I was one of three students chosen to student teach in New Zealand. We taught at The Terrace School (a public school) in Alexandra. Monday through Friday we taught the same hours as the teachers. We got to experience morning tea time, and brain food! All times that students got to have a food break while playing outside. New Zealand schools love play! On the weekends we got to experience the life of New Zealand. We went to all the important landmarks on the South Island, from canyoning in Wanaka to the jet boat in Queenstown, it all took my breath away. I tried new foods and even picked up on New Zealand phrases that were different from US English as well as their native language, Maori. This country was the most beautiful place I have ever been and I would go back in a heart beat!
Not only do individuals in different countries live differently, they also had different values. It made me think deeper into really accepting these differences and how it really doesn't affect the long term goal we all have in common. I hope to remember this in my future in the classroom.
The amazing views and food! Wow, oh, wow are they amazing. I never walked out my door in the morning and didn't lose my breath by the amazing views and just how lucky I was to have this experience. My favorite memory was just exploring the town of Alexandra (town I student taught in). Our second day we decided to just explore the town and we ended up at the top of a small mountain that over looked the city and I almost cried at the fact that I was somewhere so beautiful!
What did you not expect?
Although we all speak the same language, many words or phrases meant something else. It was definitely something I had to get use to but once I got back I had a hard time changing back to the US terms and phrases. I looked at it in the perspective that change is hard, and many students have a lot of change in their life. If I, myself, as an adult have hard time with change there is no way a child is going to not have a hard time. I will remember this in my future and do the best I can to help a child deal with the change in their life.
What advice would you give?
Do as much as you can. Even if you are tired and just want a break, you only have this experience once! Do it all and don't be afraid to ask questions. Everyone is there to help you and wants you to have the experience of a life time. Just embrace the beauty of the country and try as many native things as you can (you will be back in the US before you know it so don't eat the cheeseburger, eat the jimmy's pie!).
How has this experience impacted your life?
It really made me think more in-depth about how where we grow up shapes who we are. There are people living so much differently than myself and I am so glad I got to experience this! It really made me want to learn more about different cultures and just embrace the differences of the world! I am definitely going to look into having a culture of the month in my future classroom. I want to try different foods, wear different clothes, speak different languages, etc.
How did you learn about this experience?
My Junior year of college I attended a program about student teaching outside central Iowa. I then heard about teaching in a different country while at this seminar and decided to look into it.International Connections