For my STEP experience, I went on a university sponsored study abroad trip to Cuenca, Ecuador. I was there for 2 weeks learning about the culture and education system. We went to a elementary school in the Canar region to collaborate with the students and staff, and to learn about their education system and culture. I lived with a host family to enhance my Spanish, and got to see lots of different parts of the city.
After going on my trip I am more understanding of the world. I was able to experience a different way of life, and a different culture. Before going on this trip I would view people from other countries as underprivileged, and I thought they needed me to come in and help them. After going I now understand that they are are not the poor, helpless people that I used to think they were. I now understand that they are people just like me, and they might live their lives differently than I live mine, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are in need. I also now see the flaws in my own society as well.
Going to the school and working with the teachers and students transformed my world. I saw a lot of the same problems that American schools have in their schools. They faced under-funding, state standards, and disruptive students. I have seen all of these things in schools in the US as well. Also working with the students helped me see how kids are actually very similar everywhere. Some of the students there reminded me of students I have worked with there.
My host mom also helped to change my viewpoint. She was such a great hostess, and actually cared about me and the other girl that were staying with her. Every night she would make us dinner and talk to us about different things. She taught us a lot of Cuenca, and the culture in Cuenca. It was so nice to have someplace to go that was so homey after long days.
The girl that I did my home stay with also taught me a lot about myself and the world. She was very different from me, and showed me that I can get along with people who are very different. She had gone through some struggles in her life, and was very open and honest with me about them. She taught me a lot about the problems we have here in America, and we never would have met if we hadn’t gone to Ecuador together.
This was a very valuable experience for me because I was able to see a different way of life and learn more about other cultures. This will benefit me when I am a teacher because it taught me to be more understanding of the different cultures of my students. I also learned a lot of Spanish while I was there, and that will also help my with any students I have that speak Spanish.