What is the most rewarding part of your career as a language teacher?
In my opinion there is nothing more rewarding that combining student’s interests with real life events. When a student expresses or demonstrates that new perspectives and ways of thinking have sparkled in their minds and hearts, I feel rewarded. When my job of sharing the culture and language stands a tool that enables the understanding of a different way of life, I feel complete. Almost every day when I have new realizations regarding the evolution and change of a language to suit the needs of the people that use it to connect, I feel my learning never ends. Bearing this endless context in mind, a language can be taught as just a translation of ideas, or, as in my case, as a means to unveil a whole new world. I love the dynamic of languages; they unfold new possibilities.
What is one personal or professional goal that you have for yourself, your school or your department?
My biggest goal is to make students as passionate about languages as I am. I can remember my language teachers in school (and in family) as such interesting individuals with their worldwide points of view and open mindedness. They inspired me to be eager for more information and new horizons. With such examples, I intend to develop a school wide curriculum that develops and awakens an interest in the language and culture of the Spanish (for the moment) speaking world. I am really excited to promote that same interest!
What is one of your favorite travel experiences?
There is nothing better to learn or test your language knowledge than total immersion. This was the case with Polish. It was the first time I visited Poland to learn more about the culture and language of my grandfather. I was touring the beautiful Cracow, hub to visit the south of the country. I decided to go to Auschwitz-Birkenau, one of the saddest (if not the saddest) places I have ever visited. The visit was so heart touching that I silently cried at the end of the tour. So much sadness, sorrow, inhumanity, injustice, and, many other mournful feelings went through my mind and heart. I couldn’t stop thinking that those atrocities had happened; it was reality. At this horrendous place millions were killed and never got to go back to their lives. Luckily, I was able to walk back to my vacation alive. Unlike millions that never knew it would be their last place.
The lesson that I learned is that in spite of how hard times can be, life should always be celebrated. I would consider this the most teaching experience of my life. I realized we have the biggest gift of all and we should cherish it.
Do you have any advice for other world language teachers?
If you enjoy the content and your teaching style entertains you and your students, the time in your classroom will never be enough to share all the knowledge that you want.