I apologize for not writing in a few weeks, but I have been so very busy. My final two weeks have been completely filled! Between my final classes, saying my goodbyes to family & friends, and traveling back to the United States, it can definitely be said that I haven’t had even a second to pause.
My last two weeks of teaching were very bittersweet. Entering into my classes and knowing it was for the last time felt especially strange. In addition to one week of creating Mother’s Day gifts, I had been teaching my pre-school and kindergarten classes with the theme of animals. It was a very fun subject! Our final lessons were filled with flashcard activities, animal books, games, worksheets, and arts & crafts. I was overall very impressed by their knowledge of English animal vocabulary, especially since about 45 of my students are only 3-5 years old!
Then I had my final classes with the adults I teach. These classes included a girl (Blanca-25 years old), a woman and her husband (Monica and David), a class with a girl via telephone (Vega-25 years old), my host sister (Elena-25 years old), and a group of adults (about 8 of them). It was very, very sad for me to end these classes. I created such great friendships with each and every one of them! It was so incredible to me because I had been noticing a ton of improvement in their level of English overall! For me, that was very special. It made me feel so proud of myself and my new ability to teach. I was also very delighted by how kind each of my students were. Each of them was so much fun to teach, and I could not have asked for a better group. Some of them even got me/made me thank-you/goodbye gifts! I feel so lucky.
A couple of extra activities I was able to be a part of in my final week included: viewing and helping out in a kindergarten class and speaking to the group of Spanish kids going to the United States (with Heather Espeso’s organization, United Cultures S.L.) this July! First, I went with Heather to view a kindergarten class at the International School in Valladolid. It was a special week where the kids learned a bit of information about a different country, and of course it was The United States of America! So, in the class, the kids were taught some interesting facts about the US and then were dressed up as little Statues of Liberty. It was very cute and fun! I loved going because it gave me the chance to really observe and assist in a real kindergarten class! I’m very grateful that I had the opportunity. Then, last Saturday morning, I went with Heather Espeso to meet and speak to her group of students. These kids are ages 11-18 years old and will be spending their July in America! Since I have a lot of experience with living abroad and with host families, I was able to give them tons of advice! They are a really great group of kids and it was an honor to meet and talk to them.
Over my last weekend I spent a ton of time with my host family, my friends, and with Heather! On Sunday, my Spanish friends threw me a surprise goodbye party. It was so, so nice of them to do that for me and we had a fun time eating Spanish Tortilla and other delicious, traditional foods. Then, on Monday, Heather and her husband were kind enough to bring me and another American boy (who is currently living in Valladolid) to visit castles around the area! It was such a great day; seeing gorgeous, historical castles and spending time with lovely people!
Overall, I cannot express enough how grateful and appreciative I am to have had this amazing opportunity. So many great things have come of this time abroad and I have learned so much. Studying abroad is definitely an opportunity that I strongly suggest to everyone, and something I would do again in a heartbeat. I began this internship with little to no knowledge of how to teach anyone anything! Thanks to Heather Espeso’s incredible help, advice, and assistance, I am now completely confident in my abilities to create lesson plans and to conduct classes. I hope to continue using this new ability somehow in my future–either teaching English once again, or Spanish.
Before my departure to Spain, I had no idea what to expect! I was already comfortable with Spanish culture/language from my exchange to Spain last year, but teaching English was a whole new experience. At first, I was very anxious and nervous, but I remember telling myself to go into this experience with an open mind. I’ve learned not to wonder too much about what may happen, because no matter what, things will be different (and usually better) from what you’ve imagined. Take each day slowly so that it can be enjoyed more, because before you know it, it’s all over too quickly.
This experience has not only opened up my eyes to new fields of study, but to a new culture. Travel is so incredibly important to me and allows a person to see, think, and feel differently. Not only are you able to learn more about the world, it also allows you to learn more about yourself. Traveling makes you more aware, and makes you appreciate life more. Also, thanks to this opportunity, I was able to create strong connections with numerous people, family members, and friends. My Spanish host family was fantastic. I became very close to my host mother, father, and sister. I could not have asked for better people to live with! And I know I will continue to keep in touch with them for the rest of my life. Also, my Spanish friends were incredible, fun, and caring people. Once again, people I will remain friends with forever!
I have really loved writing these blog posts and letting everyone know what I have been doing the past three months abroad. Thank you so much to everyone who has been reading them–I hope you’ve enjoyed!
See you in Jamestown. Adios!