Student Blogs & Vlogs | College Study Abroad Programs, IFSA-Butler

Community Ties

This week I was thinking a lot about what my role here is in the community. Last weekend I had the chance to meet up with my bible study leader here a couple of times as well as last night too and it has shown me what a great opportunity it is to get to know someone from the community. Her name is Claudia, she’s studying to be a dentist and although she’s only a couple of years older than me I feel like I learn so much for her. Her love for God and just willingness to listen and share her life with me is so inspiring.  I think it’s so remarkable how even though we may not have known each other for very long that because we have a common foundation and love in God that conversations of depth come so easily.

Last week after bible study I went to a dinner with my religion class including the professor, his wife and a colleague; it was a great chance to connect with the community in a different way. We got to see the “older generation” interact and they were so friendly and outgoing! Our professor insisted on paying for everything and it was such a great Italian meal complete with fresh juice, pasta and an assortment of desserts! He even offered to drive us home and although there was traffic it was so entertaining to hear him and his wife revel about the different musical numbers that were playing in the car. One thing that really stood out to me about their relationship was something that he actually talked to me about early that week during office hours. We were discussing the concept of attaining knowledge in religion and how effective that really is if a precise answer can never truly be reached. In order to answer this question he compared it to his relationship with his wife explaining how no matter how  hard one may try they will never be able to understand the full workings that go on in the mind of another person. However, in the process of getting deeper into religion that it’s exciting to learn what you can, and like his relationship with his wife, that even after over forty years of marriage that there is still something new to learn about her each day and that’s what makes life and the attainment of knowledge so exciting. It was a really beautiful testament and comparison and I hope that in my life I will not only continue to pursue learning about Christianity but also be able to have a marriage like the one that my professor has.

After the dinner my friend Karrin and I went to the birthday party of the babysitter that watches her host brother and we were back with a ton of people our age. This group was more musically inclined and it was a lot of fun to hang out, talk and listen to different songs in Spanish. The next day Karrin and I hung out in Valparaiso with no particular agenda and it really felt like we were just regular Chileans. We walked down the cerros (hills), bought completos (classic Chilean street food that’s really just a hotdog but with mayo, tomato and of course avocado) and lounged in the grass absorbing the wonderful sunshine of the day. After we finished our lunch a huge crowd of drummers came into the park and put on a spontaneous show for all of the people. This weekend was particularly filled with people for the Mil Tambores festival, which is a celebration of all different kinds of art and this group was practicing their love for music. After the short show we walked around and checked out all of the art vendors and then went out to our favorite ice cream place. We sat there for a couple of hours just talking and then when we were thinking about leaving we talked about how we ate the ice cream a bit too fast. Then we looked at each other as if sharing the same thought and decided that in the spirit of being abroad and on behalf of all those that are lactose intolerant that we would have a second serving in honor of them. After that we were pretty exhausted and called it a night so that we could rest up for the main activities that followed the next day!

On Sunday for Mil Tambores there was a very big parade that started at one of the beaches. We got there early to participate in the body painting. At first we looked around to try and see if there were any artists but it seemed like everyone was very official so we just sat down with the paints we had from a party store and started playing around. Soon enough a few people started to ask us if we could help paint them as well. We warned them that we weren’t artists but they said it didn’t matter and soon enough we were painting boys, girls and even teens. After a couple of hours we had some lunch and then went to go and see the parade. A couple of our friends were participating in it so it was really fun to see them dressed up in their festive attire. We didn’t stay too long at the parade because it was so crowded so we headed to one of the Valparaiso cerros to check out some of the touristy picture spots and of course have some ice cream to cool off from the hot day! Overall it was one of my favorite weekends here so far because instead of touring we really just immersed ourselves spontaneously into the culture and had a great time!

This week of school was pretty normal and my volunteer work teaching English is going quite well. The first time I worked with the fifth graders one of the girls slipped me a note at the end of class with a drawing. It’s actually a pretty perfect representation of me with my big red coat, brown boots and all. The past couple of times it has been my job to present the materials in a more “creative way.” The teacher I work with is actually a student teacher that is still getting her degree so it’s kind of nice that we’re both new to teaching and work together through that. She normally goes through the main lesson with foundational content and then I follow with a more applicable activity where they can practice what they learned. The first time I lead an activity I feel like the kids really got a good feel for the vocabulary by practicing talking about summer activities in sunglasses and winter as well in my over-sized beanie. The next activity that I tried with them this past week was a bit more complicated and although I was worried a little at first about them understanding they seemed to catch on very quickly! We were learning about technology and played a modified version of Taboo where students had to describe to their classmates the English vocabulary words without using three obvious descriptive “taboo words.” The goal was to have them understand what the words mean and be able to describe it to someone else. I think overall it went well and I’m having so much fun coming up with lesson plans! Until next time :)

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