Going to Chile

I am writing this post on New Years Day. Consequently, I hope that you are having a good year whenever you read this.

It has been an exciting past year for me with so many changes happening very fast.  I went back to school at the University of Toronto and studied TESL.  This was a very interesting subject to take, and it was all in preparation for what is happening now.  In the last few weeks I have contacted an organization called CIEE.  CIEE is a nonprofit with a mandate to encourage international exchange and education.  It has a history coordinating teacher and student exchange programs that dates back to 1947,  The acronym stands for The Council for International Educational Exchange.

CIEE has many different programs but one of them facilitates teachers going to work around the Santiago area in Chile.  I have applied to the program and been accepted.  Now, it is just a matter of deciding which school I will be placed in.

The program really caught my eye fro a couple different reasons.  The first reason is that Santiago, the capital of Chile, seemed to me to be a very interesting city to go to teach in.  I realize that I have been geographically ignorant, but previously, I had only heard the name, but was aware of none of the details of this fascinating place.  This city has caught my imagination, partly because I see a mix of the very modern and the historical, with a backdrop of the mountain range of the Andes.  Secondly, I thought that of other locations I might choose, I might have a way into the Spanish language.  Although I did not know any Spanish before last December, I have begun to study Spanish and to work very hard at it.  This is about all I can muster:”Perdon me espanol,  nosotros somos todos estudiantes de la lengua aqui, pero nosotros trabajamos duramente a meyorar “, without the appropriate accents since my keyboard has not been changed over.  At any rate, I am excited to begin this new step.

It has been interesting to study Spanish as I have noticed many cognates or “cognados” between the two languages.  Here, my knowledge of French (as rusty as it is) has also helped.  I have been able to decode some text, especially in written form.  I have also begun to notice various Spanish speakers in the subway system here, but “que lastima” it is difficult for me to decipher their rapid delivery.  It really gives me a window into the minds of a second language student, being an active one myself!  One thing that interests me is that there are words I find improve upon English.  The word for “word” itself is “palabra” and I find this more romantic than the mundane sounding: “word”.  It sounds like a chandelier, not a unit of speech.   Pablo Neruda, who lived in Santiago, composed a poem called La Palabra, and I read it with translation side by side with the Spanish, and found it very beautiful.  I wonder if I will be able to work this poem into my teaching.  I also wonder if my Spanish speaking students will find any English words have a nice sound or interesting use… I suppose it is my job to get people motivated, but truthfully the threat of total immersion in a place I have never been is the biggest motivation for me now.

Anyways, I am feeling very inspired about the trip, but tomorrow I have an interview with CIEE, and will find out more.