Teaching English has definitely been a learning process. You always here that Spanish teachers that are not fluent speakers are usually better at teaching the language because they had to go through the same process the student are currently. I am definitely experiencing the difficulties I imagine native Spanish speakers experience when trying to teach their language. The ideas that have helped me through is remembering how my Spanish teacher taught Spanish to me as well as being around elementary teachers. I am trying to learn how to start from the very beginning with English with the young students so they don’t feel overwhelmed in anyway and feel encouraged that they are improving. I have seen so much improvement which I know mostly comes from being immersed most of the day at school.
During an OU Cousins Event, I randomly started talking to this guy, and it turns out he usually goes to the university that I am going to next semester. I honestly didn’t think that I was going to have any information about this school before I left. I was definitely excited about this opportunity that meeting this person gave me. He ended up telling me about all of the festivals that I needed to go to in the Spring as well as different restaurants/bars. It turns out that he might be going back to Valencia next semester which would honestly be so helpful. Even though I am nervous that I am the only person from OU going, I know that there are always people out there willing to help me!
I had the opportunity to attend an OU Cousins event at the Kappa House to meet international students. I got to meet a lot of students I wouldn’t usually have the chance to talk with. Even though there was football on the lawn projector, most of the attention was on the cheese bread and the wings that were provided. When I first arrived at the event, I got to talk with two girls from England. Since my friend just visited England, I had many things to talk with them about, but the most entertaining thing was the terminology they used. We frequently had to stop each other and clarify certain words. I always knew that even though we spoke the same language that there were certain words that were completely different. It was just crazy to experience it first hand.
I was able to go to the welcome ceremony held for the arrival of the Tibetan monks during this past semester as well. I was intrigued to see what would happen at this kind of event because the last place I could have ever imagined Tibetan monks to come visit would be Norman, Oklahoma. I wasn’t able to stay for the whole event, but the Tibetan monks started with a blessing, which was then followed by a cultural Native American dance. The speaker explained the garb of the dancers that were about to come up. Another interesting part was when the public could join in the dance as long as you stayed with the appropriate gender. The monks happily jumped in when they were allowed, as well as some of the other audience members. In this way, it was strange to watch how these cultures from opposite ends of the world collided with ours in one place. I always love to see the acceptance and support of different cultures especially by obviously different people.
I was able to attend the Eve of Nations this semester and this event was definitely one to remember. It was amazing to see all of the different cultures present in one show. Seeing the contrast and similarities in different dances and songs intrigued me. One of my favorites parts is was the music. This past semester I took a music about the influence of different music in movies and it really helped me appreciate this event even more. I love how the different uses and sounds it can have when played differently or when it has different influences. It is incredible to think about how all of this culture is present on our campus.
My friend is visiting me right now from Florida, and that got me thinking about her high school. She went to IMG academy, which is a school that revolved around training for sports. At the school, it had students from over 50 countries, more than any other school I had ever heard. The influences from all of these different places in one place reminded me of the school in Italy that had different representations of countries in one place. While the two schools main goals had different purposes overall, I can’t help but see the similarities. Both of these schools appreciated their diversity and encouraged meeting new people from other places. Whether the students were hand selected like in Rondine or just attending school like in IMG, they both encouraged acceptance of different cultures.
This was actually the first time that this really happened to me. When I was volunteering at Kennedy working with the students from El Salvador, their mom was there to talk with one of the teachers. Like her kids, she didn’t speak any English. I told her in Spanish that I would not be their translator for the meeting because I was still learning the language. Their mom then guessed that they would be calling a translator, I then turned to tell the teacher that was with the mom to inform her that she understood that they were going to call someone else. I realized half way through my sentence when I saw the questioning look from the teacher that I was still speaking Spanish. I was completely surprised with myself. There have been times before when I could only think of a Spanish word for a particular item, but I had never accidentally spoken Spanish without realizing it at that level.
I have been working with two students in the Norman Public School system who arrived in the middle of the year from El Salvador. When I first began working with these students, they had no knowledge of the English language. This really forced me to stretch my language abilities because the two students could only understand me when I spoke Spanish. On top of that, I had to come up with activities that would help them learn English. At first it was really hard to think of engaging activities, but I then remembered how I was first taught Spanish during high school, and that gave me some great ideas! One of the students’ favorite activities was drawing out the new vocabulary words they had just learned from a story. This gave them a personalized visual representation of the new words. While volunteering with these kids was extremely challenging at times, it has been one of the most rewarding experiences. Every time I would show up, there would be an amazing improvement from the kids as well as an obvious want to learn more.
In my Spanish class this semester, I learned a lot about Spanish literature. It was extremely interesting because it is so different than English. For the most part the poetry was the most different. We started off with just counting syllables, and I thought it was going to be just like English. I was definitely wrong though because the vowels stay together in one sound. The rules continue if a word ends in a vowel and the preceding word begins in vowel the sounds combine into one syllable. This aspect of the syllables threw me off a little especially after finally understanding the rules, there are of course exceptions to the rule. All in all though I found it extremely fascinating all of there different rules and types of poverty throughout that section.
I recently read an article about how you would go about explaining a sorority to an exchange student from another country. I realize that the concept of a sorority is kind of weird. A group of 85 women learning the secrets behind their houses and then living in the same house with all of them. Not exactly that normal of a thing. I have been raised being around the greek life with my mom and all of my older cousins being in a sorority that I honestly have never given it a second thought. Reading this article though brought back a conversation I had with my OU Cousin last year. I was talking about my sorority and she had never heard of anything like it, but I did’t realize how weird sororities were until I read this article. It made me think of some of her comments that I didn’t even think about then. I love being in a sorority, and my involvement in one has definitely helped me grow as a person, but honestly… they are weird.