My experience in Alexandra, New Zealand consisted of me teaching in an elementary school setting in a year 5/6 classroom. The town we were in was about 5,000 people located in the Central Otago region on the south island. During the week myself and the other student teachers taught in our respective classrooms. The New Zealand curriculum varied from the United State's in that elementary school teachers taught all subjects including art, music, and physical education. On the weekends we had a school van that we were able to take to other areas on the south island. The entire landscape of the country is one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. The people were always friendly and our living accommodations were great.
One of the most memorable experiences I had during my time in New Zealand was on our first day at the elementary school. The entire school had put on a traditional Maori welcoming ceremony for all of the Iowa State student teachers. This included a traditional dance a long with singing as well as a greeting that we all did with the students and administration. This was such a unique experience to get to be a part of and it really showed that the whole community was excited to have us as a part of their school for the time being.
What advice would you give?
One piece of advice that I have for students who want to study abroad is to try as many things as possible and get out of your comfort zone. During our time in New Zealand there were several things I had done that I never thought I would have. This includes learning how to speak Maori, learning a haka, exploring mountains and nature trails, and getting to see a glacier. I also recommend to future students that they get to know the locals as well as possible. Some of the best moments during my time abroad came when getting to talk with different people no matter what setting we were in. This helped us learn more about the culture, find exciting things to do and places to go, as well as getting the opportunity to meet some really awesome people. No one knows the area you're in better than the locals, so they are awesome resources to have.
How has this experience impacted your life?
This experience has impacted my life in several ways. Being able to go abroad and experience a different culture was something that has changed my perspective about a lot things. Getting the opportunity to teach in a school system with a curriculum different from the Iowa Core was also something that was really helpful. In the New Zealand curriculum elementary teachers teach every single subject. This includes things that we would normally not teach as much in the U.S. such as art, music, and physical education. As a future educator I think this experience has helped me tremendously in areas such as differentiation, classroom management, and new ways of using assessment. After having this experience it has made me want to travel more and get to learn about different cultures like I was able to in New Zealand.
How did you learn about this experience?
I heard about this opportunity original several years ago at a international student teaching open house. They had several booths set up talking about the various locations.International Connections