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Stepping into the Professor’s Shoes

Jul 05, 2011 by Katie Bussiere in Latin America


El tiempo vuela
—time flies. In just one week I’ll be on a plane flying home to the states. I won’t get too sentimental writing this entry, but I will say that I am going to deeply miss my host family and the friends I’ve made through working at Universidad Alberto Hurtado.


(Looking out over Santiago from the top of Cerro San Cristobal Hill; one thing I won’t miss—the smog!)


(Central campus of Universidad Alberto Hurtado early one morning)

I arrived in Santiago six weeks ago with no formal teaching experience. Thus far, I have cotaught two peer-mentoring courses with Layli, and I have run weekly conversation groups and tutoring sessions for English students. In addition, I have independently led four university classes. ¡Qué emoción! For my first two classes, I reviewed some basic rules of academic essay writing and treated the class periods as writing workshops. As a class, we reviewed prewriting, thesis statements, and body paragraphs.


(Helping a student during my essay writing workshop; thank you, Layli, for the photo)

In my next two classes, I introduced a new unit on "Disasters and the News." I wanted to create a lesson plan that would get the students talking, because they needed to know the lesson’s vocabulary for their next exam. Also, I hoped to lighten the gloomy subject of disasters with a little humor. I ended up creating an activity called "The Day after Tomorrow in Santiago, Chile."


(A slide from my PowerPoint; the photo illustrates what Plaza Baquedano might look like during a disaster)

My assignment for the students was to imagine that an extraordinary disaster occurred in Chile’s capital. Each student assumed one of three roles: news anchor, interviewer, or survivor. Each group created and performed a skit for their classmates (the television viewers). I supplied the survivors with comic props, such as an umbrella and a bus map of Santiago, to animate their tales of survival. The ensuing skits were impresionante—impressive! The students energetically embraced the role-play activity. I was awestruck by their creativity and originality, and overjoyed to see the students both laughing and learning. Initially, I was nervous about stepping into the shoes of the professor. But I have found that teaching (although challenging at times) is extremely gratifying and rewarding. My time in Santiago is limited, but I hope that my students have taken away something from my teaching. It’s the least I can do for all that they have given me.


Students pose for a photo with their professor

¡Bienvenida a Chile! Teaching and Exploring in Santiago

Jun 02, 2011 by Katie Bussiere in Latin America


¡Hola a todos! I’m writing you from Chile! Everything is well here, or as my host mother would say, ¡todo bien! I’m staying in an apartment with my Chilean mother, who is very loving, and her 17-year-old son, who attends high school. They do not speak English so I have been practicing my Spanish a lot. Our apartment is situated at the corner of the busy intersection, with a metro station located right across the street, which is convenient for my commute to the university. Here is a photograph of my room.

 

A couple days after Layli, Hilary, and I arrived in Santiago, the university organized a tour of the city for us. After walking around teeming central plazas and grand government buildings we ended our tour in a bohemian section of downtown Santiago—Bellas Artes—that has cafés, bookshops, museums, and theatres. In the photograph below, we are sitting in front of a heladería (ice-cream parlor). Hilary and Layli are eating pistachio ice-cream and I’m eating chocolate. (The ice-cream of our tour guide and photographer, Mauricio, also snuck in).

 

Layli and I had the pleasure of spending an evening with Mount Holyoke alumna Eliana Ortega. We began the evening at a local restaurant, eating traditional Chilean empanadas and talking up a storm about Mount Holyoke’s loveliness, everything from professors to dormitories and the Five College area. After the delightful meal we attended a poetry reading in La Chascona, one of Pablo Neruda’s houses that was turned into a museum after he passed. Below, Eliana sits on the far right of the table, about to read some passages from her friend’s collection of poetry.

 

One last adventure to share: On the weekend Layli and I ventured into downtown Santiago and ran into the tail end of a large protest. People were waving banners and chanting in protest of the hydroelectric plants that have recently been approved for building in southern Chile. Many Chileans are concerned about the flooding and destruction that will result in Patagonia if such plants are built. The pictures below show people taking the streets in protest.

 

 

Much of this past week I have spent settling into my new home, getting to know the city—such as how to ride the metro—and meeting professors and students at Universidad Alberto Hurtado. The university reminds me of Mount Holyoke in that its students and professors are friendly, intelligent and motivated. So far I have assisted in several classes and run conversation groups. In one class, I gave a joint presentation with Layli about food in the United States. The students seem eager to learn English. I’m looking forward to this week—when my full schedule begins! I will assist in five classes, run several conversation groups and tutoring sessions, and work more on the writing center. ¡Hasta luego!

Teaching English in Chile: Katie Bussiere '13

May 19, 2011 by Katie Bussiere in Latin America



¡Hola a todos! I'm from Canton, Connecticut, and I study English and Spanish at Mount Holyoke College. Two other MHC students and I will be interning this summer in Santiago, Chile. We will teach English to third- to fifth-year students at Universidad Alberto Hurtado, and perhaps start a speaking and writing center. On the job I want to equip students with the communication skills necessary to advance their careers. I also want to sharpen my Spanish skills and immerse myself in Chilean culture. This is a huge change of environment for me--my hometown has a population of 4,000, while Santiago has over 5.5 million. Needless to say I am confident that I can take on the challenges that lie ahead. I have only twice traveled outside the U.S. (I spent the past two summer babysitting for a wonderful family in Greece), so I'm looking forward to having exhilarating adventures in Chile. My flight leaves tomorrow!