The teacher was absent for most of the class so we just talked because the students could not fill out their notes.
I don't feel as if this experience specifically has helped me observe my own culture differently, but that may be because this isn't the first time I have done something like this. I have worked with kids throughout my life (including some that were ESL kids), I worked specifically with ESL adults during one of my J-term classes, and I've lived abroad, so this volunteer work, though fun and interesting, didn't cause a new viewpoint shift in my outlook on my own culture. Even if I hadn't had these experiences, I still didn't discuss topics besides their homework assignments with kids enough to learn much about their specific situations, and many of their problems could stem from a number of different and/or interconnected things such as absentee parents, language barrier, and poverty, among others, all of which could be a product of a different culture or just a product of their specific circumstances. Overall, though, I still very much enjoyed this experience, and I'm sure I'll use this experience moving forward to help me in the future.
learned how to make various of origami
The Last Impact
How has this experience enabled you to observe your own culture(s)
with new eyes?
Most of my time at the middle school this semester included a large amount of one-on-one time with a couple students, one who was just starting to get a basic grasp on the English language and one who was fairly proficient at it. This allowed me to take a step back and try to explain some aspects of my culture which was difficult at first but got easier as the semester progressed. I would say explaining some of the culture allowed me to look at it from the eyes of someone who may know very little about it which was awesome.
-Did you have a particular experience that led you to think critically
about your own culture(s)?
I don’t have a particular experience but explaining some of their homework to Pedro in Spanish and attempting to describe some of the concepts, especially when he started using the website to get a grasp, proved helpful in my ability to think critically about my culture. This arose when we worked through the family members and some of the books that we read, especially reading about conspiracies with Josie.
When I reflect upon my own culture after doing activities with language buddies I see how seriously we take educating our population. Compared to other countries that I have learned about we invest a lot more into our educational system, and I can see this has really paid off. I was very impressed with the amount of skills my kindergarteners had accumulated after just one year, and I look forward to seeing how they do in the years to come. On top of seeing the good things that they have learned I also have seen some of the bad habits that they have picked up from either the adults or media that run our culture. One example was when I was eating snack with the students. Somehow the conversation turned into being about me being their parent and one girl said "You can be his dad because he doesn't have one anymore". Those aren't the girl's exact words, but that is how I remembered it. What I found really strange was that no one at the table seemed very alarmed by this statement, not even the boy who was targeted. It was as if it was normal to not have two parents, and I found that really sad. Another time was when we were playing on a swing and there was a bigger boy in the class who wanted a turn. Another classmate said "no he can't come on because he will break it". I related this to some of the body shaming things happening right now in our own culture where a person needs to be thin and athletic to be accepted. The boy who was larger seemed to accept that he couldn't use the swing even though it would have held me, and I am a lot heavier than him. He instead was the one who pushed the kids, and seemed to have a good time doing it, but I wanted him to feel included so I told the others that it was his turn next. He climbed up with two other boys and had a great time on the swing. I wouldn't blame the students who said insensitive things to their classmates because they are at such a young age where they just do what they they notice their elders doing. I learned from this that it is very important to have good role models for kids at a young age. I can tell their minds are like sponges just soaking up all of the new things they learn and witness which means it is very important for them to be exposed to positive things from a young age.
Throughout this course this semester I have learned a lot about myself as well as been much more accepting when it comes to certain things. I know it is okay to make mistakes, it is okay to fail, because in reality one is actually learning from their unsuccessfulness. I cannot believe I am wrapping up my first year here at Gustavus, for time as flown by crazily fast. From all the friends I have made throughout spanish classes as truly open up my eyes and helped me be successful throughout these courses. My language buddy experience was one that I truly cherish, for those kids were open to welcoming someone new right away, as well as Mr.Bollum involving me right away. I have also been able to observe my own culture in a new light because of these kids. They show me that they are so beyond proud of where they came from and love to talk about it, even more so speaking in their native language. A specific example could include when I was trying to get through to a girl, trying to teach her some english words, but she was not understanding. However, I happened to find a little globe ball on the floor that had many colors. We just took a step back and focused on something different, something more basic. We talked about all the colors on the globe and she pointed out where she is from. Her face lit up so beautifully when she pointed and said “me.”
Today was my last day at Study Buddies and we watched a movie and ate cupcakes!
Learned how to play monopoly and the color card game