The past few weeks have been...
Busy, enlightening, thought-provoking, productive, and oh so inspiring. When I look back, I am overwhelmed by how much I have done... Below is a (very short) account of the past few weeks-supplemented by many pictures, of course!
Google Hangout Lessons
With the help and initiative of dear colleagues at William Annin, I had an opportunity to connect with my students back in the U.S. We connected via Google Hangout: with me, Matt's, Diane's, and Christina's 8th grade classes. WA teachers worked with students to prepare questions for me and I took this opportunity to talk to them about Chile. You know, little things that we take for granted: money, food, life style, architecture, fashion, etc. Students had so many questions!
I showed them the books I got for them; talked about how delicious Chilean hallulla bread is, how popular avocado is here, why people buy lemons by the bag, and what Chilean pesos look like. Students also tried to guess what floor I live on, and why I am wearing a winter ski jacket inside. Some kids had questions about Chilean architecture, fashion, and transportation.
Most importantly, I took this opportunity to talk about Chilean 'modismos' - words that only Chilean Spanish carries, like 'palta', 'pololo', 'catchai', 'sismo' and others. We talked about climate in different parts of Chile, and some places to visit.
Next week, June 6th, I have another session except this time is with 7th grade! Matt, Catarina, Deirdre, and Anna will be the teachers that will facilitate this exchange. My brain wheels have already been 'spinning.' What can show them during this session? Shall I go shopping and get some 'samples' of Chilean desserts? Newspapers? Take pictures of buildings? Metro and micros? Maybe use 'share screen' feature and show them some pictures from this trip?... I have today to prepare for Tuesday.
Social and Cultural Happenings
Apart from working on my project, I also have been enjoying the company of many people: both related to education and not. I learned how to cook a cazuela -a Chilean stew, and lentejas; participated in various cultural events such as El Día de Patrimonio, made an arpillera, and went out with Santiago Girl Expat group.
School visits: SIP Colegio in San Bernardo
For the past week I have been visiting a semi-private school located in San Bernardo neighborhood, about 1.5 hours from Santiago Centro. I visited many grade levels (starting in kindergarten and finishing in 10th grade), observed many great lessons (shadow theater?!) and informally interviewed teachers, students, and librarians.
This school has a beautiful library. Last Friday, Keti the librarian sat down with me to go over Chilean indigenous literature. We talked about various indigenous populations of Chile and their folklore, i.e. legends and myths. She gave me a whole stack of books to digest and that's what I did on Friday- I sat down in their library, and read, and unpacked, and brainstormed ideas, and formulated how I can use these back home. How cool would it be to have the whole thematic unit based on myths and legends of Chilean indigenous peoples, their traditions, cosmology, and location?...
As with many other schools, I'd like to thank Red Cultural for connecting me with this school. Gracias!!
Meeting Kindred Spirits
Although school visits are a big part of this project, meetings with fellow teachers, book authors, and thinkers in the field of literature and education add another dimension to my work here.
Multiple times, I met with Estela Socías, a children's book author, and a university professor, co-taught a teacher preparation class with her, and attended her creative writing workshop. During the teacher preparation class at Universidad Mayor, I was asked to talk a little bit about my teaching practices and even demonstrate how I do meditation with my students (that's why there is a picture of me looking very somber).
Gloria Garafulich-Grabois of the Gabriela Mistral Foundation has connected me with Estela and for that I am grateful!