giving a couple shout-outs and to give my thanks to others who have helped me be able to have this experience and get the most out of it. I want to give a shout out to two Spanish teachers in my life that taught me to love the language and to inspire me to travel to South America. Araceli Soto-Kiemele and Pat Smalley, thank you for everything.
In regards to Spanish language learning, I also want to give a shout out to all of my friends and classmates who I have been able to practice Spanish with. Thank you to everyone for helping me further my knowledge and confidence in the language, without it, this experience would have been a whole lot different.
Thank you to all of my friends and family for supporting me and urging me to follow my goals and travel abroad and to teach. Your love and support has allowed for this experience to be absolutely amazing for me. I want to give a quick shout-out to all of the teachers in my life. Thank you for inspiring me to become a teacher as well and providing me with an amazing education that I can use to enrich the lives of my future students. Shout out to Jen Moeller. Thank you for everything. You inspired me to pursue a career in Math Education as well as continue my running career in College. You allowed me to be passionate about my interests and that changed my life.
Shout out to all of my fellow teachers. Thank you to all the teachers who I got to know through Cornell College’s Education Department. Thank you for supporting me and being there for me. Henry, Kat, Taylor, and Tucker, along with the rest of you amazing teachers in my life, thank you. You guys are superstars. On that note, huge shout out to my man Caleb Wilson. He just completed the same program I did abroad in New Zealand. Caleb, thanks for everything. I am glad we got to do this together (kind of!).
On a final note. I just wanted to give a shout out to both the Cornell Fellows Program as well as the Global Gateway for Teachers program through Indiana University. Without funding from the Cornell Fellows Program, I would have not been able to have this life changing experience. I am ever so thankful. If you are a Cornell student and want to study abroad and/or complete an internship in your career at Cornell College, apply for a fellowship! And to the Global Gateway for Teachers program, thank you for setting up my placement and being so amazing at ensuring that I had a wonderful experience. If you are thinking specifically about spending 8 weeks of your student teaching abroad, I would highly recommend applying for this program.
And with that, I’m done. Thank you to everyone who read this, I really do appreciate it.
Brady is a math education major, computer science minor from Erie, Colorado.