My overall experience student teaching in Cuenca, Ecuador was amazing. Words can not describe the atmosphere I was in. During my 8 weeks teaching at CEDEI, I was in trecero, which is 3rd grade in Ecuador but 2nd grade in the United States. These students were so great to work with. I taught these students Social Studies, Reading, and Language in English. CEDEI was a bilingual school, so for half the day the students are taught in Spanish and the other half in English. I learned so much just from being emerged into the culture of the school and the culture of the people. I came into this placement not knowing very much Spanish, but now I can say that I can have fluent conversations in Spanish.
The most memorable experience that I had from this experience is living with a host family. My host family took me in knowing that I didn't speak very much Spanish, and really emerged me into their family. They took me in as one of their own and I will be forever grateful for them and everything they did for me. The most memorable experience I had with them is that I shared a birthday with a 7 year old boy that lived with us and they had planned a huge party for him. Part of the Ecuadorian culture, birthdays are very important. Little did I know, they had planned something for me as well that day. Before Santi's 7th birthday party my host family said get in the car. They took me out to eat at a Chinese restaurant, because they knew it was my favorite, and had a cake for me and everything. We celebrated my birthday that day as well. I will never forget them. They have become my family as well and I hope to go back and visit them.
What advice would you give?
My advice to other students that want to study abroad is embrace the adventure. Take advantage of the opportunity that you are getting from this experience. Nothing will ever be like the experience that you will get from student teaching abroad. You won't regret it, I promise. This is something that I will remember for the rest of my life.
How has this experience impacted your life?
This experience impacted my life greatly. I couldn't have asked for a better experience with student teaching abroad. I learned so much about the culture of Ecuador and the lives of the people that live there. Throughout student teaching I was able to gain knowledge about my students and incorporate skills and strategies that I learned from Iowa State classes to better the instruction to teach those students. I also learned so much from my cooperating teacher in Ecuador. She helped me with classroom management and different strategies that best fitted the needs of my students in Ecuador. I really got to emerge myself into the structure and culture of the school and the city of Cuenca. My goal from this experience is to bring back some of the strategies and cultures into my classroom that I gained from my students and colleagues in Ecuador.
How did you learn about this experience?
I learned about this international opportunity from the teacher education office. I worked in the office my freshman year, and got the inside scoop on the whole program. From then on, I knew I always wanted to participate in student teaching abroad. I then went to the student teaching abrade fair as a junior and learned more about the program. I always knew I wanted to go to a more adventurous place as well.International Connections