My name is Mackenzie. I’m a senior at Western Kentucky University and will be graduating in May with a degree in Elementary Education. I just completed some challenging (and hilarious) student teaching assignments in Kindergarten and 4th grade at two great local elementary schools. Before I sail off into the sunset of adulthood, however, I get to go complete one more student teaching assignment in QUITO, ECUADOR. This blog will document my experiences in South America over the next four weeks.
I have been asked a LOT of questions about my upcoming travel since I made the decision to student teach abroad. Relatedly, I’ve always wanted to be the subject of an interview. That being said, I am now going to interview myself about my upcoming trip and attempt to answer a lot of the questions I have been answering and/or have not yet been asked. Drum roll, please.
Hi, Mackenzie! First things first, can you tell us (the millions of people that frequent this high-traffic blog), about the place where you will be teaching?
Well of course! I will be student teaching right outside of Quito at a school called “Colegio Menor.” It’s a private school and, from what I hear, is really nice (in a good area, equipped with a lot of technology, great teachers). I have been placed in a 5th grade classroom with an American teacher originally from Colorado. I’ve corresponded with my mentor teacher by email and she describes her class as “the nerdy class” in 5th grade. She says they are really sweet and love to learn and will love to hear about where I’m from.
Sounds really precious. Will you be able to communicate with them in Spanish?
Well, not to brag, but I have had 7 years of Spanish over the course of my schooling. Which means, no, I will definitely not be able to communicate with them in Spanish. I am conversational at best, and by conversational I mean I can exchange greetings, ask where the bathroom is, order off a menu, make my way around an airport, and go clothes shopping. Because that’s what Spanish language textbooks have taught me over the years. Luckily, the students in my classroom are more impressive than me and are fluent English speakers. They are only allowed to speak English within the classroom, which is extremely fortunate if I am to “teach” them anything. It sounds like they will be teaching me a lot as well.
Wow. I wish Americans were made to learn another language from a young age. Sounds really useful and cultural and considerate. Anyway, what will you be doing outside of school?
Good question, interviewer. While we will be in the classroom for 5 days a week (except for this first 3 and a half day Easter weekend), we hope to do a lot of sightseeing and traveling. We want to explore the city, go to markets, and eat Ecuadorean meals. We also want to leave the city and experience rural Ecuador. Quito is in a mountainous region, but there are also rain forests, beaches, cloud forests, etc. Like any good travelers, we have googled “cool things to do in Ecuador” and we’ve got some pretty exciting ideas up our sleeves.
Who is “we?”
Whoops! “We” includes myself, and my two travel buddies Rachel and Meg. They both just completed their student teaching in America and we’re traveling as a trio. We’ll all live together in a house outside of Quito.
Raquel’s house! Raquel is our host. Raquel is an older woman who speaks only Spanish. She is somehow associated with the school and has opened her home to American student teachers for the past few years. She sent me an all-espanol email a few weeks ago and signed it “Tu Mami Ecuatoriana,” or “Your Ecuadorean Mom,” so I have high hopes of her being sweet and wonderful.
Well she sounds as precious as the 5th graders. Ecuadoreans sound great so far. Are you nervous at all for your trip?
Asking the hard questions, I see. Yes, I am definitely nervous. Nervousness is a part of my personality but I am pushing through it for the sake of life experiences. I have traveled abroad before, in Istanbul, Turkey, and nervousness didn’t ruin that trip so I know I’m going to be a-okay. My 8 hours in the air tomorrow will be the worst of my anxiety, and after that it should be semi-smooth sailing. I went on the US Travel Authority’s warnings website and decided those are totally worst-case-scenarios. It’s going to be fine.
Sounds like you’ve got it under control. So, are you excited?
Extremely! I can’t wait to meet the little Ecuadorean babies and meet mi mami ecuatoriana! I can’t wait to buy alpaca blankets at outdoor markets and figure out a way to get them home in my overstuffed suitcase, to get lost in a big city and use my 7 years of Spanish to find my destination 3 hours later, and pet tiny tree frogs in the rainforest. That last part is totally not true because they’re poisonous and surely really hard to catch. What I’m trying to say is I’ve had a lot of time to imagine what life will be like on the equator starting tomorrow and yes, I’m excited.
Well I don’t know about you but I feel like that interview went really well. Stay tuned, millions of readers.